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Beyond the police officer’s salary raise

Elections: Commission redeploys 16 CPs

For officers of the Nigeria Police (NP), Wednesday, December 15, 2021 will remain a day to remember for a long time to come. That was the day the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, approved, among other incentives, 20 percent pay raises for them.

The salary review which, arguably, came as a huge morale booster for officers and men of the force, means that an officer that has been hitherto earning N50,000 per month will, beginning from January 2022 when the new salary will take effect, be earning N60,000 per month.

That is quite significant for the officers whose take home pay is said to be among the lowest in the Nigerian public service, leading them into some of the most unethical and unwholesome conducts on and outside their duty posts.

And that is not all. Maigari Dingyadi, minister of Police Affairs, who disclosed the salary review to newsmen after the FEC meeting in Abuja, also revealed that duty tour allowance for the officers has been raised to 6 percent. Though, he did not say where it is at the moment.

Additionally, the minister said that N1.012 billion was also approved for uninsured personnel from 2013-2020; N13.12 billion outstanding death benefits for 5,472 personnel from 2013 to August 2021 was also approved while N18.6 billion tax waiver was approved for junior officers from October 2021.

“Council has also graciously approved the annual insurance premiums of 750 million naira as well as payment of four billion, eight hundred and twelve million, five hundred thousand naira for the repairs and replacement of damaged police infrastructure in future budgets, starting from 2022,” the minister said.

He added that government has also approved an increase of the current rent subsidy, which is currently between 15 and 20 per cent, amounting to N61 billion. Increase is 40 percent of the consolidated policy salary structure (CONPOST) in the sum of seventy eight billion, three hundred million naira. That means an increase of about sixteen billion, four hundred million naira.

According to the minister, approval has also been given for the payment of an additional six percent shift duty allowance for officers on level 01 to 14 and the supervisors allowances for officers on level 15 and above.

“This will come out to about ten billion and thirty million naira with effect from 2022. Most importantly, government also approved payment of about 20 per cent of CONPOST, which is a peculiar allowance to boost morale, and take home pay of the Nigeria Police.

“This 20 percent is percentage of the total salary, known as peculiar allowance. It is a new allowance created to improve their take home pay,” Dingyadi said.

He explained that all the proposed allowances and salary structure would be compiled and forwarded to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) and Salary and Wages Commission for vetting and proper scrutiny, adding, “it is, thereafter, that the Accountant General of the Federation will be directed to approve the payment.

“We can see that with this development, the police would be earning a more attractive pay that will be commensurate with what they’re doing. What we expect the police to do after this is to double their efforts and justify the confidence that the President and FEC have vested in them,” the minister said.

The minister may have spoken the minds of many Nigerians who have been analysing the police salary review, asking questions as to whether the new pay, when implemented, would be enough to actually take the officers home.

Read also: Police salary upgrade: Youth group commends Buhari

Checks by BDSUNDAY reveal that a Police Constable on Grade Level 03 earns ₦43,293.83; Police Constable on Grade Level 10 earns ₦49,113.59; Police Corporal on Grade Level 04 (1) earns ₦44,715.53 while Police Corporal on Grade Level 04 (10) earns ₦51,113.59 per month.

For the police constable on grade level 03, going by the above findings, a 20-percent increase in his monthly salary will give him less than N10,000 (about N8,600) for all the noise and the biting impact of inflation and eroded value of the little in his pocket.

This contrasts sharply with what obtains in other jurisdictions including even African countries. In Kenya, for instance, experts say that being a police officer in that country is among the most prestigious professions one can ever get. According to them, the profession comes with status and good standing in the community.

It needs be pointed out, however, that until 2015, their take home pay was not something to write home about. But in that year, the Kenyan police salary was increased by 100 percent – a move that saw many policemen and women celebrating and motivated to work harder.

“This is what we expected the Federal Government of Nigeria to do for the Nigeria police. Feelers I have got from a few of them that are my friends, however, show the entire police establishment is happy with the present development; more so, when it is coming 10 months after the idea was mooted by the government,” Mojekwu Ezediora, a public affairs commentator, noted in a telephone interview.

Ezediora, however, has a number of questions to ask regarding the salary review of the police officers. “Is this increase really a morale booster? he queried, adding, “is the pay raise enough motivation for the police to work harder and square up against rising insecurity in the land?”

He also wondered if the salary review would be enough reason for the police to face real policing work and not motorists at checkpoints which many have described as tollgates for extorting hapless Nigerians of their hard-earned money.

The Police Affairs minister assures that “as a ministry, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that we improve the performance and the relationship between the police and the public to ensure that they justify this good gesture,” but Ezediora says a lot still hangs in the air.

A major cause for concern in the approved salary review, according to him, is that the money for its implementation is not captured in the 2022 budget, meaning that some legislative processes need to be done to make it happen.

But the minister emphasised that, although the proposal may not have been captured in the 2022 Appropriation Bill, it would still be taken care of via a supplementary budget that would be sent later to the National Assembly for approval.

This was corroborated by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who was also at the media briefing, saying that the police wage increase was not part of the 2022 budget proposal of federal government currently before the National Assembly, but also assured that the increase would come into effect once the supplementary budget was approved by the legislative arm.

What seems a source of worry, however, is the finance minister’s assertion, “No, we are not talking about taking effect in January 2022. But the effective date is still January 2022. When all the problems are sorted out there will be supplementary budget sent to the parliament.” This does not give all the hope that January 2022 may be sacrosanct.

A retired police officer, who spoke to BusinessDAY SUNDAY on condition of anonymity, said that the Federal Government deserved commendation, pointing out however, that the good gesture was “long overdue.”

“Naturally, salary increment no matter how small brings joy and happiness. But I am not very confident that the salary raise will take effect in January as promised. My reasons are that for long now, the Federal Government has been taking loans to finance projects; it is still obvious that the financing of the 2022 budget would largely be on loans. Again, government has been having a long drawn-battle with ASUU over financing issues; so, it would be safe to say that government may be biting more than it can chew. I hope you heard that the Federal Government said civil servants should not expect the December salary; that tells you that all is not well. But we are optimistic, promises are bonds,” the retired police officer said.