The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, on Tuesday, hinted of a major crisis in the Force if the Federal Government did not reverse its decision to cut the personnel budget for officers and men in the 2014 budget.
Abubakar had appeared before the House Committee on Police Affairs to defend the budget of the police, but the session turned into lamentation over the challenging work conditions of policemen in the country.
Chairman of the committee, Mr. Usman Kurmo, confirmed the IG’s worries when he said the salary budget cut was about N13bn.
“As a committee, we have done a calculation on what the IG is saying; the money is about N13bn.
“That is the much that was reduced in the personnel cost of the police force in the budget,” he stated.
Kurmo said as of 2013, the personnel cost of the police was N293.5bn, but added that it went down to N279bn in the 2014 budget.
He noted that the slash was surprising since there were no large-scale retrenchment or retirement by the police in the last one year that could lead to a reduction of N13bn from their salary budget.
The IG appealed to the committee to look into the matter urgently by resolving it before it would begin to affect the salaries and allowances of men and officers of the force.
Abubakar said, “Mr. Chairman, this is a serious shortfall. Very soon, it means that we will not be able to pay salaries.
“I urge the committee to address this in order to avoid a likely crisis; this has to do with the welfare of our personnel.”
Responding, Kurmo said he had already met with the matter with the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu, who assured him that the issue would be sorted out.
He said Okogu had explained that the office started an integrated salary payment system across all agencies since 2013, resulting in cuts for many of them.
The DG was said to have stated that his office found out that “what is provided for the police will be enough for the personnel cost.”
However, he was said to have added that in the event of a shortfall, the gap would be filled with money drawn from Service Wide vote.
Speaking on funding for police operations generally, the IG told the lawmakers that the overheads cost had been dropping since 2009.
Giving a year by year report, he said the overhead cost was N10.8bn in 2009; N15.6bn in 2010; N5.5bn in 2011; N8.1bn in 2012; N7.6bn in 2013 and N6bn in 2014.
Abubakar expressed concern that at a time the police were over-stretched by insecurity, government was consistently underfunding their operations.
For example, he said the N6bn voted for personnel cost could not cover the cost of fuelling the 10,232 police vehicles scattered all over the country
The committee resolved that one way of addressing the funding problem of the police was to prioritise the expenditure of the force so that more money could be moved to areas of importance.
“If we are really serious about transforming this country, then we must first transform the security agencies,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Mr Ekpo Nta, disclosed that the commission arrested a junior member of staff of the National Pension Commission with 50 bank accounts.
He told the House Committee on Anti-Corruption, National Ethics and Values that the officer operated the accounts with 50 different names and signatures.