Welfare of police officers has to be paramount before progress can be made on police reforms [Pulse Editorial]

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It is little wonder that police officers are not respected and regarded across Nigeria. It is little wonder that they are treated like beggars by motorists and citizens alike.

A recent special report on Pulse highlights the poor sanitary conditions of police barracks or accommodation facilities for serving officers; and underlines why members of the force are so unmotivated and prone to fits of anger during encounters with members of the public.

“If you look at the number of police officers in Lagos and you juxtapose that with the number of housing opportunities available to them, you’ll realise that beyond the fact that those facilities are overstretched, 60 percent of the police officers are housed outside the barracks,” says police spokesperson Frank Mba.

Frank Mba, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Police Force says every police officer including the Inspector General of Police is complaining about the state of police barracks (LIB)

“While police stations and police responsibilities are increasing at a geometric rate, residential facilities of the police are almost at a stand still or at best growing at an arithmetic proportion,” Mba adds.

Over the years, governments have paid scant attention to issues pertaining to proper remuneration for our police officers, decent accommodation for officers, proper training for officers so they can deal with members of the public the right way, and a reorientation of new police recruits.

In a way, the corrupt police officers roaming the streets are a reflection of a failing Nigerian society. They are us. If we want the police to change, it may just be time to look in the mirror ourselves as a people and as a government.

A man or woman who feels so unloved by the system is bound to unleash his/her venom on hapless citizens and transfer that aggression, however unjustly.

While not making a case for the bribery, corruption and extra-judicial killings that have become the story of the force, it may be time to review police salaries once more and conditions of service of the men and women tasked with the arduous responsibility of keeping us all safe.

One of the deteriorating Police-Barracks in Nigeria (The Bridge)

The Police Service Commission led by former police boss Musiliu Smith, the Ministry of Police and the Police Trust Fund have got to do more in terms of providing better conditions of service for the rank and file.

The federal government has to review how much is earmarked for the police in annual budgets and police bosses have to ensure that junior officers get the pay that is due to them and on time too.

We all have a role to play in entrenching a police force that we can all be proud of–a police force that looks the part and one that is capable of dealing with the demands, intricacies and challenges of a 21st century society.

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*Pulse Editorial is the viewpoint of the editorial team of Pulse. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation Pulse.

Source: Pulse Nigeria.

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