The media headlines in the past couple of days states the drive to recruit 10,000 new Police officers based on the instruction of PMB. If this is true, then I have serious concerns. Just recruiting more officers is not going to solve the problems of an unreformed police force.
Currently, research has shown that over 30 percent of current officers are not available for frontline policing because they are tied down as private security guards for VIPs, the rich and powerful. Another 10 percent are tied to several policing related agencies like EFCC. The United Nations benchmark for adequate policing is 200 per 100,000 population. Nigeria is about 220 based on the number of officers on the books and our official population. So as far as raw numbers go, Nigeria has reasonable numbers of officers on the payroll. Problem is that it does not feel adequate because a sizeable number are not available for frontline police work. So merely employing more officers will not solve the problem.
The police currently have just over 400,000 officers on the books. But the Nigeria Police Force have less than 10,000 walkie talkies. Almost 50 percent of police stations in the country do not have reliable patrol vehicle. The training regime for recruits perpetuates bad habits and is overtly reliant on use of physical force rather than constitutional rights protection.
I believe recruiting new officers is not the right course of action, but a fundamental reform must precede any recruitment exercise. This will include mass sacking of several many disgraced officers. And the Police Service Commission (PSC) must be scrapped as well as Ministry of Police Affairs. They are both useless and reservoir of corruption and incompetence. As at last week, the most up to date Annual report produced by the PSC on the state of the police and their management was in 2011. That was five years ago.
A total reform of the police is needed before we throw good money after bad.