Experience has thought us that it is not enough to raise pay, in fact the more important one is for raised pay to be commensurate with work output and ethics. For the Nigerian police, public outcry over poor working conditions of men and women of the Force, has become a daily ritual. Everyone feels the police is under paid and poorly remunerated. However, recently the Executive chairman of National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule, approved a new salary structure for the crime-busting organisation. Though the new salary has been long overdue since late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua approved the last review that experienced staccato implementation, not a few members of the public are describing the current review as the right step in the right direction.
We have to appreciate this token of improvement. The review is best appreciated when viewed against the poor remunerations that have dogged the faulty reward system in the force, which in turn has led to poor morale and despair. Before the new salary structure was approved, officers and men of the force had been enmeshed in crises involving non-payment of salaries to hundreds of its personnel and inability to improve the welfare of the workforce. As a result, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, had called on the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to resolve cases of non-payment and short-payment of salaries of hundreds of police personnel across the nation. The IG’s distress call came on the heels of several petitions written by affected officers on the matter that largely went unresolved, with many of them complaining that portions of their salaries were deducted from the months of February to March, 2018.
With the upward review of their pay which has seen a substantial increase viewed against our current revenue, we hope that the shortfalls in salaries will equally benefit from this generosity. What must be avoided is a situation where these reviews are not implemented through constant deductions and delayed payments to meet the expected purpose. Since its establishment in 1930, the Nigeria Police has been exposed to too many challenges bordering on financial strains, with most of the officers resorting to buying their uniforms and other kits, among others. In some of the 2000 stations spread across the country, members of the Force have had to contribute to buy fuel for operational vehicles. All these have tended to encourage corruption in the system.
To make the new salaries effective, operational funding for the police should be enhanced and effectively implemented so that officers and men should be absolved of the responsibility of donation to fund operational activities of the police. Like members of other paramilitary organisations in the country, efforts should be geared towards providing accommodation to personnel in order to cushion the high cost of rents and provide conducive atmosphere for men and women of the Force for enhanced efficiency. Beyond the commendable approval for a new salary structure, the Police Command should liaise with the OAGF to ensure that henceforth no police personnel suffers from deducted/delayed salaries. Other welfare programmes for personnel of the Force should also be approved in order to boost morale of members in developing an effective crime-fighting machine for the safety of citizens.
A happy police should have positive impact on the society. Therefore we expect a more friendly police in their interactions with the people. Harassment and undue pressure on the public to collect bribes should be a thing of the past. We cannot afford to keep doing the same bribery and expect a different result. Members of the Force should reciprocate this upward review by being more civil with the public, after all the monetary improvement comes from the people.
Then this gesture can also become a stepping stone for some administrative and operational restructuring for effective policing. So remuneration is not the only challenge that the force has. We must address others too. With this review, we expect nothing to see the eyesore that is extortion on our roads. The Police should leave decorum and global best practices begin to guide their conduct. We equally need to see the impact of the Police Service Commission and the supervising ministry of Interior on the Force henceforth.