Budget 2012 (7) – Reforming the Police
By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
We conclude our review of the state of the Nigeria Police today, starting with correcting some errors in last week’s column. I am grateful to two of my twitter followers that drew my attention to them. Lord Lugard lived between 1858 and 1945, so could not have formed the Hausa Constabulary in 1861! I have rechecked my source, and cross-checked with other sources. I can confirm that the first police-like force set up in what became Nigeria was the Consular Guard of 30 men set up in Lagos in 1861.
The Hausa Guard was formed in 1863, and became Hausa Constabulary in 1879 by an Ordinance. Lugard first came to Nigeria in 1894 to negotiate a treaty with the Emir of Borgu, and then returned in 1897 as commander of the West African Frontier Force (WAFF). He became Commissioner of the Northern Protectorate in 1900, had conquered the emirates by 1903. I thank my friends for the observation.
It is obvious by now that we will never have a functioning Nigerian state without an effective police force. It is also clear that the practice of splitting and outsourcing police functions to new, equally ill-trained paramilitary organizations has not served our nation well, nor resolved the challenges of policing and law enforcement. In a nation that seeks to get things done, all efforts ought to have been directed at making the police work, with organizations like ICPC, EFCC, Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Federal Road Safety Commission as departments of a reformed, well-funded, better trained and effective Federal Police.
An analysis of the national budgets for the Nigeria Police since 1980 reveals a pattern of continuous under-funding. Apart from 1983, under the Shagari administration when the Police got allocated 10.7% of the national budget, in all other years, including 2011 and 2012, the Police with its nearly 400,000 staff got allocated an average lower than 5%. Furthermore, when the funds are released, the headquarters, zonal and area commands with-hold substantial amounts leaving pretty little for intelligence-gathering, street patrols and policing at the divisional and station levels where most of the law enforcement is done. This must change.
As chair of the Public Service Reform Team (PSRT), I was shocked to learn that the take-home pay of a police constable in 2006 was a mere N7,000 monthly. The private in the Nigerian Army then earned N11,000 which got me wondering what kind of nation would give a gun with bullets to a man, put him on the beat and pay such a low wage and expect proper policing. The PSRT doubled the police base pay with a proviso for it to be increased by 10% annually for the ensuing 5 years to bring it near to the salaries of the armed forces. I wonder if that policy decision has been implemented.
The total budget of the Police sub-sector in 2012 is N331.2bn (N328.5bn in 2011) made up of Ministry of Police Affairs (N5.8bn, in 2011, N13.3bn), Police Formations and Command (N307.9bn, 2011 – N295.6bn), Police Service Commission (N2.5bn, 2011 – N2.6bn) and Federal Government’s Contribution to the Police Reform Fund (N15bn, 2011 – N25bn). The Ministry of Police is a wasteful bureaucracy that controls police pensions and awards contracts for some police facilities. It can be scrapped and savings there-from transferred to Police functions proper.
The Police Formations and Commands’ budget for 2012 consists of N290.7bn for the personnel cost of between 380,000 and 400,000 police officers. The overhead cost of running 1,115 police divisions, 5,515 police stations and 5,000 police posts nationwide is a mere N8.1bn. If we hypothetically adopt the police division, station and post as bases for equal overheads distribution, this works out to about N696,000 annually per division, station and post – even with zero going to headquarters, zonal and area commands. This is still less than N2,000 per day to run a police station – which explains why the stations have no stationery, crime diary and even biros to take down statements!.
One way to achieve this is to restructure and redesign the Police budget such that each post, station, division, area, state and zonal commands as well as headquarters have their budgets and bank accounts. Budgeted funds should then be transferred direct to each unit and the heads held accountable for the judicious use of funds. This is difficult to do but not impossible. The Ministry of Finance implemented that with respect to our foreign missions when we found that the headquarters in Abuja with-held mission funds without reasons. The system has worked better since 2005 when it was introduced. The same system may be considered for Police Formations.
The breakdown of the overheads reveals some interesting spending priorities. The entire training budget of the Nigeria Police is a miserly N851 million, with an additional N55 million for travel associated with the training. Compare this with the N14bn budgeted for the Armed Forces training and its institutions! The security vote (including operations) for the entire Nigeria Police is N259 million – less than N1 million daily to spend on informants, intelligence gathering and patrols, out of the N3.1 billion budgeted daily on security – and yet, the Police is the first line of defence against criminal conduct. In sharp contrast, the NSA with his less than 100 advisory staff has N950 million as security and operations vote for 2012. This is part of the reason we opined that the nation has failed the Police, and yet blames it for failing us!
On return to democracy in 1999, the Nigeria Police was some 140,000 strong. This critical shortfall was addressed through the massive recruitment of some 40,000 police officers per annum between 2000 and 2005.
