Friday, May 21, 2021
The Nigeria Police Force slogan “Police are your friends” could have won the award for the most ironic statement if filed for contest at the Guinness Book of Record.
For several decades, this statement was nothing more than an insult on the collective intelligence of the Nigerian people. Nigerian citizens have come to hate their police whose attitude do not suggest they have any different emotion towards them.
Truth however is, it is equally ironic that Nigerians consider the “Police are your friends” slogan ironic. Corruption-wise, Nigerians are no different from their police. Civilians use their official resources like computers, Purchase Orders, pens - whilst the police also use their official resources like uniforms and riffles - to perpetrate their corrupt acts.
The fundamental truth is that both parties are victims of the same system. The problem of poverty and survival mentality is common to both civilians and uniform men. And this problem takes its root from the deliberate and strategic decisions of Nigerian leaders over the years to keep the people at the dungeon of dependence - despite the citizen’s enormous riches.
Civilians and police dislike for one another is not fundamentally a result of police exploitation; rather, it is a script both the police and the citizens unknowingly play out.
In 2012, Nigerian Forces Support Group (NFSP,) an NGO, was established to encourage civic cooperation. The NGO focuses on catering for the needs of Nigerian security agencies, especially the police, whom it believes, though not so efficient, has not been appreciated enough.
According to the president of NFSG, Mrs Irene Ikenna, “What we fail to understand is that these police officers are equally victims as much as we are. Their children suffer hunger, get sent out of school for non-payment of tuition as any other in our society. With just one corrupt dealing in someone’s office, he makes N1million. And such a person still thinks he has the moral justification to condemn a corrupt policeman who collects N20 on the road. He forgets that that N1million will be paid for by someone in the social class of that policeman.
We expect so much from them without realizing they have already given us so much by putting their lives on the line for us. While you and I are sleeping, somebody is on the road patrolling. Without him, we cannot sleep with our two eyes closed. I think we need to empathize more than criticize them. We are all victims of this circumstance.
On what her NGO is doing to help, she said, “Our focus is to bridge that gap between civilians and the police, to promote civic cooperation. We focus mainly on food provision and paying school fees for families of uniform men - especially the police.
“Our research revealed that 80% of policemen’s children could not attain the educational level they wished particularly because their parents could not afford the financial demands. So, we have established 100 extramural institutes (i.e. coaching schools) across 40 police barracks in the South West and part of North West. We have given about 600 scholarships; and 222 of the beneficiaries are already graduates. Since inception, we have given food worth over N15million to policemen across the nation.
So far, our efforts seem like drops in the ocean; but little drops of water make the ocean. I wish to encourage Nigerians to also support the police. When we do, we are investing in the future of Nigeria. We cannot wish the police away; but we can support its reform.”
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