• Monday, May 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

The Nigeria Police and the promised helicopters

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Helicopters have suddenly become one of the most popular issues of public discourse. Yet, they were such a fascinating novelty in those days.

As military governor of Rivers State in the mid-80s, Fidelis Oyakhilome, a retired assistant inspector-general of police, liked helicopter a lot. To show off his Green River project, an agro-based rural development initiative that he came up with, there was always a fleet of helicopters to take journalists on a tour of the scheme in different parts of the water-logged terrain. So the point can be made that helicopters are an inevitable option for authorities in the more inaccessible part of the Niger Delta.

However, there was a tragic twist to this fascination for helicopters late last year with the tragic fates of Kaduna State governor, Patrick Yakowa, and former chief security adviser to the president, Owoye Azazi, in a helicopter crash.

Currently, Nigerians are being treated to a drama of the absurd of sorts. Is this simply an aviation issue or part of a plan to silence a deviant and defiant political adversary? Have Rotimi Amaechi’s personal aides allowed themselves to be misguided by their principal’s overconfidence in not organising the paperwork connected to their functions of ferrying then man around the country? Or has someone been detailed to keep a tab on the overconfident governor and look out for loopholes on the bases of which to frustrate or embarrass him?

Last Monday, at the Eagle Square in the federal capital, when the Nigeria Police Week was observed with very impressive fanfare, a deafening applause greeted the pledge by the president to provide every state police command with a helicopter.

Those who stand to reap bountiful benefits from syndicating the supplies of the helicopter were over the moon with delight. The applause drowned the reservations of many in the audience who wondered whether the federal government was getting the priorities of the police right. Those who are sworn opponents of the concept of state police were seen beating their chests for winning again. However, the rank and file of personnel of police operation divisions who every day struggle for fuel and maintenance funds to keep their battered pick-up vans on the road could not have been impressed.

How do helicopters constitute a priority for dealing with crime and security issues in Nigeria? What is the sustainability plan for these helicopters? Has anyone done any cost-benefit analysis of helicopters in this scheme? Does every state command have equal need of helicopters as the others?

If a state command were given the option of deploying the equivalence of the cost of purchasing a helicopter to some other operational ends (police welfare, IT facilities, promotion of effective police-community relationship, better training for command personnel, etc), which would it prefer?

The inspector general of police should think twice about the president’s offer.