State Police without Restructuring Is Meaningless

State Police without Restructuring Is Meaningless

By Azuka Onwuka

Because of the recent killings in the country, the state governors have seen the need to ask for the creation of state police. It was reported that on February 12 the 36 state governors endorsed the creation of state police to address rising insecurity in the country. The piece of news was announced by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, at the National Security Summit organized.

Governor Yari, who is also the governor of Zamfara State, was upbeat that the creation of state police would enable the country to overcome the security challenges in part of the country.

The state governors realized that contrary to the empty title of “chief security officer of the state” given to them, in practical terms they have no control over the security of their states. When there is a security issue in their state, they cannot even direct a police constable to take any action without the policeman first getting a clearance from the commissioner of police in the state. The governor cannot command the army stationed in his state. He cannot even direct the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on what to do.

So the state governors discovered that when it comes to security, they are toothless bulldogs. They can watch their people slaughtered but offer no help to save them or prevent them from imminent death. Having faced this type of helplessness, the governors realized that with the way Nigeria’s security is structured, if they don’t take any action, they will continue to watch their people massacred without being able to do anything.

For the governors, this is a personal battle. They have faced this disadvantage conferred on them by the Constitution for too long and believe it is time to take action, especially with the green light from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the need to create state police.

But in spite of the need to create state police, there are some issues that need to be taken care of first. The restructuring of Nigeria is a necessary condition that needs to be in place before state police should be created. Why is that so?

Currently, the money used by states to fund their activities comes from the proceeds of crude oil and taxes. This money is collected by the federal government and shared to the states every month according to some formula. For a state to have its own police is a sign of autonomy. It is in bad taste for a state to fund its police from money that comes from other states. A state should be able to create its own wealth with which it can recruit as many police officers it deems necessary. Such a state should also have the wherewithal to equip its police adequately.

With restructuring comes fiscal federalism. The states will stop receiving monthly federal allocations from crude oil, which make them lazy and lack initiative. They will start different projects unique to their states. They will create different social, religious, and political laws that will be peculiar to their states. Those who breach such laws will have the state police to contend with.

The laws of the states may not favour many residents in the state, especially those who are not indigenes of the state or do not share the same religious beliefs. The state police will be used to prosecute such people or beat them into line. It is immoral that the resources from a resident’s state of origin are used to fund the police of a state whose actions work against the interest of such a resident. Such would be easier to bear if the state makes its money and uses it to fund its police and other agencies and projects.

Each state currently has different number of local government areas, which were created during past military dictatorships. The number of the LGAs, population of the state and size of the state will determine the number of police officers to be recruited by each state. If the funding were to come from federal allocations, each state will recruit as many as possible, thereby running the risk of not being able to maintain the police. But if the funding were to come from the purse of each state, the state would recruit according to its financial capability.

What the state governors need now is to create armed vigilante groups with specific functions. These vigilantes will focus on protecting their communities against some violent crimes. They have effectively done that in some states.

The attitude of governors to power has shown that they are not capable of fairness to those they do not like. In all states where state governors have supervised the conduct of local government elections in the last 10 years and more, all the councils have been won by the ruling party in the state, contrary to the voting pattern in Nigeria. This is because the State Independent Electoral Commission in each state is appointed by the state governor.

This intolerance of opposition was reflected in Kaduna State last week where the state headquarters of the factional All Progressives Party in Kaduna was demolished by bulldozers. Interestingly Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, under whose watch that was done, witnessed the split of the Peoples Democratic Party before the 2015 election. Some members of the PDP called themselves New PDP and eventually pulled out of the PDP to join other groups to form the APC that won the 2015 election, which el-Rufai benefited from as the governor of Kaduna State. All the while the nPDP operated, their headquarters was not destroyed.

With such level of intolerance from governors, one wonders what they would do with state police. The hallmark of democracy is plurality of views. But in the states, there is a high level of intolerance of opposing views. The only reason those at the federal level try to tolerate opposing views is that any clampdown on the opposition by the federal government is easily reported by the international media and frowned at by international agencies. Issues that happen in states are usually seen as local events that don not attract high international attention.

Creation of state police is putting the cart before the horse. If the governors want state police, let them push for the restructuring of the country, which will come with fiscal federalism and devolution of powers. State police will naturally be an offshoot of restructuring. Like the English say, Nigerian governors cannot have their cake and eat it!



  1. Chizaram Ígōlō March 2, 2018 Reply
    • Azuka Onwuka March 3, 2018 Reply

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