Information Technology in any organization is the key to day-to-day activities. It does not just enhance communication which is a vital arm of any organization, but it also gives them the ability to develop and carry their duties most effectively. A computerized system in the Nigerian Police Force would easily enable the sector to record and track activities as well as criminals. These are a few out of major problems the Nigerian Police are yet to tackle. In their current state, a lot of criminals after being screened during arrests have been allowed to go back to the streets for lack of incriminating evidences. They are not being tracked nor kept on surveillance, and such lapses further confound safety issues in the community. An effective IT system allows the police to keep records/ data and locations of notorious criminals or ex-convicts; as well as keep them under surveillance. In a typical system equipped with effective IT tools, a lot of criminals could be apprehended just by intense surveillance.
Another important aspect of the IT system in the Nigerian Police is effective communication. The Nigerian Police at this time must have a National Emergency number that actually functions. This number could be connected to the police switch box with 24-hour live operators. The operators would then connect to the field response team and officers. Additionally, another level of this transformation process would be the upgrade of police cars. Every police car in order to function very well must be equipped with the necessary technology for rapid response to crime. These would include a direct connection to the system switch board alerting them of emergency calls and locations. Furthermore, these vehicles must be equipped with computer units to check motorists, monitor speeds, and navigate locations. It would also put road users on check about compliance.
Walkie-talkie communication devise and other system units in police cars are highly recommended. Such communication gadgets would enhance effective tracking of various culprits of different crimes, either during police chase; information processing, or messaging. It is also beneficial when institutions and individuals donate vehicles to the Nigerian Police. However, these vehicles must be customized with the latest technology, to enable users perform different security tasks. Other issues that are important to innovation in the Nigerian Police are; nature of police stations, training, academy, and welfare.
Lots of pathetic pictures in the social media of police stations across the country are most terrifying. The Police Stations in Nigeria today are below standard. But every police station should be highly computerized and equipped with the latest communication devises, including closed- circuit television (CCTV) and other modern gadgets. The system must be connected to a national police number with an area code so that they could be activated once a crime is being committed within their jurisdiction. It is widely assumed that nothing works in Nigeria but this is a wrong perception. Nigeria can actually make things work as concerned citizens and with the right people in office. Also, the issue of the Nigerian Police being underfunded must also be addressed in order to fully rehabilitate this department. Every police station should be a model. As Nigeria upgrades these various aspects of her police, she must also deal with the most important aspect which is the training of officers.
Nigerian Police Force should be commended for doing so much in the midst of so little. Even with surmounting issues, they have been able to capture the worst of criminals, suppress disturbances, and coordinate a chain of information leading to unveiling of some heinous crimes within the society
With the upgrade, comes a need for the training of the different caliber of the police. This would apply to every personnel in all the units. These training could come at different levels; from the officer who receives calls to the one in the operating room. It must also extend to the behavioral aspect of the personnel management. Every officer is first a human-being with personal issues, so they have to be trained to separate these issues from their individual tasks. The realization of what the police is all about should make officers passionate about their work. The training could either be done overseas or in Nigeria, based on the capacity. There are various consultants and facilitators who are professionals in this and could bring the training to their doorsteps. However, there are other training levels which absolutely might require that the trainees travel abroad because of the magnitude of equipment or technologies needed. In all, it is highly advised that the police be trained periodically and their equipment be upgraded at various aspects of their job execution.
The issue of police training schools must also be addressed. In Nigeria, a general overhaul of the police academy would be recommended. Their training institutions must be up to standard at all levels. The hostels, food, equipment, and amenities must be provided with high quality. The Trainees/recruits must be in good shape and the health department must be well equipped. Qualified trainers and instructors must be used to ensure quality education. All these are achievable and could make the Nigerian Police the best in the continent, and also enable them to compete with their global counterparts.
Furthermore, the issue of police welfare has been one that no government has been able to solve. It has created a lot of controversies in the past and so many individuals have offered different views and solutions. However, one of the best ways to create good employee motivation is through welfare. It was once said that bankers spend so much time at work but hardly complain. This might be because their welfare package is quite commendable. Meanwhile, the ones who are meant to be protecting the people and ensuring peace and safety are the worst paid and less maintained. Nigerians have seen and felt disgusted at the sight of various police accommodations in the country popularly known as “Barracks.” These buildings are so dilapidated that one wonders how safe they are with children living in them. But these are where men and women of the police go back to after hard days’ work. Such condition is unacceptable. These facilities could be renovated. Furthermore, officers should be given accommodation packages to assist them in getting better homes.
When one sees a policeman abroad, they are filled with a sense of awe and pride at their dressing and general composure. These men and women are always neatly dressed, polite and well behaved at all times. They are equally trained and prepared to fight crime. A good look at Nigerian police officers on the street reveals despair, a sense of lack of passion and frustration. This cuts across to their attitude, which is often aggressive outbursts and errors of fatal accidental trigger discharges. Such mishaps from supposedly trained officers are a complete joke. Nigeria cannot allow this to be the picture of her Police Force. It has to be reformed.
Furthermore, the salary of the average policeman is so meager that it cannot even afford them the worst kind of livelihood. In fact, the widespread bribery and corruption among the officers have been blamed on poor salaries and benefits. No matter how much people stress on the issue of corruption, if Nigeria do not improve the welfare package of their police, there would certainly be no headway in that discussion. As a country, Nigeria must make sure that those entrusted with protecting lives and properties must be well taken care of at all levels. It is not just the top officers, but also the very least ones armed to go after criminals.
Finally, the Nigerian Police Force should be commended for doing so much in the midst of so little. Even with surmounting issues, they have been able to capture the worst of criminals, suppress disturbances, and coordinate a chain of information leading to unveiling of some heinous crimes within the society. All these can be improved on with much greater and lasting results. Once aforementioned recommendations are put in place, Nigeria would be on the way to having the best Police Force in Africa and indeed the world.
♦ Princess Pamela Uloma Adikwu is the former editor of the African Dame. She is affiliated with writers at the Center for Research, Information Management and Media Development (CRIMMD).