The police is your friend.
These golden words which glisten with the gold dust of some of Nigeria`s best public relations ironically strike Nigerians with the force of a horse whip.
Nigerians have always had a testy, stormy relationship with their police. Where there should be affirmation, there is aggravation; where there should be trust, there is treachery; where there should be compassion, there is consternation. So, the love-hate cycle has continued, conditioned by the chilling mechanics of crime that confront Nigeria`s rickety train of nationhood at each turn.
Against this background accentuated by the dark hue of national insecurity, news that Mr. Nnaji Ebenezer Chibueze, a Corporal of the Nigerian Police Force, recently got his PhD in Educational Administration and Planning from the Abia State University warmed the cockles of many hearts. Also, come the 8thof December 2021, Mr. Simon Lough, a lawyer and an Assistant Commissioner of Police, will make a sparkling ascent into the inner bar as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. A first.
Although Nigerians wish their police well, suspicion has long simmered about their temperament and training. Also, Nigerians have always questioned the rigor that goes into their recruitment and reskilling of the police having witnessed their protectors become plunderers under pecuniary pressure many times.
Nigerians have seen the ancient tools of extortion and extermination cunningly reinvented at the instance of the police. So, there was the Lekki toll gate as just one of so many spots around the country where protectors became plunderers beneath the merciless gaze of history.
To walk into many police stations across the country is to walk into veritable dungeons of depression with decrepit buildings competing with dilapidated desks for the attention of despondent policemen destitute of any iota of professionalism. Of course, Nigerians want police stations to be places of welcome even for suspects about to be subjected to judicial scrutiny.
As it is with the subhuman conditions at the police stations so it is with policemen. A systemic neglect of their welfare fueled by relentless corruption has occasioned a hemorrhage of dignity that has defied every cure till date. Like the woman with the issue of blood, the police desperately need a garment.
In spite of the extremely dangerous work, they do and the many sacrifices they make to keep Nigeria`s many master criminals at bay, when they die in the line of duty, Nigeria`s bureaucracy clicks into its most ponderous gear, leaving their heartbroken families stranded.
Nigerians want a sanitized police force culled of the brutes that spattered innocent blood on the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020. Nigerians want a police force without the killers who shoot and kill drivers and commuters when the slightest disagreement turns on twenty naira. Nigerians want a police force that is painstakingly professional and well-trained. Nigerians want a well-armed and well-remunerated police force. Nigerians would not mind for a second if the monthly pay packs of policemen get bigger than the humongously unjustifiable pay packets Nigerian ministers and legislators take home for doing comparatively less
To achieve this, corruption must be put to flight. Corruption`s congress of owls which turns even day to night to prey on Nigeria`s resources must be forced to cease its operations. This is even more critical now that a fresh round of recruitment is about to be undertaken into the Nigerian Police Force.
Wherever Nigerians turn, enemies abound. The many master criminals who walk the face of the country have been emboldened by the startling slumber of a once towering giant. The country must be roused again and the police can help with this.
Congratulations to Messrs. Nnaji Ebenezer Chibueze and Simon Lough. If they listen well, they will hear the rapturous applause of awestruck Nigerians. But until the police force is rid of its rotten eggs, Nigerians will remain hard-pressed to tell whether the police is friend or foe.