By Ibrahim Shehu
Last week was celebration time for Nigeria Police Force, NPF, officers across the country. This is because of the new Rank Salary Structure Adjustment approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for the Force ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Eye witness account who witnessed how officers responded to the Presidential approval in one of the police Divisions said they were in high spirit and ready to do the biddings of the President. The officers were said to have declared a free for all party to show their gratitude to the President.
Many of them were found to have wore mufti and others their uniform , particular the rank and file, but armed with their AK 47 as they danced to the rhythm. The source disclosed that the officers were careful not allow the street urchins who had flocked the scene to watch the officers who were happy that Buhari had adjusted their salaries and allowances upward. The source confirmed that the officers who were armed at the party were at the instance of the Area Commander to forestall any attempt by the street urchins who had flocked the area to watch the officers dancing to the rhythm of the music in the open space hijack the party and turn it to a war zone.
The story in Lagos state police Divisions and Area Commands was the same in Ogun , Oyo, Imo to Sokoto among others. The officers may have started the celebration when Zainab Ahmed, a former minister of State, Ministry of Finance and now the substantive minister of Finance and the Revenue mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAC, may not have worked out the details, an indications that the police may not get the Rank Salary Adjustment paid until next fiscal year when it could have been factored into yearly budgetary allocations. An officer who could not hide his feeling said the good news was the pronouncement made by the President about the increase. It would never be reversed being a policy statement, he said.
In approving the rank salary adjustment for the police, the President had said,” it was done because of their ‘Constitutional role as the frontline force in the prevention of crime in the society”. He stated that the rank salary adjustment for the force was done to encourage the officers to take their rightful place in Constitutional Democracy.
He is optimistic that with the approved salary increase, police officers would be more effective in quelling internal crisis without the involvement of the Army. ” I am pleased to make the increase in salary and allowances in the hope that it will increase the performance index of the police and strengthen Nigeria’s internal security system”, the President had said.
Clara Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Full- time Commissioner in the Police Service Commission, PSC, who represented Musiliu Smith, the Chairman and Ibrahim Idris the Inspector General of Police, IGP, may have understood the body language of the President when they paid him a thank you visit at the Presidential villa. The duo were said to have assured him that the Rank Salary Adjustment would enhance police welfare and morale. To further buttress the thinking of the PSC and the NPF,Idris, the IGP, was said to have reassured him that the police would redouble efforts to ensure free, fair and credible elections throughout the country next year.
Many believe no matter how President Buhari increase the salary and allowances of police officers , it would not stop them from extorting money from motorists along the road. Take for instance, along the Sango Otta-Idiroko land border, officer at the various police checkpoint force motorists to pay N100.00. The Magazine gathered that this is what the officers on Morning, Afternoon and Evening collect daily. A souce confirmed that that they give numbers to the motorists. The source disclosed that motorists contact them to sought out change matters. What the Police officers are doing along the Sango Otta – Idiroko road was not different from those along the Lagos -Seme road are doing: extortion of motorists.
Insiders told the Magazine that the only time they would not be found on the road, according to a source is either when the state Commissioner of police or the Inspector General’s Task Force are rumored to be around. This is why the IGP had to put an eye at what the officers are doing on the road to avoid people looking down on the police on duty posts. They have no reason to complain of poor welfare, any longer, the source added.
The Presidential approval of Rank salary adjustment for the police may have increased the agitation for the increase of the salary and allowances of other government agencies such as the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS and prisons, among others. Senator Shehu Sani was said to have championed the course of the prison officials. The police may not have got the salary increase approval if Kemi Adeosun, a former minister of Finance and Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Customs Comptroller General had resolved their differences to join forces to present the Customs case to the President in 2017. It would be recalled that Adeosun, the then minister of Finance had raised the hope of officers and men of the Service of improved salary at the World Customs Day celebration but that was how far she could go. The president may have to move fast to increase Customs personnel salary to sustain the high revenue collection at the ports and land border areas and anti-smuggling.
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