Victor is a Nigerian police inspector who’s been in the force for 16 years. For this week’s Navigating Nigeria, he spoke to Citizen about his reasons for joining the police, why he thinks the Nigerian people get the police they deserve, and other policing matters ranging from Seun Kuti to the Police Pension Bill.
Editorial Note: Navigating Nigeria is a platform for Nigerians to passionately discuss the Nigerian experience with little interference from individual opinions. While our editorial standards emphasise the truth and endeavour to fact-check claims and allegations, we are not responsible for allegations made about other people based on half-truths.
What were your motivations for joining the Nigerian police?
I didn’t sit down and decide to join the police. It wasn’t out of free will. I joined out of anxiety for myself and my siblings. It’s needful to add that my father was a police officer. He was retiring from the force, so I had to take up the job to cater for myself because it’d have been difficult for him to provide for my younger siblings and me as a retiree.
I lived a quiet and principled life, thanks to my parents’ upbringing. This has helped me to stay sane in the force.
The truth is that many conditions have pressured some of us into doing not-so-nice things that aren’t worth mentioning. Ultimately, policemen aren’t drafted from space or a foreign country. We’re all a product of Nigerian society, for better or worse.
Care to shed light on this?
The police aren’t the most corrupt institution there is in Nigeria. We’re just closer to the people than other institutions, reinforcing the perception that we’re the worst, and I’d like to clarify this.
If you’re crude to them, don’t take care of them or see to their basic remuneration needs, or if working conditions are not good, they’ll do whatever they can to make things conducive for themselves. The risk involved in policing is high, and we’re endangering ourselves daily without adequate insurance. You meet all of these needs, and you’ll get a civil police. If you don’t, you’ll have a disgruntled and unsatisfied police force that can’t attract the best minds.
I hope Nigerians’ defensive nature can be worked on as we assert our authority when we feel undermined. Things could improve if Nigerians don’t always see us as the enemy.
Addressing these issues will attract people with principles to the force and help sanitise it.
What has your experience with the police force been like so far?
I’m a police inspector and have been in the police force for 16 years. A police officer is a member of society vested with the authority to keep society sane by a set of prescribed rules and regulations put in place by society. A police officer makes sure no one contravenes these laws. If these laws are contravened, the erring person faces the consequences.
Society has to consent to your authority as a police officer before you can police them. Other than that, it’s sheer slavery.
That said, my experience hasn’t been so bad. Besides the impediments I raised earlier, I’ve consistently tried to improve myself. I see some of the pitfalls police officers face when policing the community and learn from them not to replicate them in my life. I want to leave lasting impressions in the minds of the people I meet daily. I’m courteous with people, keeping an open mind, and empathetic in my interactions. This has made me stand out, and overall, the testimonies I’ve received make the experience worthwhile.
This would be a good time to hear your thoughts on the Seun Kuti matter
I think Seun’s reaction was malicious and premeditated. It was a calculated attempt at humiliating the entire Nigeria Police Force. He went on Instagram (IG) to brag that he isn’t like other celebrities who would come on IG to explain being slapped or confronted by the police. He even asked if we knew how many police he’d slapped in the past without consequence.
Overall, the police handled the situation well, as due process was followed after he turned himself in, and eventually, he was bailed. He would have been sorry he slapped an officer in uniform in other, more advanced countries. Somebody got 70 years imprisonment for spitting on a police officer in the USA.
In conclusion, men of the junior ranks, like the policeman involved with Seun, should exercise more restraint, and civilians should loosen up a little more and show some respect for our police force. It’s the only way the experiences between the two can get better.
Final words on the new Police Pension Bill approved by the Senate
The passage of the Bill for the Nigeria Police Pension Board is a very laudable and long due. I’m hopeful for the gracious endorsement of the President, and that implementation will be expedited.
I like this development because, consequently, police officers, upon retirement, can access a chunk of, if not all, of their retirement benefit and not the meagre amounts handed to them, which is almost inadequate to do anything meaningful with.
As with the other sister agencies, like the DSS and the military, which were since exempted from the contributory pension scheme, retired police officers would be able to maintain a decent livelihood and also cater for their essential needs, especially their health, as their take-home would remain their basic salaries while they were still serving.
That said, I’d like the government to look at upscaling the remuneration of police officers. As it stands, the risk involved in policing far outweighs the monetary compensation. I’m not implying that there’s a momentary equivalent of staking one’s life daily but as a moral booster. The Nigeria Police has one of the poorest remunerations compared to other African Countries.
There are also other welfare-related matters, such as comprehensive insurance packages for every police officer. The present Inspector General of Police hinted at it, but I’m not sure of the state of the proposal at this time. Housing is another crucial necessity. Most police officers live outside the barracks, largely in shabby and dilapidated states. The aforementioned facilities are the basic requirements that are supposed to be in place for a functional and confident police force and officers, as it were. Again, I’d say that every society gets the police force it deserves. If you compromise their welfare and working conditions, you’ll have a dissatisfied police force.