• Friday, April 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

An unintelligence police is a product of our broken society

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Nigeria continues to push on, albeit on a dangerous bend. We live in a broken society, but nobody is talking about it. It is because our society is broken that nothing seems to work, and it does not look like anything is going to change soon. Concern and attention of those who have a responsibility to respond to this danger are focused elsewhere. They are going on about the politics of 2011 and talking about the rather mundane issue of the geographical origin of the occupants of political office, as if non-elite Nigerians, if well provided for, would be bothered about this. Even now, they know that it is all a ruse, an opportunistic orchestration of those who, knowing they are not fit for purpose in the service of mankind and Nigeria, make them feel like they are about to lose something if someone else ascends a particular political seat.

They tend to succeed because this same people, having sown the seed of deceit across the length and breadth of the country, play on the elite-inflicted ignorance, lack of education and pauperization of ordinary Nigerians, in particular the majority who live in our villages and the shanties of our cities.

Yet, the politics that they promote above every other thing has not provided the answers yearned for by Nigerians, nor does it look like it is about to provide hope in 2011. For, up until May 1999, when democratic elections were held and offered some semblance of hope for a repair of the gaping cracks, this society had been totally broken in many areas of its life following prolonged military mismanagement. It is now 2010 and it is still broken, even more than it was post May 1999. And you will see signs of this broken society everywhere you turn – in homes, families, communities, at workplaces, and public institutions- including schools where academics would not bat an eyelid demanding from young students payments for grades and to write final dissertations and other project works.

The politics that was ushered in since 1999 has done little to repair our broken lives and our broken society. Rather, it has made things worse, because people search for answers to different questions in their lives and they get none. But this is not to suggest that democracy is wrong, or that it is worse than military rule. It is just that in Nigeria’s case democracy has been largely mishandled by those who have forced themselves into power. It is the reason why our politicians cannot see the broken state of our society.

In any organised society, or even one that pretends to be organised, when there are clear signs that it is broken, it is the responsibility of the political system to mend it. But it takes recognising the problem for those essential and meaningful first steps to be taken. Unfortunately for the Nigerian society, the political system is the worst culprit of its broken nature, and it contributes 101 percent to the various distortions of organised life experienced in this country. Yet, it fails, continuously, to mend itself and respond to what is clearly a danger to the continued existence of Nigeria. Our political system is the reason why everything is broken because it has succeeded in creating such a frightening level of inequality in the society where the top 10 percent is one million times richer than the bottom 10.

There are many areas that clearly show how broken this society has become – family disintegration, increasing number of drunks and drug users, a feral youth and adult population totally out of control, a lot of whom you can find in different states of the country championing kidnapping, assault and rape, murder and robbery. In some countries with more clearly defined social stratification, you would find this to have been politicians allowing an underclass to take root and fester. In Nigeria, it is often driven by a sense of injustice for which politicians pretend not to have a clue about dealing with. Politicians stood akimbo more or less and allowed militancy in the Niger Delta to take root and fester. Institutions with normal civic responsibility to deal with it found themselves helpless and caught up in the political manoeuvring that played out while the country sank from the consequence of the restiveness of the youths.

One of the consequences of all this is that challenges the legitimacy of almost every national institution, from the governance institutions to specific agencies with direct responsibility, for instance, to fight crime and the causes of crime. But the legitimacy ascribed to some institutions really comes into question when such institutions are perceived to be sucked into a position where they are perceived not to have a moral ground to act. One such institution would definitely be the Nigeria Police Force which, as it clearly seems to be the case now, suffers like the rest of society from being broken.

Everybody with a basic knowledge of crime fighting in better organised societies know that fighting crimes largely relies on intelligence gathering. You can talk about the lack of equipment, poor remuneration, and logistical challenges, but these are common in any police system in the world. In other words, budget is never enough for police authorities all over the world to do what they want to do. But the little money that is made available is used to do basic policing – gathering of intelligence, proactive engagement and defusing crimes before they are even committed.

Our broken society where the pursuit of wealth, particularly illicit acquisition of it, is such that our police has lost sense of what it takes to do proper policing. Kidnapping has been going on for so long in the East (not to be confused with the snatching that took place in the Niger Delta as a result of militant hostage takings) that all this time the police failed to do the basic, gather intelligence and deal with the problem. The Nigeria Police became highly exposed last week when some journalists were kidnapped between Akwa Ibom and Abia states. The Police were running up and down, rudderless like headless chickens and completely incoherent about what the situation really was. Again all this time when kidnappings were making the news, the police was not gathering intelligence.

You will find clear evidence of complete lack of basic police principles in the approach used when a crime is reported – whether in a household or on the streets – the Police will raid the house or scene and arrest any and everybody in sight. It will proceed not really investigating the crime, but with a process of extortions in what is tagged police bail. Legal or not, this is the story of our lives in this broken society; a broken society where everybody seems to be on the lookout for something to share.

The police, its officers, rank and file would rather be looking for something to share instead of putting basic policing principles in place. This society is getting the police force it deserves. It is not a very intelligence, conscious society; its pursuits are for the betterment of individual self not minding how this is achieved. That’s the nature of its police and a society that is broken and rotten does not deserve any better. So long!