Nigeria is woefully under-policed, leaving Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai to wonder why some of the nation's cops who should be battling criminals and bandits, are often pictured carrying the bags of wives of politicians or Very Important Persons (VIPs).
At other times, police officers can be seen holding aloft umbrellas for politicians and their spouses at events and at airport terminals--while getting drenched, exposed and sunbathed themselves.
“The number of policemen we have in Nigeria is inadequate; it is less than half of what we need and a lot of them are engaged in non-police duties like carrying the handbags of the wives of very important people," El-Rufai fumed during a programme on ChannelsTV.
Most state governors have repeatedly called for state and local policing, as opposed to the current arrangement where the police is controlled by the federal government.
El-Rufai whose state of Kaduna is always in the news for unrest stoked by bandits and religious extremists, called on the federal government to decentralise the police command and for the legislature to amend the constitution accordingly.
“We’ve always made a very strong argument that one centralised police in a federation does not work. Nigeria is the only country in the world that is a federation that has only one police force.
“We have made the argument that states should be allowed to have their own police and that even local governments should be allowed to have their own community policing.
“We need to have a large footprint of policing in Nigeria and the only way to achieve that in a fast-track manner is to amend the constitution and put police on the concurrent list as recommended by the APC True Federalism Committee so that we have more policing," he said.
The governor also said most states are responsible for the logistics and equipment of a federally controlled police force.
“In any case today, more state governments are responsible for the running cost of the police. The federal government only pays the salaries of the policemen but the running cost, the logistics, their vehicles, their fuel are all the responsibilities of state governments.
“So, what are we afraid of? Let us just amend the constitution and allow state policing and in fact, go further and allow the local governments to have their own police. That way, we will have more security footprints,” El-Rufai added.
The United Nations recommends that there should be one police officer to 400 citizens in any country.
Nigeria has about 300,000 police officers securing over 190 million citizens.
Successive police bosses have announced the withdrawal of police personnel attached to VIPs, but the practice hasn't abated in the least.