Sunday , August 18 2019
Breaking News
Home / Opinion / Peace Corps, State Police and Matters Arising

Peace Corps, State Police and Matters Arising

By Rogers Edor Ochela
Recently, the nation’s media was awash with screaming headlines of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that a 3-man panel be set up to review the report of Mr. Tony Ojukwu’s Committee on Police Reforms with special emphasis on the desirability or otherwise of State Police.
Trust Nigerians! Since then, political pundits and pseudo-analysts seemed to have caught the bug with some of them arguing either in favour or against the idea of creating state police. Recall that the idea behind the creation of state police was mooted following the unacceptably rising level of insecurity in Nigeria in recent times and its attendant spate of horrendous killings of innocent Nigerians.
.
.
Dear readers, permit me to state from the onset that the rising incidence of crime and criminality in Nigeria is fuelled essentially by the burgeoning level of youth employment in the polity. And if nothing is done to curb the unacceptably high level of youth unemployment, no amount of security measure(s) put in place by the government, including creation of state police, can rein in the rampaging monster of criminality that is running riot in Nigeria.
Agreed, this call for the creation of state police may have been reinforced by the obviously partisan nature of the Federal Police headquartered in Abuja, which some of its critics said has lost its professionalism on the altar of political opportunism to the extent that the Force is having perceptible operational deficiencies in dealing with crime and emerging security challenges.
But as desirable as the call for the creation of state police may appear to be, the truth is that whether it is a federal or state police, the primary responsibilities remain the same, which are to prevent crime, uphold the laws, detect and investigate crime. Security experts agree that the only fundamental usefulness of state police is that in terms of emergency security situation, it could easily be deployed by the governors without necessarily having to wait for orders from far away Abuja.
.
.
Though, State Police functions effectively in America, the same cannot be said of Nigeria with every degree of certainty, because the peculiarities are quite different. The history of state policing within the Nigerian experiment has been unenviable. The first republic experience with all the abuse to which politicians deployed them to haunt down political opponents was abhorrent. As a matter of fact, the practice of using policemen as bodyguards started then.
While the proponents of the State Police in Nigeria are seeking for absolute powers for the body, the America police model does not give absolute policing powers to the state, because there are still the federal police to deal with federal laws involving high-profile crimes, treason and drugs offences.
.
.
Back home in Nigeria, security experts and other relevant stakeholders are on the same page in their opinion that in view of the dictatorial tendencies of governors in Nigeria, these imperial majesties called governors are likely to misuse or hijack it to serve selfish political motives like hunting down perceived political enemies, the same offence they are currently accusing the Federal Government of.
Similarly, such experts have expressed valid fears about the possibility of state police clashing with its federal counterpart while discharging their functions at critical moments. In addition, with the well-known fiscal irresponsibility of several state governors amidst lean resources to the extent that several of these states are unable to pay their workers salaries for several months running, adding the burden of state police will be suicidal, something equivalent to passing a death sentence on the states.
.
.
It is no longer contestable that crime rate in the various communities is high and under-reported. In some communities, there is no police presence at all.
And this is where Peace Corps of Nigeria comes in. With its adequate presence in all the 36 States of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, the Corps whose core mandate is: To Develop, Empower, and Provide gainful employment to the Youth in order to facilitate Peace, Community Services, Volunteerism, Nation Building, Neighborhood Watch, Maintenance of Discipline in all levels of Educational Institutions in Nigeria and other related matters, has all it takes to render effective assistance in crime prevention efforts.
It must be noted for the sake of emphasis that my strong aversion for state police does not mean an endorsement of the federal Police. Far from it! The argument that I am actually canvassing here is that instead of creating state police at this time when the finances of the states are lean, Peace Corps of Nigeria, PCN, which is already in existence can fill in the gap. This has brought to the fore the urgent need for Mr. President to expeditiously assent to the Nigerian Peace Corps (Establishment) Bill. After all, officers and men of the Corps, who are well trained and highly disciplined, have demonstrated their capability in handling all official responsibilities with admirable intrepidity. And above all, their relationship with the public so far has been charming and wonderful.
.
.
At this point, even at the risk of sounding too patronizing, it is important to orchestrate that the official takeover of the Peace Corps of Nigeria by the Federal Government by way of assenting to the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill will be tantamount to removing a powerful arrow from the quivers of unemployment that has made a mincemeat of the purchasing powers of the youths. And because officers and men of the Peace Corps are quite young, vibrant, dynamic; highly resourceful and have displayed commendable bravery nay heroism in discharging their duties so far, such a coterie of committed and dedicated personnel will prove quite useful in complimenting the services of other security agencies in the maintenance of law and order in the country, if properly equipped and motivated.
.
.
By its training and orientation, the Corps is capable of providing some form of community policing, which majority of Nigerians have been clamouring for, while also promoting peace and stability in the country. This is an era of alternative dispute resolution, which explains why assenting to the Nigerian Peace Corps (NPC) Bill remains an inevitable necessity!
The NPC Bill, when given effect by Mr. President will however enhance the dignity of the Nigerian Youths as it will adequately engage them productively and redirect their untapped potentials towards Nation-building rather than destructive tendencies.
So, instead of embarking on such a seemingly unprofitable nay wasteful venture of creating state police that flies in the face of economic wisdom, it will make more economic sense to strengthen existing security agencies like the Armed Forces, Police and Civil Defence in terms of logistics, equipment etc, and the Nigerian Peace Corps for volunteering and emergency purposes.
It is a well-known fact that the recruitment of personnel for the Peace Corps is from virtually all communities in Nigeria and majority of the deployment is to the same communities. Therefore, it provides a form of community policing, which majority of Nigerians have been clamouring for, while also promoting peace and stability in the country. With the ubiquitous presence of its personnel in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria, the Corps could function optimally in the area of information gathering and dissemination.
.
.
Furthermore, at this time when all hands are expected to be on deck to ensure prevalence of peace in Nigeria, the government should be seen to be at the vanguard of those promoting peace and civility, as it is more rewarding and less expensive to prevent anarchy and crises than to fight back anytime it erupts.
With staff strength of one hundred and fifty thousand Regular Officers and over 2million Volunteers and a network of branches spread across the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, Peace Corps is strategically positioned to execute its core mandate and even more. Take it or leave it, the establishment of State Police will only serve as another avoidable drain pipe on the dwindling resources of the federating states. Millions of Nigerian youths are waiting expectantly for Mr. President to assent to this all-important Bill as part of his Democracy Day gift to them.
.
.
Ochela, the media consultant to Peace Corps of Nigeria is reachable via edorochela@yahoo.co.nz (090-94411666).

Comments

comments

Check Also

When Your Enemies Fight, Don’t Pray for Peace.

By Owei Lakemfa. Yemen was the most developed part of  the Arab  region about 630 …

BAYELSA 2019: Sylva Holds The Ace In APC

As the race to Creek Haven, the Bayelsa state seat of power, gathers momentum ahead …

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com