– The Sun News
SPOKESMAN

Dilemma of a spokesman

Ben Okezie

The world over, a spokesperson is one who bears the burden to disseminate and explain the stand of institutions and governments policy to members of the public, especially journalists, who are the bridge between the institution and the public. However, in recent times, persons with unbaked credentials and inadequate knowledge of the profession usually make nonsense of the office of the spokesperson. To some, it is a display of intellectual ability, or the exhibition of radical propensity, while to many others it is a show of ego and, to some, pure rascality and, lastly, to some few, it is reincarnating their real nature, which is lying.

Lying, to some people, is part of their nature, so whatever they do always has the coloration of falsehood.

We have seen such characters in the country before now and after their exit history always blanks them off. However, those on the side of truth receive the accolade of the people.

Last Monday, aggrieved mobile policemen in their hundreds besieged the police headquarter in Maiduiguri, Borno State, agitating over the non-payment of their seven months’ special duties allowance. These gallant men were not natives of Borno State, they were drafted to the state to assist the military in ensuring the sustenance of peace in the region. The siege on the police headquarters prevented anyone from entering the premises.

It was gathered that even the deputy police commissioner was prevented from gaining entrance into his office. So also was traffic on the roads around the headquarters disrupted. The policemen, as is usual with them, shot indiscriminately into the air, shouting and talking to anyone who cared to listen to their plight. It was learnt that the intervention of the Borno State governor, who promised positive action on the matter, saved the situation. It is on record that, many years ago, an Inspector-General of Police was removed because his policemen went on strike for non-payment of their salaries.

One would have thought that the days of providing service without pay were over, that the police hierarchy has learnt from that particular situation. Come to think of it, non-payment of special duties entitlements has always been the bane of policemen. Policemen would be drafted to go and carry out some assignments in states that are miles away from their residence and all that you hear is that their allowances have not been paid. Unfortunately, the policemen resort to mounting illegal roadblocks and extort money from drivers to make ends meet.

No matter the excuses, it is purely lack of administrative competence that can make a leader to dispatch armed men to another state without adequate provision for their welfare and daily upkeep. It is even unfortunate to hear that uniformed men drafted to a war zone are neglected without any appropriate care. When this writer visited the Boko Haram enclave in Borno, soldiers were seen in their mobile tents.

They lived in the tents for days and, interestingly, I was made to know that each tent was visited by either a commander or other top brass on a regular basis. When there is a casualty, the Chief of Army Staff pays a condolence visit to the bereaved family and the community. Such caring disposition is virtually lacking in the police setup.

Oftentimes, policemen drafted to provide security during elections have always complained of being shortchanged. Many are completely denied their allowances and they have been shut down from complaining. The police system is a den of insincerity and injustice. It is in the police that course mates who have no stain on their records are denied promotion for one obscure issue or the other. These are the grouses those who clamor for state police tenaciously hold for such agitation.

Playing back the Maiduguri episode, it was surprising that the police spokesman, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, could face Nigerians and issue a press statement blatantly denying what was obvious to everyone in Maiduguri. Such denial speaks volumes of the character of the person and the office he holds.

How can Mr. Moshood say that the agrieved policemen were only visiting the headquarters in Maiduguri on an inquiry about their unpaid wages? Could it then be that the mobile policemen captured on photo were “ghost policemen”? How come Mr. Moshood was able to invent a scenario that was completely different from the actual scenes that were captured by journalists?

No wonder, many Nigerians would rather listen to the narratives of a street drunkard at a crime scene than believe that of Mr. Moshood. Truth elevates a man while falsehood diminishes the integrity of a man. Is it not the holy book that says, “deprive not the worker of his wages”? Depriving those mobile policemen their wages (allowances) is sin against God.

As it is, even the federal government understands the deep gravity of non-payment of allowances to trained armed security personnel than the police leadership, which makes it rather unfortunate. Security is the backbone of every government around the world.

Without security, no government can function and without security the economy cannot progress because law and order will break down and chaos would be the order of the day. Therefore, the welfare of those protecting life and property should be of utmost importance to government and the security chiefs.

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Tokunbo David
Tokunbo David

Writer and editor.

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