Nigeria: Police On Rampage Over Pay
By Akanimo Sampson,
SOME men of the Nigeria Police on Monday morning took to the streets in Ondo town of Ondo State, Western Nigeria, to protest non-payment of their last Saturday governorship election allowance. They are usually owed allowances, and in most cases, short paid by their superiors.
The police protest in Ondo is however, coming more than eight years after a similar protest took place in London, the metropolitan capital of the United Kingdom. About 22,500 police officers marched in central London in a protest over pay.
Police in January 2008, were angry that a 2.5% pay rise was only backdated to December 1, for UK officers except for those in Scotland. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would have liked to pay more but it was part of the “fight against inflation”.
In Ondo, eye-witnesses say the policemen trooped out to Fagun Street, chanting various war songs to kick against the way they were treated after the governorship election in which the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari’s party won..
The development caused traffic logjam in the area. Efforts by our linkman on the ground to speak with the protesting police officers were unsuccessful. They were even said to be venting their anger on reporters who were trying to speak with them.
Their ordeal tends to be linked with their historical evolution, and what happens after the abortion of civil rule in the country.
The British established the first police force in what is known today as Nigeria, in 1861. It was essentially a 100-man consular protection force based in Lagos, which later became known as the “Hausa Force,” so-named after the ethnicity of the men recruited into the unit.
A national police was however, put in place when the British merged Lagos Colony with the Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1913, and named the new colony Nigeria. The Northern and Southern regional police forces were later merged, in 1930, to form the colony’s first national police, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
The problem of the police is largely due to a series of military coups and successive military dictatorships in the country. As at October 1, 1960, their strength stood at about 12,000, larger than the military. They were perceived by military leaders as a threat.
As a result, they were chronically underfunded and marginalised during the years of military dictatorship. By 1979, when the General Olusegun Obasanjo regime was bracing to hand over to civil rule, that regime embarked on a massive police recruitment campaign while discarding recruitment and training standards.
When the Second Republic President Shehu Shagari took over, the NPF had grown to “80,000 ill-trained, ill-motivated and ill-equipped men.” The Shagari administration was however, short-circuited by a coup in 1983 that resulted in an additional 16 years of military rule.