It took the recent killing of Chinwike Asadu, the Kwara State Commissioner of Police to pass the message to some people that the security situation in Nigeria is not what it should be and that nobody is immune against the rising wave of crime in the country.
The insecurity did not just start today; it is as old as the rot in the police force. Back in September 1986, a gang of armed robbers led by the notorious Lawrence Anini, snatched a police owned Peugeot 504 from the driver of Christopher Omoben, an Assistant Inspector General of Police on the Benin-Agbor highway and killed the driver in the course of the operation. Less than a month after, precisely on October 1, 1986, the same gang nearly killed the (then) Bendel State Commissioner of Police, Casmir Akagbosu. The CP was hit right on the nose by one of the bullets fired by Monday Osunbor, Anini’s right hand man.
A suicide bombing at the Police Headquarters was another confirmation that not even the police can claim to be on top of the situation. Early in 2012 too, the Boko Haram sect attempted the life of Mamman Sule the Taraba State Commissioner of Police as a suicide bomber forced his way into the CP’s convoy on his way to work.
Tongues wagged recently after the surprise visit of the President to the Police College Ikeja where the rot in the police structure was again exposed. Many wondered whether the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar would claim ignorance of the current status of the Police College in Ikeja and other formations that have been left to rot as a result of neglect. In the course of the President’s visit, the Commandant of the College reportedly defended himself by disclosing that the school under his care is better than the one in Kaduna. Those who know the Inspector General’s residence in Maitama, Abuja have however posited that it might be difficult for someone living in that kind of environment to believe that somebody somewhere lives in squalor.
A visit to the Police College in Kaduna proved that the Commandant in Ikeja was indeed right. Most of the buildings were seen to be old and the library, which was grossly ill-equipped with photos of past commandants on the walls and dusty old files and cabinets as the most visible items.
Nearby bushes were littered with human waste at the time of the visit as most of the recruits made use of the bush, since each toilet in the hostels had to be shared by more than 40 recruits. The smell from the drain around the laundry area too was sickening.
The condition at the Police College, Oji River in Enugu State too is similar as it is suffering great infrastructural decay. The roads are in a state of disrepair and just like Lagos and Kaduna, the hostels are overcrowded. The newest structure in the college was built in the early 1970s. The barracks too reveal a somewhat similar picture; most police barracks in Nigeria speak of filth, neglect and deprivation.
With the kind of environment in which Nigerian police officers are trained, not only are the officers and men predisposed to being used as tools by politicians and the rich, it has an effect on the image of the Force such that not many Nigerians actually believe the phrase “Police is your friend”.
Whether men of the Nigeria Police Force are insured or not is another factor that has affected the officers’ attitude to work. Most officers would rather not lay down their lives for anyone in the line of duty, knowing fully well that their dependants would suffer after they might have gone. And to worsen the situation, funds meant for pension of police officers have been stolen with the offenders getting away with mild punishments. Street Journal has gathered that in time past, most of the funds meant for the welfare of police officers were never used for the purpose they were meant for.
Investigations revealed that in some commands, policemen have to buy materials for their uniforms as well as some of the accessories, berets inclusive, from the open market, hence the lack of uniformity in shades of colours at times.
If the police could be neglected thus putting the security of lives and property at risk, findings have shown that the story is not entirely different about other sectors in the country. In the transport sector, the railways were left to rot away for decades before they were revitalized with huge amounts by the present administration. Many of the roads too got to their present states as a result of poor maintenance and outright neglect in some places.
The power sector has not fared any better than the others. The President and the Minister for Power have at various times assured Nigerians that power generation has indeed improved. The improvement has however not translated into a reduction in the rate at which Nigerians buy and use generators.
A confirmation that the neglect of infrastructure seems to have become a custom of Nigeria and her leaders emerged recently. A visitor to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC could not hide his surprise at seeing a tattered Nigerian flag flying at half mast in front of the embassy. The value of the surprise was mainly in the fact that the Ambassador and his staff resume there for work every morning and none of them ever saw anything wrong with the flag, an indication that the neglect is there in Nigerian administrators even outside the country.
In the Education sector, in many institutions, from primary to tertiary, students receive lectures sitting on bare floors and at times under trees just to obtain certificates. Such is the kind of training people that are ser to take over in the different sectors of the economy receive. Indirectly, they get trained that the worst is just normal.
The Health sector has clearly shown that even Nigeria’s leaders don’t trust the health institutions in the country. Most of Nigeria’s elected officials would rather go for treatment outside the country. A Governor who recently came back from a medical trip that kept him away for more than four months disclosed that most Governors who travel abroad take time to do medical check ups while in Europe.
Findings have revealed that the main cause of the neglect that has plagued the Nigerian system is the high level of corruption that has taken over the polity. The love for personal gains has eroded the passion for service and these days, the thought “what’s in it for me” is considered before most public officers make any contribution towards the nation’s progress. Until this notion changes, the culture of corruption induced neglect will continue unabated.