In view of the numerous problems riddling the Nigerian Police Force and the negative perceptions attributed to the police in Nigeria, the new Director of Distance Learning Centre, University of Ibadan, Professor Oyesoji Aremu has exposited on the reasons why the country’s security agency is still lagging behind in its duties.
In an exclusive interview with CEOAfrica, the Professor of Counselling and Criminal Studies at the University of Ibadan revealed that his two decades of research and consultancy in policing in Nigeria has exposed him to the lingering challenges crippling the country’s police force.
Prof Aremu who will be delivering his inaugural lecture by 5pm today at the University of Ibadan on the topic: ‘The Trinity’ and the Missing Mission revealed that his lecture is an exposition on how the Nigerian Police have derailed from their primary function of providing security; how the disconnection of the police from the public has created a gap in effective policing as well as recommended solutions on how to restore the lost glory of the Nigerian police.
While noting that the topic of his inaugural lecture was inspired by the desire to see better and effective policing in Nigeria, Prof Aremu stated that the police force have for a long time, being operating on a misplaced mission which gave rise to the concept of ‘missing mission’ in his lecture topic.
According to him, every individual or organisation has a mission to accomplish but the police, saddled with the task of providing security in the country, seem to have lost that mission, which has accounted for several policing shortcomings like; extrajudicial killings, bribery and corruption, ineffectiveness in tackling security issues, among others.
Prof Aremu explained that the reason for these shortcomings can be traced back to the foundation of how the police in Nigeria evolved. He said “People who joined the police force got it wrong from the beginning. They entertained corruption and it simply grew to become a custom within the Force which resulted in the public attaching wrong behaviour to them. So, we need to address the foundation.”
Explaining further, Prof Aremu noted that another challenge of the police is the ‘Bad Apple Syndrome’ which according him is a theory propounded by Morris Punch. The Prof stated that the Nigerian Police is crippled by the syndrome where even the good police officers imbibe the existing negative norms of the force.
He said “The case of the Nigerian Police is that of bad apples spoiling the good ones. When a good officer joins the force, it is only a matter of time for the officer to imbibe the negative norms practiced in the force.”
Sharing the experience of his interaction with an Indian Police officer that was attached to him when he travelled to the country for a conference, Prof Aremu noted that at the end of his stay in India, when he tried to compensate the police officer for his protection by giving him his unused rupees, the officer politely refused much to his consternation and he tried to imagine if a Nigerian Police officer would have reacted the same way.
“This is not to say the Indian Police is better than the Nigerian Police” Prof Aremu said, “This is not to say the there is no corruption in the Indian Police, but the rules and norms implemented in the force was evident. Besides, you cannot dissociate the police from the society.
While explaining that the police are the product of their immediate environment, Prof Aremu stated that in his lecture, he enunciated the interrelationship between the Polity, the Police and the Public – the ‘Three Ps’ which gave rise to the concept of ‘Trinity’ in his topic.
Prof Aremu explained that he propounded the theory of the three Ps to show how a synergy of the Polity, the Police and the Public will result in a functional and effective security agency in Nigeria.
While assessing the effectiveness of the Nigerian Police, the Prof said “I won’t say the police have failed. If I were to rate the effectiveness of the Police on the scale of 1 to10, I would rate them 4 out of 10. This is because they are not impacting positively on the society as much as expected but there is still room for improvement.”
Proffering solutions to the debilitating problems in the Nigerian Police Force, the Professor of Counselling and Criminal Studies noted that in his inaugural lecture, he recommended that the Nigerian Police should be deregulated to ensure effective policing. “Multi-level policing should be entrenched in Nigeria. We should have police at the federal, state, local and institutional levels, rather than the one-system police we currently have,” he said.
Noting that hierarchy is a challenge in Nigerian Policing, the Prof proposed that tenure of Inspector Generals of Police should be increased to five or six years, rather than change IGs every two years. He said “No effective policy can be implemented in two years. Increasing the tenures of IGs to five of six years will allow them make and implement policies that will effect lasting change in the country’s police force.”
The Prof further recommended that the government should address the short fall of police personnel, noting the Nigeria falls below the United States standard of ‘one police to 100 people’. He revealed that by estimation, Nigerian police is at a ratio of ‘one to 500 people’ given our population, which means that Nigeria is currently under policed.
Prof Aremu, who decried how the country fails to implement recommendations made in academic researches concerning issues limiting the development of the nation, concluded by advising the presidency to put measures in place to ensure that there is a synchronisation between the academia and the government so that the country can benefit from the solutions provided by researchers, rather than let the researches rot away in school libraries.