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Police Reform: Thank God President Buhari doesn’t listen

Police Reform: Thank God President Buhari doesn’t listen
December 13
09:00 2017
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This week, there has been a lot of interesting arguments about the English Premier League; some posit that Manchester City won the premier league on Sunday, after defeating Manchester United to open an 11-point gap at the top of the league table. Others say, “come on, there are still 22 matches to go to the end of the season, anything can happen”.

Over the same week, political debates have been going back and forth over the continued presence of Muhammadu Buhari as the president of Nigeria, considering the “restore to regain” plan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the calculated antics of Atiku Abubakar — who is winning hearts by the day on social media. But like the football debate, many say its too early to call.

To better understand the issues framing the politics of 2019; I revisited the campaign promises of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which got President Muhammadu Buhari into power in 2015. You should not be tempted to do the same; you will wonder what we have been doing since 2015.

Let me brief you: APC promised 10 percent economic growth annually; create additional middle-class of at least two million new home owners in our first year in government and one million annually thereafter; allocate 15 percent of the budget to education; implement a National Gender Policy, including 35% of appointive positions for women — you know the list is virtually endless.

BUHARI PROMISED TO REFORM THE POLICE, BUT HOW WELL?

The most interesting part of the campaign promises as articulated by Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the APC pre-2015 think-tank and the president himself was the promise to reform the Nigerian Police Force.

According to the APC policy document or manifesto on community, the team promised to “set and revise when needed the boundaries of operations of the Federal, State and Local Govt. policing units through new Criminal Justice Legislation to replace the existing Criminal Code, Penal Code and Police Act”.

The party also promised to “establish a well-trained, adequately equipped and goal driven serious crime squad to combat insurgencies, kidnapping, armed robbery, ethnoreligious and communal clashes”. Emphasis on well-trained and adequately equipped.

But how much has Buhari delivered on the police reform promised? Let us evaluate this together.

In November, the International Police Science Association and the Institute for Economics and Peace, released its 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI), which ranked the Nigerian police as the worst in the world.

According to the index, “there are 219 police officers for every 100,000 Nigerians, well below both the Index median of 300, and the sub-Saharan Africa region average of 268”. Perhaps one of the issues projected by the APC, when the party promised recruitment of 100,000 fresh police officers — a process that is still ongoing.

The index also suggests that 19 percent of Nigerians have been assaulted and mugged, with the police unable to do anything to save them from these dangerous acts.

In addition to this, the report highlighted that “81 percent of Nigerian respondents to the Global Corruption Barometer admitted to paying a bribe to a police officer in the last year”. To crown it all, the report suggests that the police have been a tool for political terror in Nigeria since 1993 till date.

After such a damning report, Jimoh Moshood, a spokesman of the force, said the Nigerian Police are the best in Africa. End of story. Any immediate plans by the government of the day to look into issues raised? Your guess is as good as mine.

Peradventure the government may argue that the report is one of these “international labelling” of Nigeria as bad, can the same be said of the report from the state-run National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)?

In its National Corruption Report released in August, NBS said almost half (46.4 per cent) of all adult Nigerians who had direct contact with a police officer one year before the survey were said to have paid a bribe.

As expected, the police said the report was misleading, and regarded the same “as a clear demonstration of mischief and calculated attempt to promote campaign of calumny against police officers”. And the presidency on the other hand looks the other way. The rot continues.

THANK GOD BUHARI DOESN’T LISTEN

While many of us are worried by the seemingly calculated avoidance of certain security and political issues in the life of this government, the opposition is glad that the president and his team are not listening as much as they should be. For them, every core national issue ignored by this government, is a reason to thank God.

They know that the more Buhari and his team turn deaf ears to the yearnings of Nigerians, the better their (PDP’s) chances of taking power in 2019.

So for them, it is “thank God Buhari does not listen; thank God he is not listening to those who are calling for proper prosecution of indicted Ayo Oke and Babachir Lawal. Thank God the president has done nothing about the fracture in in the Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS)”.

Ultimately, there is also reasons to thank God that the president who promised police reforms, when  seeking power, is the one who has decided not to listen to the cry of over millions of Nigerians — on and off social media — who are calling for #EndSARS.

Personally, I pray the president listens and act on national issues, whether political or not, but like my kinsmen will say “the dog destined to get lost, will not hear the warnings of its owner”. If Buhari does not listen and respond appropriately to the yearnings of Nigerians to act, 2019 may just be a mirage for him.

Enough said.

Reach Tijani @OluwamayowaTJ across major social media platforms.

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