The acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, on Wednesday, has told the leadership of the House of Representatives that the Nigeria Police Force lacks adequate resources to face the emerging security challenges in the country.
Baba urged the House to create a special fund for police operations which will allow the security outfit to respond to emergency needs.
During the meeting, Gbajabiamila told the IGP the various reasons why Nigerians don’t respect police officers on the street, stating that beyond allocating more funds and recruiting more personnel, men of the Nigeria Police Force need a psychological approach to their duties.
Baba was received by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, at his office in Abuja, in company with the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu; Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu; Chairman, House Committee on Police Affairs, Usman Kumo; and Chairman, Committee on House Services, Wale Raji.
The acting IGP was accompanied by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Baba Tijjani; Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Force Intelligence Bureau); and Force Public Relations Officer, Commissioner Frank MBA, among others.
Baba said, “In the area of funding, we are requiring and requesting your assistance to look more into our predicament. We are glaringly underfunded and there is nothing we can do without funds. I agree that you may not get what you want even in your house completely; you have to manage. We are managing what we have.
“One of the most essential things that I want to plead for the House of Representatives to look into is the area of funds for operations. Sincerely speaking, day in day out, besides what we have as allocation, we have problems coming up year in year out and we don’t have any account we can go to, to dip our hand in and do a quick deployment in terms of mitigating or proactively stopping what is to come.
“Normally, operations should have a fund that you can quickly deploy men and material in areas, whether it is a natural crisis or it is a man-made crisis. The police don’t have that at all. We always rely on our budgetary allocation which is not enough.”
Earlier, Baba hailed the House for the timely passage of the Police Act (Amendment) Bill 2020 “unlike when bills have stayed in this House for years without seeing the light of the day.”
He said, “The 2020 Police Act is going to modernise the police; it is going to provide a platform such that the police will be people’s police and it is also going to provide the police with the desired Acts and laws that will enable their operations to be in tandem with the modern days.
“We have been yearning to see that the operations of the police are guided and directed by law and this law has been for years not touched, until this Assembly came on board and it was passed within the quickest possible means.”
Baba added, “Like Oliver Twist, we will still ask for more because there are still other laws that will help us in our operations and performance. Two of them are pending: the Police Service Commission Bill and the National Institute of Police Studies Bill. These are two bills that are also germane and they will assist us in our day to day running of the Nigeria Police Force.
“We know that the Nigeria Police is an institution that is nearest to the government and to people. We are everywhere to ensure that law and order are maintained; to ensure that all that the House of Representatives and the Senate have done are actually enforced by us. That does not mean that we are the only agency that is in charge or that is tasked to provide security and safety to Nigerians.
“But as the lead agency, we want to perform better than what we are doing. And with your cooperation and assistance, definitely, the police will work more and they will do more to ensure that the confidence of the people is restored and people will also know that they have a law enforcement agency or institution that is going to perform its duties perfectly well.”
Responding, Gbajabiamila stated that Nigeria urgently needs to work on the dignity and well-being of men of the NPF, a major factor that will make its personnel succeed in the core mandate of preventing and fighting crime.
The Speaker noted that the appearance of a policeman in a community, being the face of the law, must first command respect for him to effectively enforce the law. He also told the IGP that unlike the case in some countries, the Nigerian policeman does not have adequate equipment to work and was not well-catered for.
He said, “We need to know that police work has a lot to do with psychology. Why are policemen looking tattered on the streets? They wear dirty, torn uniforms and you see them in rubber slippers. So, people don’t even respect them or feel intimidated by their presence when they need to enforce the law.
“In other countries, the sight of a policeman and the gadgets he carries alone prevent crime from happening. There is immediate recognition from the appearance of a policeman.”
Gbajabiamila assured the IGP that the House was prepared to collaborate with the force to identify its areas of need and address them through improved funding, recruitment and training. He, however, asked the IGP to do a “needs assessment” and submit a comprehensive report to the House through its Committee on Police Affairs for necessary action.
The speaker promised that the requests from the needs assessment report could either be accommodated in the 2021 supplementary budget being expected by the National Assembly or a separate window could be created to capture the funding challenges of the police.
Gbabiamila added that the House was concerned about the rising insecurity in the country and had responded to it by setting up a special committee to interface with the executive arm with a view to addressing the situation.
Gbajabiamila told the IGP that the committee would start sitting within the next few days.
However, the speaker commended the police for being able to perform their duties so far, in spite of “the difficult circumstances” that they have had to operate in all these years