To secure lives and property and also meet the United Nations (UN) approved ratio of one officer to 400 citizens, the Police must recruit 155, 000 more officers, Inspector-General (IGP) Ibrahim Idris said yesterday.
He spoke at the opening of the yearly National Security Summit in Abuja. The theme is “Forging partnerships for effective strategies to curb the menace of kidnapping, recurring farmers- herders clashes and criminality in Nigeria”.
The participants include: Governors Nasri El-Rufai (Kaduna); Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Ibrahim Dankwabo (Gombe); Interior Minister Abdulraman Dambazau; Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwunsi; Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Emir of Ilorin Ibrahim Gambari, Summit Planning Committee member, Prof Joseph Golwa and representatives of service chiefs and Commissioners of Police from states affected by armed crimes.
According to Idris, the police will have to hire 31,000 officers per year for the next five years to bridge the gap. He blamed the shortfall on non-recruitment into the rank and file cadre of the force between 2011 and 2016.
Idris said that within the period, the police suffered attrition as a result of retirements, death and resignation of personnel.
He said: “The absence of recruitment of able bodied Nigerians between 2011 and 2016 has left a huge gap in the manpower need of the force due to attrition as a result of retirements, death and resignation.
“To bridge this gap and attain the United Nations ratio requirement of one police officer to 400 citizens of a country, the Nigeria Police need to recruit additional 155 thousand officers to police the country’s population of approximately 182 million citizens.
“If this requirement is taken into consideration, the police need to recruit at least 31,000 police officers yearly for the period of at least five years from now. This recommendation has been forwarded for consideration of the federal government.”
Idris also lamented the poor funding of the police, restating the call for the passage of the Nigeria Police Region Trust Fund (Establishment) Bill, which has been in the National Assembly (NASS) since 2008.
“The issue of police funding has been critical to all past reforms panels since 19994, 2002, 2008 and 2015. However, the issue is yet to be critically addressed. So far, the best approach to funding of the police is the Bill which was table before the National Assembly in 2008 and is yet to be passed till date.
“The force is hereby soliciting the support and understanding of our National Assembly to give accelerated hearing to this bill so as to adequately position the police for better funding to enable the force discharge its statutory responsibilities effectively and efficiently.
“It would further provide a legal framework that would outline the counterpart funding arrangements between the federal government, states, local government and organised private sector.
“When the bill is passed, the police would be funded through a first line charge on the Federation Account quarterly from the sources indicated above.”
The IG said that there has been a lot of improvement in national security since President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumed office two years ago.
“Within available resources, the police, in collaboration with other security agencies have been able to stabilise the polity. Huge successes were recorded in the fight against kidnapping and other violent crimes nationwide,” Idris said.
He spoke of plans to establish more training institutions to boost specialisation within the institution for enhanced operational competence, adding that the police plan to establish training schools for border patrol, close protection and marine police units.
“The force is in advance stage of establishing a Border Patrol Training School in Kaduna and Imo states and a Marine Training School in Bayelsa State. We believe the establishment of these schools would enhance our capacities to tackle criminalities along out borders and dominate the creeks of the Niger Delta and other regions against saboteurs and oil theft.”
According to him, the force had established seven Police Mobile Force (PMF) Squadrons in seven states to enhance its capacity for swift response to challenges, adding that 14 Close Protection Units (CPU) bases have also been established in 14 states.
“This will go a long way to strengthen the PMF Squadrons in their assigned roles and responsibilities to respond professionally to violent crimes where necessary,” the IG said.
Governor Ortom said that there was no land for herdsmen to graze in Benue state, adding that a bill has been passed to ban open grazing in the Northcentral state.
Ortom said: “My state is one of the states affected by the challenges of farmers/herdmen and to curb the incessant issue, the House of Assembly passed a bill to ban open grazing.
He said: “The idea is not to send the herdsmen out but to restrict them from destroying our farm produces because that is the only thing our people rely on for livelihood since we don’t have industries.
“For us in Benue, there are no empty lands for grazing. No matter how the herdsmen feel they would be careful in directing their cattles. If they can’t control them in totality because they are animals, they end up destroying farms thereby causing crisis between farmers and the herders. I have not rested since I came on board.”
He proposed adoption of ranching as obtainable in other climes to enthrone peaceful coexistence.
Ortom said: “I propose that we practice what is done in other countries. Just the way we embraced democracy, which was not our original idea, I feel we should borrow ranching because it is the global best practice.
“Ranching cannot be done overnight. The herdsmen need support and they need new orientation. That (ranching) is the only thing that would bring lasting peace. We are not sending the herdsmen out but we do not have land for grazing.”
He added that the state would provide necessary infrastructure that will help the establishment of ranches.
Also speaking, Sultan Abubakar III, who chaired the event, charged security agents, political and traditional leaders on honesty and fairness, noting that the summit was apt, considering the series of challenges in the country.
He said: “Why is it that we keep talking about the same issues? We are never short of recommending solutions to our problems. If we are committed, honest and patriotic, we won’t sit here again, talking about the same issues.
“It is important to know that we must be honest with ourselves. Let’s have this as a forum that would take decisions, go back and implement them. Our problem is implementation either due to insincerity or selfishness.
“A criminal is a criminal, irrespective of who he is. We must work together with security agencies to arrest and prosecute criminals.
“It is important to have the fear of God in whatever we do. We must tell ourselves the truth. We hide behind ethnic – religious leanings to do whatever we want.
“National security must be placed above individual liberty. You cannot claim freedom of expression and insult everybody and cause problem.
“Security challenges are not only violence we see across the country; there are many. We have the media security challenge with people sending false information out. I am not saying the press should be gagged but the press should have patriotic commitment to say the truth.
“Intolerance of political leaders… when people of the same party can’t stand each other, and they have millions of followers…that’s a security challenge. It’s important for political rulers to play according to the rules.
“What’s the role of the police in being apolitical? We must play by the rules of the book we have. Political leaders should stop seeing critics, criticism as opposition. We must play according to the constitution of this country.
“Political corruption, hunger and unemployment are also security threats. Some of these issues are worst and are brought about by poor governance. We have millions of youths going about, doing nothing. I request us to be patriotic. We need to identify the problems that cause agitation.
“This should be the last farmers/herdsmen summit. We don’t support anyone going about with arms to harm others, no matter who they are or where they are from.”
Oba Ogunwunsi called for investing in morals and diversity, blaming most of the security challenges on lack of equity and good morals.
He said more attention should be given to building strong values, equity and strength of diversity, adding that once that is done, the menace being faced would not be much.
He said: “I have a different spin to the security issues in Nigeria. We are all concerned but we should invest in moral value, equity, in the strength of our diversity. If we focus more on these, the menace and security challenges would not be this much.
“We should ask why people are greedy; why people are not just and fair in their dealings; why are people taking sides. We should look at all these and if we focus on all the fundamental issues, we will not have all the challenges. If we invest in our diversity, which is our strength, then we won’t have security issues like it is witnessed presently.
The Ooni decried the rising wave of criminality amongst youths.
The monarch said: “The youths constitute over 70 per cent of the population and the rate of criminality is high amongst youths. There is the need to invest in morals because most of the crimes perpetrated are done by people between the ages of 18 and 50. It is rare for you to find people above 70 committing crimes.”