LAST week, the leadership of the Nigeria Police called on the Federal Government to allocate the annual sum of N1.13 trillion from the Federation Account to the force in order to enable it to provide adequate security in the country. Speaking during a one-day public hearing on a bill seeking to establish thepolice Development Fund, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, informed the Senate Committee on Police Affairs that, based on its yearly budgetary allocation, the point could not be disputed that the force was being grossly underfunded. This poor funding, he said, had resulted in the force’s inability to execute its fundamental duties of ensuring security of lives and property and maintaining law and order across the country.
Breaking down the overhead costs of the Force, the IGP disclosed that N19.9 billion was required annually to fuel vehicles and motorcycles belonging to the force, with another N14.58 billion needed for providing kits for its personnel. In his own address on the occasion, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim, said that the money which thepolice were demanding could be generated by levying taxes on the net profit of companies operating businesses in the country. The senator suggested, quite unrealistically, that the Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods bought by Nigerians which is currently pegged at five per cent be raised to 10 per cent to enable the government realise about N25 billion annually for thepolice. The Federal Government, he added, should also impose and increase VAT on petroleum products and telecommunication operations, which he said would yield about N51.76 billion.
That the Nigeria Police is underfunded is indeed not in doubt. As noted by the IGP in an address entitled ‘Tackling the Nigerian Police Funding Challenges,’ over time, the regular source of funding for thepolice through budgetary allocation has failed to address the financial needs of the force. Idris drew attention to the 2008 M. D. Yusufu Reform Committee report whose recommendations included an estimate of N2.8 trillion to effectively reform and transform the Nigeria Police for a period of five years, a sum which translates to N560 billion annually. Conversely, according to Idris, only N16.1 billion was allocated to thepolice in 2016 for capital development, out of which N10 billion was released.
It is easy to surmise that going by the present low budgetary allocation, the Nigeria Police cannot achieve its goals in the areas of communication and information technology infrastructure, purchase of operational vehicles, crafts and other facilities and provision of the full complement of arms and ammunition, riot control equipment, protective gears, armoury and forensic technology and scientific aids for investigation. Nigerians would certainly agree with the IGP that thepolice could do with some upgrade in its operational and administrative logistics, community policing projects and public relations, clothing and accoutrement and construction, rehabilitation and modernisation of infrastructure for capacity building. Police stations and barracks across the country are in need of rehabilitation, while the welfare of police personnel needs to be prioritised. Indeed, like Idris, previous IGPs had, at various times, expressed worries over the financial handicaps hampering the force’s activities. So have leaders from different strata of the society.
If the Nigeria Police is to serve and protect with integrity, then it must be properly and adequately funded. If it is indeed true that out of its N31.6 billion allocation in the 2017 budget, only N8 billion has so far been released to the Nigeria Police, then it can be said that the nation is not yet ready for effective policing. The Federal Government must ensure that budget estimates are not just official statistics. Failure to implement the Appropriation Bill duly approved by the parliament smacks of a lack of integrity, and the situation needs to be urgently addressed. Indeed, a significant portion of the burden ofpolice funding has often been borne by the state governors. The governors provide operational vehicles and other equipment and logistic support to thepolice commands in their various states. However, in a clear exemplification of constitutional and institutional aberrations, they exercise little or no authority over thepolice that they so readily fund. This has to stop.
We call on the Federal Government to rise up to the task of funding the Nigeria Police. It is unfair to pillory thepolice for inefficiency while at the same time refusing to fund it properly. However, we must enter a caveat here: a centrally runpolice, no matter how well funded, cannot work in a federal state. There must be municipal, state and federal police commands working in harmony if Nigeria desires to have a police that it can be proud of. It is in this regard that, while endorsing the call by IGP Idris for thepolice to be properly funded, we urge the government to study the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference and implement them in the overall national interest. The problems of thepolice in Nigeria transcend funding; they include corruption, systemic inefficiencies and poor orientation. Failure to recognise that fact can only spell doom for the country.