Sadly, this well-intentioned decision enabled the recruitment of several shoddy characters into the Police, thereby compounding its institutional challenges. This “Millennium Police” as they are referred to, need to be re-screened, retrained in better-equipped and upgraded institutions, and the dodgy characters weeded out for Nigeria to have the police it deserves. Related to this is the need to recall, retrain and post to proper police duties, the estimated 120,000 police officers currently posted to undertake “VIP protection” that is serving as orderlies, hand-bag carriers and other irrelevant duties for the political and economic elite. The police ought to be deployed protecting the general public not a select few, and certainly not given demeaning jobs of opening doors and holding bags and briefcases of the rich and famous. The IGP should put an end to this.
The Police Reform Fund was the initiative of Dr. Ibrahim Yakubu Lame when he was Minister of Police Affairs. A bill was drafted in 2010 to establish the fund to finance a medium-term (six-year) programme of reforming the Nigeria Police to be contributed by the three tiers of government. Even though the bill was not enacted into law, budgetary provisions have been made since then – a total of N40bn in 2011-12, with a similar contribution by the state and local governments. Where are these monies? Who controls the fund in the absence of the enabling law and the Trust fund? These issues need further scrutiny in light of a recent media report credited to Parry Osayande that the PSC requires an allocation of N420bn per annum for 5 years to “implement its reform of the Police Force”. As civil society watchdog NOPRIN has rightly observed, the current state of the Police is largely attributable to the failures of the PSC in the last 12 years. It is therefore the body least qualified to reform the police or manage fund for its improvement. This is the same PSC that kicked out some of its finest officers (like Nuhu Ribadu) and demoted a dead police officer! The PSC should reform itself first before anyone takes it seriously!
For our police to regain its effectiveness, its officers and men need to be better paid, with adequate housing allowances to enable them afford accommodation wherever they may be posted. In 2006, as part of our work in the Public Service Reform Team, an eight-year N200bn barracks development programme was approved for the Nigeria Police nationwide, which included the rehabilitation of their run-down facilities. Sadly, like most things left behind for successors, the programme floundered. This needs to be addressed in lieu of special, preferential mortgage facilities for police officers to own their homes. The Boko Haram insurgency claimed the lives of more police officers than any other uniformed service. The total welfare of police officers must include the review of the insurance, injury and death benefits payable to their dependants. various police reform committees
The Police needs adequate transportation, communications, armament and logistic technologies to be able to respond to criminal activities in a timely manner. In the 2012 Budget, N52 million has been provided for motorcycles, N203 million for vehicles, N310 million for vans, and N596 million for armored personnel carriers. The Police Command also proposes to spend N431 million on arms and ammunition, N84 million for video security surveillance systems in Borno, Kano, Oyo, Edo and Anambra States, N52 million for automatic fingerprint identification system, N84 million for forensic and DNA test laboratory, and N241 million for explosive ordinance disposal equipment for the Anti-Bomb Squad.
Other significant items of expenditure in the 2012 Budget include N295 million for anti-riot equipment, N450 million for bullet-proof vests gear, N243 million for anti-terrorism equipment (whatever that means), N165 million for security intelligence equipment, and N271 million for UHF walkie-talkies and rehabilitation of its outdated analog UHF communications system. The budget for barracks rehabilitation and construction is N585 million. These are mostly grossly inadequate. And by far the most disgraceful is the state of police communications network – expensive, outdated and insecure for the challenges of the 21st century, but preserved due to entrenchment of vested interests. This is one area urgently needing focused implementation.
Another lingering issue related to the reform of the Police is whether the pre-1966 arrangement is not better – that is one in which State Police will operate side by side the federal police. Those in favour recall with nostalgia when our police forces worked and cooperated, apprehending criminals and being widely respected. Those against admit this but point out that a lot has changed since then in terms of demography, technology and propensity to criminal behaviour. The antagonists of State Police also add that the various regional governments used their police to intimidate, harass and victimize political opponents. Enabling our imperial state governors to have their personal police would bring back those dark days of oppression, it is argued.
My position and that of our party the CPC are clear. We support the amendment of the Constitution to allow establishment of state and community police. This is because I believe that policing is largely a local, community-level matter. It makes no sense to hire a person from Calabar, send him to Maiduguri in search of criminals or insurgents without understanding the language, culture and dominant religion of the area. This amendment will also entail the redefinition of our criminal law to distinguish between federal crimes (which the federal police will have jurisdiction) and state crimes which the state police will handle. Jurisdiction over interstate crimes will necessarily be vested in the federal police, and our courts will be restructured jurisdictionally accordingly. This also means for instance, that the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria and the Criminal Code applicable to the Southern States need to be amended.
Is there likelihood of gross abuse by the state governors in such a scenario? Certainly. The governors will try to employ all their erstwhile thugs as the new State Police. And they will attempt unleashing them on the opposition and political opponents. It is our duty as citizens to stand up to them. Not doing the right thing because we fear the abuse by some of 36 individuals is not an option. The governors must be checked by the power of citizens. And unless the police is made to work, we will not have a functioning state. And that will be a very sad thing indeed.