Security is an evolving phenomenon but when it is static, its potency becomes ineffective and rudderless. That was how the Community policing programme initiative that former lnspector General of Police Mr. Tara Balogun gave birth to in 2003 was comatosed after his exist from office and subsequent administration packed up the programme like a machine and abandoned it to rust away. This has been the bane of the Nigeria police, and our political institutions. Visions are killed for no justifiable reason. Some visions were killed out of sheer envy and wickedness. Visionary leaders come up with noble idea which was conceived after sleepless nights and then embark on its implementation only to leave the stage for another leader who instead of building on the idea, prefers to destroy or delete it from human memory. This is sheer wickness and witchcraft, afterall, it is the same tax payers money that is being expended. The Community policing programme received great attention and acceptability because it was to provide a lasting solution to many of Nigerias security problems. lt was to help nip in the bud crimes that would have claimed innocent lives and further startle our ill equipped security personnels.
The Community policing programme would have helped to restore the people confidence in the Nigeria Police and also see the personnels as friends of the community.
ln fact, all these internal insecurity that are plaguing the country could have been resolved and effectively handled. More painful is the fact that much resources was sunk into the realisation of the idea when five senior police officers of esteem integrity were sponsored to be trained on the rudiments of implementing community policing in the United States of America and Britain, unfortunately all the efforts were jettisoned for no tenable reasons. lt was therefore a welcome narrative when a senior special adviser on political affairs to the Vice President, Mr Femi Ojodu spilt the news at the public presentation of Sir Mike Okiro’s book titled “ Nigeria: the restructuring controversy”, that the presidency was already thinking ahead on the viability of reintroducing the community policing. So, when lbrahim Idris recently rolled out the drums to relaunch the programme as though it was his idea raised the question, after how many years in office? The relaunch would have been commendable but when credit and honour are not ascribed to the rightful person, it poses questions as to its genuine purpose.
The original initiator of community policing in Nigeria is Tafa Balogun and he should be credited as such.
The relaunch ceremony is seen as a wasteful ceremony in this era of change mantra. One would have expected more detailed input in the speech but as usual, there was really nothing to take home except the rehearsing of previous talks on community policing. All the major criminal incidents like suicide bombing or other heinous crimes that had occurred in London had either been foiled or arrested by the Community policing structure on ground. Same could not have been the case in Nigeria , as all the kidnapping cases would have been executed undetected.
As the first step, the ten thousand police recruits presently graduating from most Police colleges across the country should be used to rekindle this initiative. This commendable initiative of the Buhari administration. If pass marks should be awarded to all the security agencies according to performance, no one would blink an eye before scoring the police low and the military, Customs and lmigrations services higher. Even the president in his lndependence anniversary speech commended the Military just like he listed some state governors.
Though belated, the Community policing programme should have been the main cornerstone of Crime fighting and prevention in the country by the Buhari administration. Unfortunately successive police administrations and governments only paid lip service to this great idea. The world over, communities are fashioned and integrated into the policing system thereby making it very impossible for criminals to berth and carry out their nefarious activitie. Had other police administrations indegenised the Community police programme, the country would have been reaping the fruit of such progressive idea. A senior security personnel described Community policing as an ideology pointing that the re-launch should be extended to schools and communities where this type of policing can be inculcated in all the children of school age. No wonder, strangers in many foreign communities are easily noticeable because comunity policing is entrenched in those communities. In such communities, the relationship that exist between them and their police men cannot be compared to what is obtainable in Nigeria where the hatred for the police is at a boiling point. It has snowballed into a ridiculous situation where mothers use the police to intimidate their crying baby, yet the police public relations cannot sell the simple phrase “police is your friend” to Nigerians. The police must first warm itself towards the people by changing their behavioral way of carrying out their professional duties which to many is still questionable. A time was, when the police was indeed the friend of the people, questions must be asked of how did the public relationship with the police get sour?
These are some of the many obstacles that may strangulate the programme before the police can set out to rebrand itself and relaunch the Community policing else, it would be like a new wine in an old bottle.
Few more months the retirement bell of the lGP would have started ringing and one would ask, when exactly will this programme take effect. Like l noted, it would then be back to square one.