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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ONE TURN FOR THE NIGERIAN POLICE


WARNING! You are not about to read the regular facts and popular sayings… I advice you to read on.

It is not a wonder why an average Nigerian will never consider being a police as his future ambition. It is still no wonder that nursing this ambition might sound like an abomination and the God forbid! comes out faster than a spittle —he might be thought of as going crazy. It is a job of circumstance. Even though, truly and realistically, should be the most respectable and successful profession. For the most reason, at least; it is a life-saving job. Who knows? These wonders might be hiding under the minute government irregularities and the bad side that we have always known. Seriously, we really do not want to be poor all our lives and live under the dependence of twenty naira or wait for our reward in heaven. Do we? I warned you, read on!

The Nigerian police force, when mentioned always leaves a bad taste in the mouth. As with the case of the bad eggs in every profession, the case of the Nigerian police is finding the good eggs; they are as rare as the bad eggs in other professions. One wish that I had for Dr. Dora Akunyili’s rebranding was that it should be extended to the Nigerian police force not for the world to see, but for Nigerians to see, to have hope at least, not faith for the Nigerian police. That every Nigeria begin to see the white side of the Nigerian police force, which has always been a wonder to me; why the blackness of their uniform is attached to their image.

I have also wondered why the 20 naira seems like a big deal—mouth watering? Why they always come after and not during robbery operations and riots to catch the thieves and fighters? Why accidental discharge became the best phrase for their irresponsibility; something should be wrong somewhere…
I thought so too, when I read the story of a Police Corporal, Hope Adeleke, who lost his six children and wife in a fire accident and could not afford to pay a bill of 231,000 naira, this is the part of the story that struck me: that his two years salary cannot pay a bill of 231,000 naira! The first question I asked myself was, is his salary one naira or does he mean to say the bill is 2million naira. I came to a realizing conclusion… ‘come to think of it’; the Nigerian police force is suffering and suffering men will do no good, they will always cherish their 20 naira, they will always run for their lives, and will always accidentally discharge.

Again, I thought: there should be one turn for the police, one turn and things might change for them and for us. May be we should ask ourselves one question, the same question that I asked myself and it dawned on me—you know, the traditional way of expressing the extent of how bad things have gone—haba! That question is; will you blame this policeman if he gathers all the twenty naira in the world to pay his bills?

I am not patting them on the back, neither am I giving them a cup of ice cream. All I am saying is that if you pay a man that miserly a month and you expect him to save you? You might as well ask him to kill you first, what is his salary compared to what he is subjected to—to save our lives and protect our properties for that meagre some. Think about it too, yes even if they are recruits, another problem I have with our government, is that why they should be paid miserly? When you see these police recruits, they look like clowns, laughable—shabbily dressed; a sagging faded black drape, worn out shoes, and they lack that confidence you want to see in a policeman. Then you will begin to ask yourself, who will save who?

What of that if they are recruits? They have been enlisted, which means they should be prepared, trained and equipped… and well paid. But the policemen men I see around look like they have been picked not recruited and our lives are entrusted in the hands of picked men, what do we hope to get if not the torture of corruption, bribery (egunje), unnecessary and unwarranted arrests. With these picked men, we will continue to blame and call them names because they will continue to do these things ‘to make ends meet’ and I am afraid their ends will never meet because the meagre that they get will continue to stretch it.

One turn for the police and we might begin to see, and like Nigeria, they should be given a chance—a chance that is—their salary be raised, good benefits and be properly equipped with guns not ‘gun powder’ guns (or do we expect them to protect us, when their ‘competitors’ are carrying AK-47 and more?). Then we might begin to count their scores but until then, I do not wish to curse and swear, or to blame and fight. One turn for the police might just be enough.