18th February, 2020
The President of the Senate,
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
National Assembly Complex,
Three Arms Zone,.
Federal Capital Territory,
Attention: Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan
Distinguished Senate President Sir,
AN OPEN LETTER ON THE UNPRECEDENTED SPATE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST INNOCENT CITIZENS BY CRIMINALS – HISTORY WILL BE KIND TO YOUR LEADERSHIP IF YOU INTERVENE GENUINELY AND SAVE OUR SOULS
Having searched the entire National Assembly and discovered that no other legislator marched your legislative experience and services, we take your statements on policy thrust of this administration and happenings on internal security as weighty statements that can’t be wished away. Since the return of our nascent democracy in 1999, you have been an active legislator in the National Assembly. From 1999 till 2007, you served at the Federal House of Representatives and from 2007 till date, you have been a high ranking Senator to the extent of serving as Majority Leader and today, you are the Chairman of the National Assembly. No legislator in Nigeria, dead or alive march your incredible record. We must confess our utmost respect for your exemplary feats.
That a fantastic personality with the above sterling credentials currently presides over the affairs of the Nigeria Senate at this period of tempestuous criminalities and the Senate cannot find a ground for groundbreaking intervention is highly incredulous. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right. Your clear-cut condemnations of the spate of violent attacks against innocent Nigerians and regular canvassing for a complete restructuring of the security architecture expresses your concerns for security of lives and properties, however, there is a particular area you have consistently hammered which leads to ambivalence, that is, your thought that funding is not the ultimate challenge of the Nigeria Police Force, this open letter is intended to bring you to terms with the indisputable impasse mitigating against the fight against criminalities and how you can salvage the impedance.
INTERNAL SECURITY AND FUNDING:
We are not wishing evil on anyone but when you take a critical look at the major victims of criminalities, they are the downtrodden. Crime has reached an endemic level simply for not minding germane issues in the cause of policy formulations and implementations. It’s not possible to apply same techniques and strategies consistently to issues and expect different results, but when the approach differ, different results can be achieved. The image of the Nigeria Police Force really matter at this moment than ever, it’s the major structure of internal security dealing majorly with crime prevention and control. This is not stated to underscore the positive and productive actions of other Security Agencies but to remind you of the fact that the Nigeria Police must be put to appropriate task on Internal Security.
You admitted recently in your concluding remarks on a Bill to Repeal the Police Act and enact the Nigeria Police Bill that we are in a very unusual time and stated the need to adjust the structure, that the problem is not just about making funds available, otherwise it will just be a sinking fund. Going by this your statement, you hold a strong believe that the government already appropriated the deserving fund for the operations of the Nigeria Police. At the same time, you aligned with need for retraining, proper training of new intakes and need for emergency recruitments, we commend your consciousness but wish to seriously call your attention to the areas at variance with your standpoints Sir.
1. According to the 2020 Appropriation Bill, out of 403 Billion Naira allocated to POLICE FORMATIONS AND COMMANDS, Total Personnel Cost is #370, 949,627,545, Total Overhead Cost is #18,250,565,304 and Total Capital is #14, 509,258,151. If you take a critical measure of the application of these funds, they look big as lump sum but you will discover that the appropriated fund didn’t provide for both the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nigeria Police Force.
2. For the avoidance of doubt, intelligence gathering, preventive crime measures and regular patrols are the elementary stages of policing, they are very essential and most fundamental in crime prevention and control techniques, to what tune did the appropriated fund for Police Formations and Commands catered for this? It’s not a puzzle Sir.
3. Items 22020801, 22020803 and 22021003 in the 2020 appropriated fund, Fuel & Lubricants – #589,463,926 was allocated for motor vehicle fuel cost and #114,623,906 allocated for Plant/Generator Fuel Cost while #142,534,801 was allocated for Publicity and Advertisements.
4. Let’s use the popular organizational structure of the Police Force without considering the Force Headquarters and Zonal Headquarters, we are left with 37 State Commands Headquarters, 111 Divisional Police Headquarters, 774 Police Stations and also ignore the Village Police Post, we have 922 Structures to fuel their operational vehicles, fuel their generators and fund their publicity and advertisements. This is the simplest way to explain the main funding essential for crime control.
5. At equal rate, each unit can only get #589,463,926/by 922/12 for motor vehicle fuel, #114,623,906/by922/by12 for generator fuel and #142,534,801/by922/by12 for publicity and advertisements. This means a maximum amount of #53,000 per month for each local governments for motor vehicles. This equally means #1,766 per day and this can only purchase 12litres of fuel daily for Motor Vehicles. Let’s add the cost of generator fuel which is #433 daily, it means total of 15litres of fuel can only be available daily per Local Government across the Country.
Honestly, we found this discovery appalling and begin to wonder if this happened unconsciously or deliberately to incapacitate the Police Force from prompt response to distress calls and constant patrols. Since your disposition that the current security architecture is inefficient and ineffective led our organisation to critically appraise the budget, this open letter becomes sacrosanct to call your attention to these revelations, which clearly indicate that the National Assembly need to help the masses by attending to this critical need of the Nigeria Police Force. We hold strong believe that the National Assembly under your leadership truly serves the interest of the people and we hope you will align your thought with the sensitive issues raised in this letter.
Honestly, there are more and more to call your attention to, regarding the flaws in the appropriated budget for Internal Security which unfortunately put the populace at risk and except emergency budget is raised by the National Assembly for the Nigeria Police Force to address the poor funding revealed above, we can only join the helpless masses to result to prayers for God’s Ultimate Protection.
We have confidence in your versatility with legislative interventions on critical issues and to that end, we will recommend four items for your considerations, hoping they will serve good templates for your legislative interventions.
1. There is a need for massive recruitments of Officer’s Cadre to the Nigeria Police Force. Massive to the tune of 50,000 personnel and above.
2. There is a strong need to provide proper funding of 24hrs High Way Patrol by the Nigeria Police Force, with preference for sufficient and realistic fueling and allowances.
3. Actions should be expedited on the full commencement of Community Policing Initiative of the Federal Government and funding should be budgeted for the Scheme.
4. It will be more appropriate for toll gates to return to the high ways like before, for strong security reasons, which we believe you will understand the essence.
Distinguished Senate President Sir, Societal Safety Network is a Civil Society Organisation committed to advocacy, education and complementing the drive for the safety and security of the populace. We wish to remind you the popular maxim that states that; anything what doing at all, is worth doing well. We also share the sentiments that the Personnel of the Nigeria Police Force should show high level of discipline and professionalism, to achieve this, the Ministry of Police Affairs has a very large responsibility, kindly check the appropriated fund for the Ministry of Police Affairs, you will discover that fund allocated is highly incommensurate with the expected duties. Kudos to the National Assembly, Federal Executive Council, Minister of Police Affairs and the Inspector General of Police for the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Initiative but the delay in the appointment of Board Chairman is another grey area requiring your urgent intervention.
You have shown serious concern on abating the spate of crimes over time, the time is now for you to walk and work the talk Sir. You have all it takes, to facilitate the required emergency funding to address the oversight in the budget of the Nigeria Police Force and it’s so unfortunate that this oversight is the most critical at this most critical period of unprecedented criminalities. REMAIN EXEMPLARY SIR.
. Agboola is the Executive Director of the Societal Safety Network.