Paying The Police A Livable Minimum Wage By Ogaga Ifowodo

Ogaga Ifowodo

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, wants to raise the entry point salary in the force from N28,000 to N100,000. He is proposing the increase as part of his effort to reform a force that is so ill-trained, poorly equipped, unmotivated, corrupt and dangerous that it is universally vilified and held in the highest odium and ridicule of all the institutions of the dilapidated Nigerian state. The police may not entirely deserve that reputation, considering how thick the layers of slime that cover every other key organ of state. From a presidency that does not flinch at a billion naira food budget and that is eager to build a N2 billion banquet hall and a N4 billion “First Lady” secretariat, to the most expensively-paid national legislature in the world, down to ministries and parastatals whose sole reason for existence is contract-mongering, the entire Nigerian public sector is a cesspool of corruption.

Unfortunately for the police, it has by its own hand seared two images indelibly onto the mind of anyone, citizen or foreigner, who has ever travelled a kilometre or two on a busy Nigerian roadway (say from the Lagos airport to Oshodi, or along any motorable stretch of the Benin-Shagamu expressway).

They are images of gun-point extortion at roadblocks and of the cold-blooded murder of the citizen who resists being robbed.  Abubakar is aware of the daunting image problem of his force and may have taken the first genuine step at doing something concrete about it. He can hardly be faulted for wanting to start by raising the slave salaries of the lowliest of his men and women in the hope of achieving a commensurate boost in morale. A salary, after all, is meant to cater to the material needs of the worker for optimum performance and for a healthy replenishment of the labour pool. Those needs include food, housing, clothing, healthcare, school fees, leisure and saving for a rainy day as well as for retirement.  Yet, somehow, the assumption has been that N28,000 is enough to meet these needs monthly, even if a policeman had only himself to care for.  Well, not anymore. “The money you are being paid is not enough,” said Abubakar to the Plateau State Command in Jos. But his “officers and men” know that well enough, so he quickly added, “that is why the police is working towards increasing the money.” Money may not buy happiness, but it might just buy for Abubakar’s troops some sorely needed morale: “We are doing our best to ensure that your morale is high,” he said further, in the hope that they would then do their “best at ensuring that the society is free of any form of crime.’’

Quite often, when we bemoan corruption, we do not make a link to its underlying socio-economic causes. And that is mostly because we are now accustomed to hearing of billion and trillion naira thefts, sums that the ordinary duty officer at a roadblock will never haul home even if he did nothing else but collect N50 notes night and day for ten years. Yet corruption is now choking the country to death simply because it has permeated the entire fabric of our social life. Such that it is now impossible to distinguish it from the norm. Actually, it is now the norm. Under the intolerable burden of surviving literally on mere air and water, the masses followed the example of their opulent rulers and gradually changed their attitude from condemnation to condonation and approval. A fundamental revision of the ethical code, it required justification in social necessity.  As, for instance, the bleak fact that the minimum wage is N18,000. And anybody who has ever bought a fish bigger than her hand or a sizable tuber of yam knows that figure has absolutely no basis in reality.  A police constable earning N28,000 has about N900 per day. Now, try feeding one mouth — child or adult, it doesn’t matter — “three square meals” with that! And, while you are at it, be sure to never need a shirt or a pair of shoes; to pay rent or transport fare, school or doctor’s fees.

Any surprise, then, that corruption should become a way of life for us, perpetuated over time chiefly by the thieving ruling class and now enjoying the status of a paramount but unofficial policy of government? Why wouldn’t the clerk at the motor licensing office, the customs officer at the airport, the headmaster of the primary school, the local government officer in charge of market stalls, etc., demand a bribe before doing his or her duty? Back home at the close of work, will the conscientious discharge of his duties silence the wailing children? Pay the school fees of the child home for a week now? Buy the drugs to cure malaria?

Labour congress president, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, is ecstatic to the point of prayer about the IG’s proposed minimum wage for police constables.  “I pray to the almighty God that the federal government grants the request … they deserve it,” he said. And I say, As well for the cow as for the bull. Now there can be no excuse on the part of Omar not to call for a final showdown with the government for a livable minimum wage of N100,000 for all workers.

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With N100,000 salary comes N100,000 worth services.

I say N100,000 only if a new system of policing is introduced like in the rest of the world...such that the policemen will have
1. A defined physical form (special emphasis on size and entry age).
2. A reorientation of what Policing is with more modern tactics of policing incl. use of k9s.
3. Good and well structured command posts which have communication gadgets, better clean temporary detainment cells NOT the garbage dumps/shacks they operate from.
3. Different uniforms for different duties (Everyday special Police patrol outfit-outfit to include boots -holsters for cuffs, pistols, tasers, communication radios, ...Special outfit for a.crowd control, b.offensive operations with facemasks.etc)
4. Workout sessions 3 times every week + Alcohol/substance tests run randomlyetc.
Not the lazy, old, weak, dirty, smelling, unthreathening looking washed up caricatures which Nigerians have come to know as OCs. But then N100,000 should be the new minimum wage for all service jobs.

