The plan to give the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force a new enhanced salary is likely to boost their morale if it is faithfully implemented. The Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyyadi, revealed the plan during the 2021 budget defence with the joint National Assembly Committee on Police Affairs. President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly directed the Salaries and Wages Commission to work out the details and submit to the government for consideration.
Although this is not the first time the government will moot the idea of increasing the salary of the officers and men of the force, each time not much has come from such plans. We hope the present intervention to improve the welfare of personnel in the force will not be flouted this time around.
Considering the fact that the monthly salary of an average police officer in the country, especially those in the rank and file cadre, is nothing to write home about, we applaud the new plan and ask the government to give all policemen and women a competitive salary that can compare with the best in the world. In doing this, the government should pay particular attention to those in the lower cadre of the force, the marginalised and the neglected, who constitute the bulk of the force.
With increasing insecurity and crimes, our police officers need commensurate salary that will enable them cope with the increasing hazards of the profession in recent times. Currently, a recruit in the force is reported to earn N10,115 a month; constable 11, N42,000; constable 1, N43,998; Corporal, N45,737; Sergeant, N50,534; Inspector 11/Cadet Inspector, N87,000, and an Inspector, N130,000. Also, a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police earns N30,000 monthly; an ASP 11, N139,171; ASP1, N153,989; and a DSP, N168,820.
Similarly, it is likely that such disparity is reflected in their allowances and other benefits, hence the new salary package must holistically address such imbalances. Besides salary, another issue that will engage the attention of the government is training and retraining of police officers as well as equipment.
For optimum performance, our police personnel need to be exposed to periodic local and foreign trainings, especially in areas where we don’t have the expertise such as countering terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and frequent attacks on the citizens by non-state actors. In terms of foreign training and adequate equipment of policemen, we have not done so well.
Our policemen, especially those in the lower cadre are among the worst equipped in the world. They are also among the worst paid. Hence, corruption is rife in the force through the mounting of illegal checkpoints and sundry tactics created to extort money from members of the public.
Available statistics show that the five countries where police personnel are highly paid in the world are Canada, Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. And in countries where policemen are well paid, there is enhanced security of lives and assets unlike what obtains in Nigeria.
Equally worrisome is the state of our police institutions where officers and men are trained. The recent report that the Nigeria Police Academy in Wudil, Kano State is poorly funded and equipped is deplorable. The state of other police colleges located in some parts of the country is not what they should be.
With our rising population put at over 200 million, the present police numerical strength put at 370,000 is highly inadequate. With many deaths recorded in the force due to growing insecurity, the number may be lower. The United Nations (UN) recommended police ratio is one police officer to 450 citizens. There is no way Nigeria can achieve the target ratio with the present strength of the force.
For effective security of the country, Nigeria needs about one million policemen that are well trained and equipped. That is why the government should stop playing politics with restructuring of the police force. As a federation, Nigeria needs at least four levels of policing; federal, state, local government and community as obtains in the US and other federations. The current centralised policing has not worked and cannot work. The time has come to restructure the police and decentralise it for effective policing of the country.