As we grapple with the unreasonable hike in prices and destabilised economy, there has been a lot of uproar, agitation amongst the citizens of the country to #EndSars #Endpolicebrutality on account of the inhumane killings that had led to the loss of innocent lives, wrongful imprisonment and harassment of law-abiding citizens on a daily basis by the Nigeria Police Force for the purpose of extorting citizens of hard-earned money or otherwise.
I can’t write about this and not mention the fact that the system that has been set in place in Nigeria is villainous to it’s citizens, average Nigerian citizens have to thrive, sweat, often allow themselves to be degraded to make ends meet. While we won’t deny the fact that fraudulent activities are being glorified now, it still doesn’t justify the baseless actions of our security agencies. The process of recruitment by the Nigeria Police Force is awfully flawed. Sometimes I sit and wonder why we expect anything less from such a system, many police personnel that I’ve come across in my short adult years have been nothing short of incompetent humans out to seek monetary gains even though it comes at a price of enforcing injustice on the people they’ve been charged to protect.
The law enforcement institutions in Nigeria, more often than not, have failed the citizens when it comes to executing their primary purpose of service. It’s a lot to take in and with all that has been going on, when you allow yourself to think deeply and dwell on it, you can’t help but try to find the root of the problem and how to end it or at least control it, a thought process that I believe brought about the #EndSars campaign on social media platforms and across the nation.
I reckon that these officials are bunch of underpaid individuals whose responsibilities are greater than what they earn and seek to make ends meet no matter how low they have to go to become the guttersnipe officials that most of them are today, which brings me to my main purpose of writing this article. How can we curtail this vile situation and hopefully lift our government out of the their quandary on how to meet the public safety needs of the state? I’d strongly suggest defunding salary budget of the House of Representatives members; N1.9m monthly salary and senators; N700,000 basic salary out of $37,500 monthly for office expenses/duties(which expenses and duties biko) and regulating the money to the civil authority, which simply means “reducing the salary budgets for the members of our legislative houses and redistributing the funds to institutions that are underfunded like the Nigeria Police Force”.
At N403bn, the 2020 budget for the Nigeria Police Force is the highest it has been allocated in the last five years in terms of amount. However, the ratio of this amount to the total security budget is lower than it has been in the same period. In specific terms, the 2020 budget of N403bn is 22.3% of the total security budget while the 2015 police budget of N321bn was 32.5% of the total security budget (these figures might seem enormous to you guys but it’s nothing compared to what’s meant to be allocated to our main security agency), with disproportionate allocation of funds across the system. Despite the figures, incomplete release of funds has been cited as a major challenge.
These people are meant to uphold the citizen’s right to safety, why then are they being treated like they don’t matter in the scheme of things. The countries of the world with lowest crime rates have well funded police force, it won’t end crime, but it would reduce it because more police officers will be willing and efficient in dispatching his/her duties because he/she knows that coupled with the privilege of protecting Nigerian citizens (for those that actually chose the line of duty for this purpose), he/she is being well compensated for it. If the criminal justice of the state shuts down, the state will no longer function. The government needs to start paying more attention to the security agencies, allocate more funds in the annual budgets and actually release the whole funds that has been allocated.
The recent protests is what we need, a cry from the citizens to demand the promised change and a right to simply “stay alive” but to #EndSars i.e completely eradicate the Special Anti-Robbery Squad; while effective for the meantime, wouldn’t cut it in the long run. We need reforms and I strongly suggest that one of them should be defunding the House members and redistributing their funds to the law enforcement institutions to curb corruption and flawed recruitment process to ensure better transparency and accountability.