Thursday, 23 August 2012


How prepared should a society that wants to adopt and maintain the image of a state police look like?  The state of its cultural and socio-political values must be the first question the government and the citizens of Nigeria or any other third world nation ask, before venturing into a project that would end up tearing the country apart. Salient questions, as what is the financial status of the local economy of each state? The effect of the social and cultural cohesion within the indigenous people and those perceived to be settlers? How effectively does its judiciary functions? What amendments should be made to the prevailing constitution? What infrastructural support and capacity building mechanism exists in the state and the nation as a whole to meet the demand of the people in a world of globalization and its corruptible influence, must be taken into consideration before adopting a state police program. 

Nigeria, being a heterogeneous society is a place where its people have been known to be living with each other peacefully no matter the circumstances that befell them.  In different cities, towns and localities, one cannot but find a Nigeria from another ethnic or religious group living in other majority dominated ethnic groups,which he do not share the same faith with. These shows the level of  integration in Nigeria and it explains that faith does not play a major role in the common good of its citizenry. The major challenges the Nigerian society faces can be said to be associated with politics, demography, economics, ineffective governance, corruption, illiteracy and religious intolerance carved out of political ambition by politicians. These differences have played a significant role in shaping almost every administration since independence. And this is not because of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates of the entity called Nigeria but the intent and the aim was only to achieve a divide and rule tactics by its colonial master for its own political and economic purposes and this was what subsequent leaders relied upon to divide the people.

The first set of Nigerian leaders knew this problem and they worked hard to develop each region and at the same time did promote unity in diversity among its people. Constructive competitions which brought about growth and massive economic development for the people of each region was their target even though, they came from different political parties. That was why, when a major project takes effect in one region, the others try to emulate it quickly for the sake of their people. These brought about more human and occupational migration which expanded local trade among those living in the southern and northern parts of the country. But subsequent leaders over the decades never thought about the interest of the nation or its people as a whole, rather, they  began to behave like their former colonial masters who stole from the land.  In order to keep getting access to the abundant resources and to keep safe their stolen wealth from the public, western businesses and government officials entered into an unholy pact with the Nigerian political elites their allies in government to defraud the nation and siphon the nation's collective wealth and this led to massive national  resources and income being misappropriated for personal gains till date.

The culture of being in government at all cost or close to the corridors of power became a perception embedded in the knowledge of every Nigerian.  Access to government coffers is believed to be the only safety net from escaping poverty and a route to success. Enriching ones local or foreign bank account through public funds was the only means to be relevant in the governance of the Nigerian society at the expenses of the public and staying in the political arena means one dictates the direction of government policies. If that cannot  be achieved, a stolen fund acts as a guaranty which simply gives one an opportunity to secure an official government positions in the future. 
 Many among those that have ruled and enjoyed from the national treasury and are today the elites still have the divide and rule mentality and whenever they loss their grip on power, based on differences in political party, ideology, religion and ethnicity, the income they have made in the past is used as a spring board to attack the existing government's legitimacy to create chaos among the citizenry.

 And for those in power who have the access to federal or state treasury and security, it serves as a means for retribution in many horrendous ways, which increases the tension and pressure in the polity. These officials who have the chance to be with existing regimes defend the regime till the last days of its existence no matter how bad its policy and administration is towards the people. But with the advent of democracy  on May 29, 1999, democracy has brought with it an increasing political culture and political socialization among Nigerians and its electorates. Nigerians are becoming enlightened everyday and the ability to question the effectiveness of their leaders on every intended policy or program and laws is gaining momentum.

But when it comes to the adoption of a state police to protect the local citizenry in each state, it will surely end up being a tool in the hands of the politicians.

What Nigerians need to first understand in its composition as an entity is that, it was the Federal government that created the state governments, by the Yakubu Gowan administration on May 27,1967. Three days before Ojukwu declared the state of Biafra in Eastern Nigeria. Nigeria Federal composition must not at any time be compared to that of the United States, for there is no relationship between the two. In the U.S. it was those states that agreed to form a union against their colonial master Britain and that act brought about the formation of its federal union. The advocates of a state police need to know that the U.S. state police have also been accused of several crimes ranging from killing innocent citizens to profiling of minorities in the country for years since its existence and yet they have not being able to find solutions to it.  The Nigerian states were created to break the hold of the unified secessionist Biafran military regime which was predominantly dominated by a single ethnic group of the Igbo extraction with some few officers and men of the South-south region.

For a society that has not yet recovered from the traumas of the past federal police brutality and still waiting to see if it can get out of the intensive care unit of reforms which are still heading for the rocks due to all talk but no actions of the Nigerian leaders, one should be bothered seriously why some influential Nigerians will be calling for the adoption of a state police and ask if it was for their own personal interest or for the interest of the public. Nigerians should not talk of a state police when the Nigerian judiciary is in itself flawed state and cannot reform itself  to deliver justice in its courts. The judiciary which is the last hope of the common man is riddled with corruption and even more so, much of their practitioners in the Nigerian Bar Association are political party card carrying members, which makes it difficult to see the judiciary as an institution that would safe the excesses of the state executives.

It is not possible for now to adopt a state police, when the governor will be the one to nominate the state commissioner for police affairs at the state level, while the federal government have its police commissioner too in the same state. At the present state of the Nigerian police, it has been difficult for the Nigeria police to even arrest political agents and well known individual of the ruling party that violate electoral laws during and after elections based on allegations of ballot snatching, bribery and corruption. when this exists, then it is evident that, election mal-practice will not be challenged by the state police.
One can use Hisba in Kano as an example of a state police, it once served  as a state Islamic religious police and when one hears some of the threat it poses to the public with its operation and the manner in which it harasses the people, a better understanding of the consequences will be known easily.  Or simply take LASTMA in Lagos as an example too, if they were to be armed with weapons, I believe the nation will not be ready to document more records of accidental discharge of bullets from AK47 assault rifles given to the young exuberant state security officials who will be willing to extort money from the innocent public.

 In this state police agitation, Nigerians have to be calm and put on their thinking caps and not to add to the  present problems its facing on security, but take proper care of the foundation first and build a lasting institution without negative influence. I painted a scenario whereby a governor of a state in Nigeria will be issued with a warrant of arrest and would insist he is not ready to obey the court order, believing his political opponents where behind his ordeal; it is certain that the state police would have to face the federal police in a battle to secure the arrest of the governor of such state in order to bring him to justice.
The fact is that the Nigeria society at both the state and federal level is not matured socially in the context of adopting a state police, it has no institutional pattern of adopting and managing the peoples affairs in security, administration, public policy implementation and the Nigerian socio-political establishment make-up is not tailored towards institutionalization of its officials but made to run and radiate around personalities that head different government agencies for a short period which leads to instability in policy implementation.

Having stated this, other questions that should be answered before embarking on a state police program are:
 What ethnic group will dominate the state police?
Who has the total control of the state police?                                                          
Who appoints the Chief Justice of the State?
Which religious group would dominate the police structure?
Would the state police not be politicize?
To whom would the state police be answerable?
What sort of weapons would the state police handle?
Who nominates the commissioner for police affairs?
How would the constitution be amended?
What structure would the state police depend upon for transparency and scrutiny?
Who pays the state police and from what strategic fund?
How efficient is the judiciary?
Will the state police be aligned to the federal police?

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