I see it at airports, homes, roads and everywhere: one citizen retaining a truck load of policemen to guard him or protect a trip of less than 10 minutes. It is always painful watching the elite of Nigerian Police guarding private and unauthorized citizens. It is simple: have few tens of thousands and the DPO can close the barracks and deploy all the officers to you. The demand is huge, and for this to be happening, it means the police officers do great jobs.
Yes, our police guys are professionals when they are compensated and motivated. And even the Ogas know that. So, in a country of 180 million (take your number) people, with 400,000 police officers, about 40,000 of the citizens control 38% of the whole force. (The officers are sent in pairs, in some cases in truckloads. Some could go with two Hilux vans for one man. I expect the unique citizens to be 40,000). The implication is that the remaining 250k officers are now to police “180 million-40k people”. In other words, 38% of the police force guard 0.022% of the population
The Police Service Commission, PSC, said that more than 150,000 police officers were attached to VIP’s and unauthorised persons in the country. Nigeria currently has about 400,000 police officers.
“We cannot afford to have more than half of the population of the Police in private hands,” Chairman of the commission, Mike Okiro.
Nigeria is a puzzle indeed. That this happens is a shame: private citizens colonizing services we all pay for, converting the Police into their private properties. But why you may want to be hard on the private citizens, the fact remains that if they pay taxes, government should provide security. But where government is not there, you may not necessarily blame them for going for the best possible security they could afford.
So, at the end, you take this blame to successive governments which have refused to boost police capabilities on fighting crime [to reduce the need of this personalized police business] or simply outlaw it [let the rich buy their security from the private sector]. But I tell you – this commercial police force is not going anywhere. Yet, it needs to stop, if we believe in the equality of the Nigerian people.
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