After a stopover at the Nigeria Police College in Ikeja following an expository documentary by the Channels Television, there have been several revelations on the state of Nigeria Police Colleges. But these questions arise regarding what comes next after the visit; will these serve as a lesson to the Nigerian government and those handling public institutions such as this?
There is need for Nigerians to change their attitudes as a nation on the way things are done and take issues more seriously in this country. Perhaps it is now obvious to say that every society deserves the type of leadership it gets.
So the saying that ‘what you sow is what you reap’ may afterall be true in this case, as the same with another saying which says ‘the measure you give is the measure you receive.’
The discovery of the mindboggling decay in hovels that go for dormitories and living quarters of police recruits, as much as we saw, puzzled Nigerians. We were shown what went for hostels, looking not only bare and unkempt, but with many of the iron beds without springs and mattresses. The hostels, which are nothing more than concentration camps, were littered with broken plates, bottles and scraps of bread and with swarms of rats and cockroaches darting all over the place.
However, reports and investigations after Mr. President’s visit did open up that from 2009 to 2012, the police colleges got annual subvention of N510million for the maintenance of infrastructure and welfare of recruits. The 2013 budgetary allocation also gave the police a whopping N311 billion, yet it was discovered that a police trainee is fed on less than N200 per day.
With these explanations, one will wonder how a country will expect to get well rounded and dedicated police force it could be proud of. Sadly, the rot does not end at the colleges, as they have become part of an enduring landscape in police barracks all over the country. Walk into any of them and you will be hard pressed to distinguish it from a typical Somali refugee camp. Many of the barracks are littered with jerry-built houses that are not only cramped and dilapidated, but they also lack running water, toilets, while the entire areas have been overrun by noxious flowing sewage.
There, the children have pigs, goats and chickens as companions, while teenagers and other adults are engrossed in hard drugs and illicit sex. Incidentally, many of them set their dreams on joining the force when they grow up. This is because they have not known any other world beyond that in which their unlucky parents have been condemned to live. Has anyone wondered why graduates of these police colleges seem to be waging war on the citizens and society?
The question we ask ourselves is this, why is it that after going through grueling tutelage, they exhibit more viciousness, become hardened and lacking in compassion? Definitely, it is all traceable to the environment where they were instructed and in which they live. No one nurtured in a place devoid of empathy and constantly in flux, escapes being trapped in a world that makes individual survival an overriding priority. The first sight that confronts a police recruit in these colleges is that of decay and poverty. Even their welfare is shoddily handled, while the society expects them to be as dedicated and efficient as their counterparts in more advanced and organised societies. And since they are not able to measure to societal expectations, they are loathed and seen as cogs impeding the progress of the country.
Candidly, the deplorable state of the facilities at the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, is just a tip of the iceberg; it then shows that it is just a tiny manifestation of a pervasive rot that had gone on for a long time. A former Inspector General of Police, Mohammad Gambo, in an interview after the President’s visit said of the video footage: “I was so depressed because this was the institution I had attended from 1958 to 1960 and was one of the best on the entire African continent. So when I saw it in the manner it had been exposed, I was terribly devastated. I thought how could this happen to any of the government institutions of this country that has been given a budget that is supposed to be under the supervision of one area or the other, and still be allowed to be in the state that we were shown?”
It is surprising because if one thinks that the exposition on the police college will be exempted from the all-encompassing decay that has, for such a long time, held the country in a vice grip. The observations and sentiments of the former IG Gambo are valid not only for the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja but for virtually all such public institutions in the country and it is certain that other such training schools must have suffered similar deterioration to a lesser or greater degree. The ensuing questions are also apposite. How have the budgets for the upgrading and maintenance of these institutions over the years been spent? Or could it be that the concerned authorities actually failed to include them in their budget proposals?
However, aside the police college, a visit to other institutions belonging to this country even outside the shores of this nation will show their sorry states. For instance, the pervasive corruption in Nigeria has gone up to even the Nigerian Embassy in USA, as a Nigerian writer in his write up titled ‘Nigeria Police College is a Metaphor’ said this; “Unfortunately, this collapse and lack of a reformative national ethos find expression even outside Nigeria. While the debate on President Jonathan’s visit to the PCI was still on, I spoke with a friend at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA, who is organizing a colloquium on war crimes and genocide. He told me he went to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC, to inform embassy officials about his event and was dispirited at the sight of the tattered Nigerian flag at the embassy flying at half-mast. To think we have an ambassador who goes into the embassy every morning and leaves at the close of work. To any curious foreigner, there couldn’t be a better glimpse of how dysfunctional the motherland is.
“How much does a flag cost? How much pride and faith do we have in our nation and its institutions that would enable us protect and defend them even if it means replacing something as “minor” as a flag?” In response to the question on the cost of a flag, Emma Ezeazu of the Alliance for Credible Elections offered this profound contribution: “The cost of that flag is the determination to serve. Can someone tell me the Naira/Dollar equivalent of the determination to serve? If this cost can be quantified, perhaps our people will come together, contribute through ‘esusu’ (thrift) and buy this determination for our so-called leaders”.