In commemoration of the National Democracy Day and the first anniversary of President Goodluck Jonathan’s one year in office, held on May 15, 2012, the ministers of Police Affairs, Navy Capt Caleb Olubolade and the Land, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Ama Pepple gave the scorecard of their respective ministries during the period under review. SPACES FOR CHANGE’s executive director, Victoria Ohaeri joined a wide spectrum of Nigerians who gathered to listen to the presentations by the two ministers: discussing and clarifying their common goals and disparate experiences, acknowledging the obstacles to the successful implementation of programs and policies, even as they began sought public opinion on how to shape realistic strategies for overcoming them.
Although the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is still young, one year is enough to report on progress being made, says Labaran Maku, Information Minister in his opening remarks. From that note of progress, Navy Capt. Olubolade narrated the variety of initiatives introduced to improve performance and service delivery in the Police Affairs Ministry despite the overwhelming security challenges which now includes terrorism. A sector-wide consultation, especially with the various police commands, conducted at the beginning of his tenure revealed monumental challenges facing the Nigerian Police Force. The problems are not limited to the following: inadequate barracks, inadequate police children’s schools, poor training, inadequate technical equipment, lack of trust between the people and the police resulting in poor service delivery. The problems persist as the country with a population of over 160,000,000 people is peopled by 370,000 police officers.
As part of the “Transformation Agenda” of the current administration, the President recently constituted a committee to reform the Nigeria Police Force. The committee introduced new policies and reorganized the NPF into the following component units:
- Research and Training
- Police Inspectorate
- Police Service Commission
- Special Duties
- 12 Zonal Commands
- 123 Area Commands
- 1,600 police stations and so forth
According to the Minister, the following are the deliverables expected under this current administration:
· Increase the police population from the current 370,000 to 650,000
· 90% of police population to be professionally trained in modern tactics and weapon handling
· Establishment of a Forensic Laboratory in Abuja manned by well-trained personnel in modern forensic science
· Preferential use of non-lethal weaponry in riot control, with option to resort to live ammunitions only in critical situations
· Establishment of 6 regional forensic laboratories established in each geo-political zone networked to the main forensic laboratory in Abuja and the Force Headsquarters
· A police Force that is accountable to the citizenry and respects HUMAN RIGHTS!
With the heightening political intrigues and horsetrading in preparation for the 2015 elections, these specific deliverables provide a compelling basis for citizens, especially the youth to demand effective governance and accountability from the Nigerian government, especially as it relates to the way individuals, communities as well as properties are policed and secured.