A few days ago, I was engaged in a long conversation with a Nigerian policeman. I figured that these guys could be your friends when they want to, so I thought it wise to take advantage of our situation to start a conversation. I was amazed at what the man shared with me, but I will try not to be too speculative (maybe, touch it up with a blend of my own thoughts and unconfirmed analysis).
I call this group of policemen the House Police because they embody the House Ni**as of America’s slave era. These guys have access to the richest and most influential Nigerians and are referred to as Yahoo Police by their colleagues. They earn top Naira and make huge returns to their bosses at the state commands, depending on what region they operate from and what daily/monthly rates are agreed with their commanders. This job is so lucrative that (in my opinion) a Special Persons Unit (SPU) has been set up by the NPF to cater to the needs of the super rich and politically affluent Nigerians. According to Premium Times, Nigeria has about 400,000 active policemen of which about 150,000 are actively engaged to VIPs and political office holders. This means that the rest of us only have about 250,000 policemen to look to, when criminal minded men of the underworld show up.
CHECK POINT POLICE
This is arguably the most hated group of policemen in Nigeria, they always find faults with your car papers and turn around to blame you for the typo which occurred as a result of the failures of another government official. We all know about these guys so I won’t bother.
The Swift Anti Robbery Squad of the NPF at both federal and state levels have become a bit of what they were created to fight against. Unfortunately for you and I, they have the backing of the law. The law set up for and by Nigerians is the same law they serve and protect to the detriment of the same citizens who they serve with terror and protect with multiple cases and allegations of stealing, kidnapping, physical abuse and in some cases extra judicial killings (I know this sounds confusing).
However, in all of these challenges faced by Nigerians at the hands of their internal security apparatus, there is a common denominator which devilishly tears at the heart of men and women of the Nigerian police force. Entry level salary for a police officer in Nigeria is less than N50,000/month (approximately $139 at N360 to $1). The Nigerian police officer shops at the same market as the senator who earns N13,000,000/ month (approximately $36,111) for organizing thugs to snatch the mace. The Nigerian police officer has to pay rent like you and I and his children have to go to school. Imagine being a police officer with two children of university age (the average tuition fee for a state owned University is N100,000)!
While I will not try to make any sort of excuse for Nigeria’s number 1 public enemy, we must collectively agree that the first step towards fixing our security system is to balance the payment structure in favour of men and women who are tasked with protecting our lives. You cannot pay these people peanuts for the suffering, hand them guns and expect them to be disciplined. How do they find the ability to be disciplined, when they are assigned to a jobless man who is a politician but lives in the biggest house on the street, drives the most expensive cars and sends his children to schools abroad to school?