Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Call the PoPo, Hoe!"

I went to a meeting last year for the International Women's Society in Lagos.
My mum took me along, and I was fortunate to sit in a room filled with very intelligent women.

One of their guest speakers was an Environmentalist. He was talking about what his company aims to do for Nigeria and the work that they do for the government. He was urging us to take our environment very seriously, and to ensure that we urge the people around us to do the same.

He said that, "There are Regulations for cutting down trees and if we saw people illegally doing it we should call the police." The talk ended and he asked if anyone had any questions.

I tentatively raised my hand.

They made me stand up and go all the way to the front.

I said, "I respectfully understand where you are coming from, however, you don't expect me to call the police when my neighbours are cutting down their tree? You don't expect me to say, 'Oga, make you come now, now, someone dey cut d tree 4 der house!' The police don't even come to help when it comes to armed robberies!"

The whole room burst out in laughter. He deflected my question as he couldn't think of a response.
To be honest, what would you have said in reply to that?

We live in a country with no adequate police force.
So those that have money, pay for mobile police from Security Company's. They are semi - reliable, they do their checks and their runs at 4 o' clock in the morning. So those that can afford it are semi - happy.
But what about the average Nigerian? How can we allow this to continue. We live in a place where we can't call the police to help in emergency situations. To be honest we can't even rely on our Embassy to bail us out either. That's another feature altogether.

There have been recently, armed robberies on the mainland in Lagos. These guys have guns, they are on drugs and they return to the same house twice if they think they have more to get from them.
I have been a victim of a home invasion, and I know how each family that this has happened to feels.
Ours however, was an inside job. There was more than one piece of damning evidence, and as a budding lawyer now, I know for a fact that they had more than enough to make an arrest. Even the suspects were found 'guilty' by the police but were released sometime after. Families have no closure, knowing that the people that destroyed their comfort and feeling of safety, is not paying for their crime.

I don't know whether you have ever thought about this, but do you know that bribing a police officer forms a reliance mechanism. They rely on that little something before they perform their services. To be honest, that is illegal on two fronts. The first is obviously the bribe, and the second is that they are not performing their existing public duty unless you pay them. They should be performing their duties regardless of what they get in return.
To be honest,  some argue that it's because they don't earn a decent living, so any extra they can get is a good thing. Not only that, but police officers in other countries don't either, but there is a reward system in place. The police in Nigeria, have nothing to look forward to achieving, that should push them to remain on the straight and narrow. Refer to my 'Reward System post for more info:

Now that may not be a big deal, but indeed it is, as they will never do what they should if we keep paying them off, for whatever reason. It's a whole mentality we have to change. Don't complain that we have corruption in Nigeria if you take part in it too.

You spoil one player, you make the game a lose/ lose situation for one other person.

The second issue is that the police refuse to engage in shoot outs with these armed robbers. This is their job for crying out loud. They should put their necks on the line. Like I said earlier, if there was a reward system things might be different. The police abroad get commendations for work like that.

Further, it's a mentality. Black people are generally scared of risky adventures, or things that put them in the line of fire, or in extremely dangerous situations. In general, that is why the 'white guy' tends to move ahead and progress. (There are obviously exceptions)

Nigerians are too scared to put themselves out there, just like the older generation is too scared to fight back. But that is why we have the youth, to make a change now!


  1. Hey GeeGee what a brilliant idea you've got. How come you have many people who have viewed this page and I see no comments. Are they hidden somewhere? lol.

    You said: “They should be performing their duties regardless of what they get in return. ‘To be honest, it's because they don't earn a decent living so any extra they can get is a good thing.”

    Those two statements are opposing. The former countered the latter! But I will go with the former because that typifies the code of conduct on which every police officer should operate. The latter should not in any way suffice as an excuse. By the way, how do you measure a “decent living”?