Police, Government Officials and the Nigerians

Nigerian officials cannot rise above bread and butter issues. If they have more(stolen) money, they buy more cars and marry more women. Poor wages means the police are incapable of dealing with serious crisis in the country. As a result, the same insecurity that characterized the Obasanjo era is still with us.

Why did Musa YarAdua harp on "rule of law"? (4)

OBJ poll

-Giving away Bakassi peninsula without a national referendum or conference: 3% (1 vote)
-Mismanaging our national pension fund and presiding whilst $15bn went missing and denying pensioners their pensions: 3% (1 vote)
-Deceiving Nigerians that Abacha's government was bad, to justify undoing most of Abacha's good work: 3% (1 vote)
-Presiding over the worst period of political assassinations in Nigeria's history: approx 20 assassinations including Bola Ige: 0% (0 votes).

You may ask what has OBJ got to do with this Police salary increment.

You tell me why these have nothing to do with our present parlous state in all aspects of OUR life.

Why did Musa YarAdua harp on "rule of law"?

Back to Police. When you see Police and policing in the rest of the world and juxtapost their status and respect they are accorded, compared to their Nigerian counterpart, an inexplicable emotion of suppressed laughter, pity and disgust should surely well up in you.

Why did Musa YarAdua harp on "rule of law"? (3)

OBJ poll:

-Presiding during collapse of electrical power supply in entire eastern region: 0% (0 votes)
-Inviting US military into Nigeria and exposing national security secrets: 3% (1 vote)
-Making himself minister of Petroleum and failing to have his management of oil revenue audited till this very day: 3% (1 vote)
-Embezzling an estimated $120bn or approx N20 trillion: 9% (3 votes)

-Sold off all of Nigeria's assets including Oil Blocks , Refineries, Electricity Authority, National, Telecommunications and historical buildings etc.: 6% (2 votes)
-Buying up the national assets he privatised at a price that is a tiny fraction of its true value: 3% (1 vote)

Why did Musa YarAdua harp on "rule of law"? (2)

OBJ poll:

-Mismanagement and closure of our National Airline Nigeria Airways: 9% (3 votes)
-Massacre of thousands of villagers in Odi, Bayelsa State in Niger Delta: 9% (3 votes)
-Taking IMF loans and implementing damaging economic policies: 6% (2 votes)
-Increasing fuel prices by 500%: 9% (3 votes)
-Deceiving Nigeria by claiming fuel was subsidised: 6% (2 votes)
-As military ruler, using the funds /land for "Operation Feed Nation" to acquire his Ota farm: 6% (2 votes)
-Covertly sponsoring the coup in which Muritala Mohammad was assassinated, and executing dozens of people to cover up: 3% (1 vote)
-Closing Petroleum Trust Fund and allowing Infrastructural decay: 3% (1 vote)

Why did Musa YarAdua harp on "rule of law"?

You know as far back as mid 2000, when I wrote under my real name, I had suggested that the lowest paid Police officers should take home Naira 100,000 a month. I argued that with such a steep income, 'kobo kobo' corruption and even 'I DON'T GIVE A DAMN' type would be minimalized, the force would attract the very best, as long as Nepotism did not rear its ugly head as it did with NNPC, NPA, Customs and all the other juicy corporations in Nigeria. OBJ did not listen.

Before I published, I went on a search of Policing in Nigeria. It was then I came across a Poll - "What is Obasanjo's crime against Nigeria?"

What is Obasanjo's crime against Nigeria?
-Massacre of Tiv civilians in Zaki Biam Benue State: 9% (3 votes)
-Impoverishment of the Nigerian Masses by 500% devaluation of Naira.: 6% (2 votes)

Can we agree to diagree

I would say this is wishful thinking. That our Police are robbers is more a reflection of our society than their level of pay. Our Legislators are amongst the best paid in the world but when it comes to corruption they are the worst offenders. As you enter our country be it through our seaports or airports, you run into the same institutionalised corruption. There are no checks and balances in our whole polity.
If the government where to listen to Abubakar (IGP) and pay the lowest paid Policeman 100,000 Naira per month, I can safely assure you that the extortion of motorists and those who are unfortunate to have dealings with the Police at Police Stations will continue to suffer the same faith.
Our problems are too entrenched to be resolved with a salary increase.

Good Idea...

only if ALL the present serving officers will be retired immediately and replaced with new officers with at least a minimun of BSc, BA, or HND degrees.

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