Despite being duly served invitation, the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, NPTF for the second time, failed to appear at the National Performance Assessment Meeting for the NPTF, held at Abuja, the nation’s capital on Wednesday.
The PTF Act 2019, was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, to address the perennial underfunding of the Police by providing an additional window for police funding.
It has a 6-year lifespan and is presently in its third year already, with the life span expected to elapse in about 2 years and some months, unless extended by the National Assembly.
There have been questions around the about N151 billion the Fund had raked in budgetary allocations between 2020 to 2022, in consideration of the very poor condition of the Police infrastructure and poor welfare of Police personnel across the country.
There are also issues with the activities of the Fund and the defects of the Act, as regards the constitution of the Board of the trust Fund.
At the Abuja Performance Assessment Meeting, stakeholders from the CSOs Observatory and Oversight Platforms across the geo-political groups as well as relevant agencies including Human Rights groups attended.
In his welcome remarks, the Executive Director of RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwanguma said they are a member of a Police Reform Consortium implementing different activities with support from the MacArthur Foundation, alongside CLEEN Foundation which is the Consortium lead with other members including the Rule of law office in the Presidency, the National Human Rights Commission and NOPRIN Foundation.
He explained that the broad objective of the project being implemented by the Consortium is to promote police accountability and entrench a rights-respecting policing atmosphere in Nigeria in line with democratic values.
“One of the activities being implemented by RULAAC as a member of the consortium is the establishment of a Civil Society Organisations Observatory (CSO-PTF Support and Oversight Group) on the Implementation of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 and the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019.
“Beginning from January 2022, RULAAC and the consortium members have gone round the 6 geopolitical zones of Nigeria and inaugurated a CSO-PTF Support and Oversight Group in each of the zones.
“The Observatory is to act as a catalyst to spur the Police Trust Fund to deliver on its mandate. The CSO-PTF Support Groups in the various zones have been engaging in online conversations and carrying out sensitisation to create public awareness across the geo-political zones on the existence of the Police Trust Fund and its mandate.
“In furtherance of our efforts to contribute to ensuring effective implementation of the PTF Act so that the purpose of setting up the Police Trust Fund is achieved – which is to improve funding and enhance the capacity of the NPF to effectively perform its constitutional and statutory duties, RULAAC, in partnership with the consortium, decided to convene this National Performance Assessment Meeting to enable all stakeholders from across the country and from different institutions and organizations to come together and do a collective assessment of impact and to know how far the NPTF has got along achieving its mandate,” he said.
Nwanguma revealed that the Performance Assessment meeting which is supported by McArthur, builds on the previous intervention by RULAAC in partnership with the OSJI, noting that from their interventions, there have been key issues, observations and concerns around both the Police Act itself and its implementation.
“This meeting is therefore convened for us to do a joint assessment of the performance and impact of the NPTF, how transparent and accountable it has been in the management of the funds and how far it has (or has not) achieved its objective of improving police funding and effectiveness in the discharge of their duties.
“With the forum, we are looking to have exhaustive and revealing discussions will set the tone for conversations around the success or otherwise in the implementation of the Police Trust Fund Act and whether it has achieved the purpose of establishing the trust fund.
“We hope that this meeting will objectively assess the performance of the PTF with a view to coming up with a score card and recommendations on how the PTF may achieve its objective of improving police resourcing, effectiveness and professionalism, and ultimately safety and security,” Nwanguma noted.
Mr Stanley Ibe, a Senior Partner with Goodshare and Maxwells Consulting Firm, who chaired the meeting, said while it was right for the government to set up the Police Trust Fund to augment the financing of the Police, the big question is how far the Fund has gone since it was set up.
According to him, with its over 300,000 personnel spread across the country, it becomes important that their affairs and welfare be taken care of well.
“How we treat the Police affects us as citizens and the country must commit to their welfare.
“But there are two ways to it. When you provide the tools Police personnel desire to work effectively, you must also provide the platforms for accountability. That means, you must give the citizens the capacity to demand accountability because the bulk of the money going into the welfare of the Police and providing them resources, comes from the citizens,” he said.
Ibe maintained the Police Service Commission, PSC is a civilian oversight institution for a reason, insisting that “if you take an average police officer and ask them to oversight an institution they passed through, there is a tendency for them to try to protect the institutions and therefore cannot give room for accountability.
“Therefore, there is no way the civilians who brings the money cannot be allowed to oversight the Police through the PSC.
“Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, the PSC has been led by either serving or retired police officers
“I am glad that RULAAC is taking the responsibility of prying into this to ask the very important questions about why the Police is still having the changes they are having.
“If we are going to make the Police work, we must make the Police Trust Fund accessible and transparent and every hand must be on deck.
“Public institutions and persons elected into public offices have got to recognize that they are servants of the people, so when people ask them to come and talk about what they are doing, they shouldn’t feel that they are doing the people some good,” he concluded.
A Director at the Police Service Commission, Aminu Abubakar observed that a major challenge for the PSC has been the appointment of ex-police personnel to chair the PSC, harping on the need for a seasoned administrator to chair the Commission.
He also highlighted paucity of funds as a major challenge for the PSC, suggesting the release of some of the funds allocated to PTF to the PSC to enable it to carry out its mandate
“The main problem of the Commission is lack of funds. “We lack money to handle our issues but the Commission is making efforts to ensure that there are enough funds.
“It is unfortunate that PTF is not here because the bulk of the discussion is centred around them.
“We hope the meeting will improve activities of the stakeholders to enable them play their roles efficiently and effectively,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of the NHRC Anthony Ojukwu represented by a Senior Legal Officer at the Commission, NHRC, Naiyeju Bukunmi described the efforts by RULAAC and members of the Consortium as commendable and gave the assurances of the Commission towards supporting the initiative.
In a goodwill message, a representative of the CLEEN Foundation, Olaniyi Olumuyiwa observed that the intention with the trust fund was to see how the problem of funding for the police will be solved once and for all but it appears nothing has been done.
He harped on the need for CSOs to continue to push and ask questions until the desired change comes in the way the Police is funded and things begin to work the way they should.