By Yusuf Ishaku Goje
While the debate rages on the need for State Police; as good as it sounds, can we pause for a minute and ask ourselves how well have State governors ensured the independence of key institutions presently within their tier of government? How independent and effective is our state legislatures, local governments and SIECOM under the Governors? What guarantee do we have that the police force under the Governors will not suffer the same abuse as the above institutions?
Let’s not pretend to be unaware that many of the Governors still find it difficult to consistently pay monthly salaries and provide meaningful infrastructural development. What guarantee then do we have that adding the police force to their responsibility will not lead to the total collapse of our internal security system – due to the inability to provide adequate funding worse than what is obtainable now?
As we are also aware, the bandits and insurgents that threaten our corporate existence operate across state borders, with free movements in and out of states. What happens when there is no corporation or synergy between neighboring states with separate security agencies, can a single state fight trans-border crime alone and succeed? A point of reference is the discordant tunes on the appropriate approach of fighting banditry coming from the Governors of the North-West.
History should have taught us that mere creation of new or restructured institutions is not sufficient to solving a complex problem like crime and insecurity. For instance, initially, the police were in charge of fighting fraud and corruption; but we have now created EFCC and ICPC, as a result can we say those twin crimes have been drastically curbed? Can we also say that the establishment of the NSCDC (Civil Defense), with the aim of complementing the police, has significantly reduced civil crime?
It is common knowledge that the underlaying trigger for the rising crime and insecurity is injustice, inequality, illiteracy, unemployment and poverty – which is as a result of bad leadership. What have governors done to address these challenges in their various states? What is the level of their actual investment in Human Capital Development in terms of budget releases/cash-backing, quality service delivery and development outcomes?
Let’s not over-simplify the solution by wrongly assuming that creating State Police is a silver bullet, which will automatically solve the persistent insecurity challenge. What should come to mind is, is there the enabling environment for the establishment of State Police to ensure it effectively delivers security, law and order in the various states and the country as a whole?
How do we ensure that the establishment of State Police will not create another problem while trying to solve the present problem? What legal framework should be put in place to ensure that Governors do not abuse State Police by appointing their stooges to do their bidding particularly becoming tools to witch-hunt political opponents? Simply put, what measures will be put in place to ensure he that pays the piper will not dictate the tune?
The problem of Nigeria to my mind goes beyond structures, laws, policies and programs – as in themselves they are lifeless – rather it is more of attitudinal. Give a person with the right attitude a bad structure or policy and he will make it work; likewise, give a person with a wrong attitude the best structure and policy he will surely mismanage it. We have a prevailing negative attitude towards Nigeria, which sees it as a country to be exploited rather than a nation to be built.
It seems that people in high places are cashing out of the present insecurity situation, which has become a big business with extensive value-chain. Consequently, even if you establish the State Police, they will still find their way around it. Our security (or insecurity) largely rises and falls base on the quality of leadership across board, period. If they want the present insecurity to stop, it will.
We have been publicly told by high-ranking office holders, then out of office, that if insecurity persist then the government must know about it. Also, a President once told us that members of the dreaded boko haram had infiltrated his government. Further, if a clergy can locate the bandits without troops, intelligence apparatus and drones; then the government should not have a problem locating them.
Playing politics or to the gallery with the present insecurity challenge is the biggest problem. A change of attitude is key if we are to find a lasting solution to the insecurity that threatens to destroy us. State Police can work only when the enabling environment is created first. Don’t put the cart before the horse.
Nigeria shall surely rise again.