By Sunday Adaji Esq.
It would seem the current security situation in Nigeria calls for a complete overhaul of our security apparatus, to wit, our law enforcement agencies, especially the Nigeria Police. This overhaul goes beyond removing the executive officers of our law enforcement agencies. The overhaul has to do with restructuring.
We have talked about community policing in the past, but the fact that citizens are not trained and well-armed for this limits our ability to make any significant headway in our resolve to maintain law and order in Nigeria.
We have also been talking about restructuring. Perhaps, this is the right time to restructure. The current security situation in Nigeria calls for restructuring. We have the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North East of Nigeria. We also have the herdsmen ravaging most parts of the North, destroying lives and property with impunity. There seems to be no end in sight.
The police force seems helpless. In fact, a significant number of policemen have been killed by these insurgent groups. Unless drastic measures are taken to grapple with the insurgencies in the country, we may be heading towards the state of anarchy.
The primary duty of the government is the maintenance of law and order. To this end, section 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), 1999, as amended, states: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Although our law enforcement agents are trying, their effort is not yet good enough, for as long as these insurgencies continue, they have to redouble their effort to ensure that law and order is restored.
Call for State Police
Many people who call for restructuring have advocated for entrenchment of true federalism. Although Nigeria is a federal state, we cannot say that Nigeria is practicing true federalism. In a true federalism, power resides with the component units of the states which form the federation. Nigeria is made up of 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Nigeria’s style of federalism operates a three-tier government, which is the federal government, the state governments and the local governments. However, power does not reside in the 36 states, but in the central government, otherwise known as the federal government.
The implication is that the central government is over bloated with the power that should reside in the 36 states. All the assets that should belong to the component states (natural and material resources) are taken over by the central government to be utilized for the benefit of the component states.
With power concentrated at the Centre, all 36 component states are forced to rely on the Centre for their monthly statutory allocation. Further, the Centre is in control and seen as the highest authority from which orders emanate. This is actually not the representation of a true federalism. In a true federalism, the component states are meant to be as, if not more powerful than the Centre.
One of the major shortcomings of Nigeria’s type of federalism is that until orders come from the Centre, the component states remain practically at a standstill. Everything depends on the Centre.
As a result of this major shortcoming, many have advocated for restructuring, calling for the establishment of a state police. Proponents of this restructuring are of the view that if each component state has her own police, they would be able to handle security situations in their territory.
The Federal Government seems to be toeing the line of restructuring the police as there is, before the National Assembly, the agitation for the amendment of the Nigerian Constitution to reflect restructuring. By this restructuring, each of the 36 states of Nigeria would have its own police while the Federal (Central) Government would have her own separate.
This is a welcome development. It is our hope that when the constitution is finally amended to restructure the Nigeria police, and the 36 state governments now establish their police, this restructuring will go a long way to curtail the problem of insecurity in Nigeria.