    You said: “The second issue is that the police refuse to engage in shoot outs with these armed robbers. This is their job for crying out loud. They should put their necks on the line. Like I said earlier, if there was a reward system things might be different.”
    O yeah, it is their job. But they need adequate training! One thing is to have a gun to stand on duty post; another thing is know how to engage in combat with an “enemy.” I bet you’ll laugh the hell out when you see on television the kind of combat training these guys are given. The ones I have seen were nothing better than ‘jokes’. Lots of restructuring need to be done in the NPF. The PSC has totally failed; that’s where restructuring needs to start from. I think emphasis should be more on trainings and insurance (on the job insurance)! Trainings should encompass vocational trainings. Large amount of money are budgeted every year for both NPF and PSC. Even the MoPA gets big allocation in every budget. But these three bodies often claim they don’t have enough funding. What they do with the ones budgeted for we all know! As it is today, there is no minimum requirement before you get into NPF. That’s why the chunk number of people who are there are by default (especially the limited graduates). Police force should be made attractive! Over here people would whole heartedly join the force, but back home it’s only by default.

    You said: It's a mentality. Black people are generally scared of risky adventures, or things that put them in the line of fire, or in extremely dangerous situations. In general, that is why the 'white guy' tends to move ahead and progress.

    I totally disagree with you! If those were arguments, they don’t in any way hold water! You probably said that out of anxiety. I pardon you! lol. How many black soldiers are involved in peace keeping missions around the globe (have a look at the UN peace keeping missions for e.g.)? How many black people have emerged successfully in their fields of endeavors? Take a closer look at the UN, IBRD, etc. Have a look at the medical field, ICT, Economics, Politics, Literature and Arts, etc. Virtually in all the field success stories abound. And we are waxing stronger than before.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Well, they have not been written, hence why there are no comments. I'm glad however, that you decided to comment on this post.

      1) Okay, so first of all, what I was trying to say was that from the POV of the police, that is their excuse. I agree with you their actions are not to be condoned but there you have it. That's the main reason why they choose to do what they do.
      A decent living is when someone is paid well above minimum wage, the ability to be paid what they should be paid for the work that they do, the skills that they have. In Nigeria, the minimum wage is currently 18,000 naira per month. However, a lot of police officers are not even paid that every month. They have a family to look after etc. Those pressures lead them to be corrupt...

      2) I totally agree with you on your second point. The training is appalling. That definitely needs to be restructured. The police can only be made attractive if they are paid what they should be paid. Like I said in the post above, if they get awards and commendations for their work, and they are seen by society to be efficient then it might become an attractive line of work.

      3) I said in general for a reason. There are always exceptions, which are the ones you mentioned above. However, even if we took a look at history, when it comes to the black people that you mentioned above, that are brave and go above and beyond the call of duty, they are still in the minority. If we home in on Nigeria especially, they are definitely in the minority. We are not talking about academic or financial prowess, we are talking about hard, physical, scary, and dangerous work. That kind of work, a lot of Nigerians run away from.

  2. Seriously, I don't like this piece, I guess what brought about it is cos you were robbed and that is the only time you see the NPF is a mess. The police are doing their very best, blame the system, who ever dies serving this country, died for nada, the pensioners r there, so much around to see and consider before you say the Nigerian security aren't working.
    The solution to these problems are very simple, we have to stop running an oppressive society, the scale of earnings has to be properly consider, if you want to solve any nigeria problem, that where to begin, there is an adage that says "osise wa lorun, eni maje wa ni iboji" if you can write this piece cos u were robbed, a senator will do something about situation of things if they also walks among the people, its here in naija you hear govt officials call it citizen Common Men, these common men work very hard everyday and you know what ? That hard work can only afford them the meal for that very day, the salary of a police officer without family responsibility cannot last them beyond 15days. If we work on the income margin, from senator to road sweeper, you will see improvement everywhere, the police will do their job having at the back of their minds that cash is not their major goals of the day.
    Professions will be selected based on interest and not cash based, lecturers will do their work, school will not be a thing of opportunity, and the inflation that is killing this country will be completely solved.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you for your post. I understand where you are coming from, however, I just wanted to comment on a few things.

      1)I was robbed a long time ago, sometime in 2004. It doesn't take a person being robbed to see that the police system doesn't work. Are you denying that it doesn't?

      2)The scale of earnings is definitely an issue. I agree with you on that. The Senators that you speak of, they have most definitely heard of the robberies that occur, but they do nothing. The police that you mention don't earn enough everyday, I mentioned that in my piece being the main problem as to why they choose corruption over morals. But that shouldn't stop them from doing their job as they should. Instead, they accost people on the road for bribes.

      To be honest, Mr.Olasunkanmi, we are saying the same thing. Just in different ways. Please check out my Reward System post for further proof that we are on the same line of argument.