Last week, the Federal Government approved an enhanced salary and allowance structure for the men and women of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). According to President Muhammadu Buhari, the gesture would go a long way to boost the performance index of the personnel of the force and strengthen Nigeria’s internal security. His administration, he said, would continue to give attention to the welfare and operational needs of the force with a view to restoring its lost primacy in the country’s internal security framework.
Speaking during a “thank you” visit by members of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the leadership of the NPF at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the president lamented the inability of the police to perform their constitutional role as the frontline force in the prevention of crimes, which he said had led to military involvement in the maintenance of law and order in the country. He said: “From Taraba to Sokoto, to the South-South, people don’t feel secure until they see the military. I am pleased to make the increase in salaries and allowances in the hope that it will increase the performance index of the police and strengthen Nigeria’s internal security system.”
Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong with rolling out an enhanced pay package for the rank and file of the Nigeria Police. The position has long been maintained by patriotic Nigerians that the force requires better working conditions in order to actualise its constitutional mandate. There is no doubt that, taken together with the provision of requisite equipment and facilities, regular promotion and the training and retraining of police personnel, an enhanced pay package would place the rank and file of the force in prime position to do the tasks assigned to them by the laws of the land. Unfortunately, however, the Federal Government’s latest move is reflective of the warped system operative in the country which negates the basic principles of life in a modern state and circumscribes the enthronement of criticality and logic in governance.
In a modern society, there are institutions and ingredients in the economy that dictate how and when to adjust salaries and wages irrespective of the whims and caprices of politicians. Unfortunately, such enablers of modern statehood are either lacking or ineffectual in the Nigerian society. Pray, how did the government arrive at the new police pay package? What factors were considered and how was a conclusion arrived at? How can the point be validly made that the new package reflects the needs of the rank and file of the police force? Is it for instance based on the proposed new minimum wage on which the government has been foot-dragging and flip-flopping? And after the current package, what next? What structures are in place for adjustment when the need arises?
The need for institutionalised governance becomes even more critical when the fact is considered that the Federal Government’s latest move is bound to cause disaffection within the country’s security architecture. The police have a new pay package, but when are the other paramilitary agencies like the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) and others going to have their own enhanced pay packages? And when are the armed forces going to enjoy their own enhanced pay packages? Or are they undeserving of a pay increase?
Surely, the government is not suggesting that the officers and men of the Nigeria Police are a special breed. Precisely what have the police done that other agencies have not done to deserve a raise? No sane society runs like the Nigerian society currently does. A visionary and reflective administration would surely not have taken an action that amounts to creating bad blood among the security agencies. Had the government taken its decision following research and indicated that it was going to roll out a new pay regime for the security agencies beginning with the police, it would have been difficult to fault its action. Sadly, though, the government behaved as if it was unaware of its constitutional responsibilities and announced a new pay package for the police without any mention of the other security agencies. No country governed in this whimsical, unreflective and cavalier fashion can ever progress.
Speaking on the preparations for the 2019 general election, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, enthused: “We are ready. We have gone round the country, we have conducted several by-elections, which obviously prepared us to face the main challenge next year. I am assuring all Nigerians that we are going to do our best next year.” But are the other agencies similarly excited? Will they—indeed, can they—give their best in the tempestuous climate that the government has wittingly or unwittingly created? We think not. It is time governance in the country began to benefit from logic.