By Ben Ezeamalu
Most of the operational equipment used by the Nigeria Police Force – Armoured Personnel Carriers, vehicles, body armours, communications equipment and boats – are provided by state governments and the private sector, a new report by the Network of Police Reform in Nigeria has shown.
The report, released Wednesday, highlighted the problems associated with budget preparation and implementation in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
For instance, according to the report, the Force’s budget preparation using a top-down approach leads to a lack of coherence in the budget process.
“Other than salaries, the NPF budget represents a contribution to costs rather than an attempt to fund the NPF,” the report stated.
“Rather than being based on operational needs, the budget is prepared using broad budget headings, with budgets based on increments of the previous year.
“This leads to conflict with the National Assembly, which questions why, for example, the same number of new computers is requested annually. Another example is the annual budget line for the refurbishment of barracks; what barracks have been refurbished?
“As budgets are both inadequate and never released in full, all MDAs are incentivised to inflate budget requests (by line and in total).
“Operational needs are not considered. For example, there is no list of vehicles, no certainty about personnel numbers and no policy on equipment needs, such as minimum equipment per officer.”
For decades, the NPF has been bedeviled by poor funding which has, in turn, resulted in poorly trained, ill-equipped personnel.
A 2008 Presidential Committee on Police Reform headed by M.D Yusuf recommended an estimated N2.8 trillion – or N560 billion annually – to effectively reform and transform the NPF over a period of five years.
Also, the Parry Osayande Committee constituted in 2012 echoed the recommendations of the 2008 committee, adding that police funding should be made a first line charge or a special fund be created to accommodate the needs of the NPF.
In a document presented at the Senate Public Hearing on the bill for the establishment of a Police Trust Fund, Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police, said only N16.1 billion was allocated to the police in 2016 for capital development, out of which N10 billion was released.
Out of the N31.6 billion allocated to the police in the 2017 budget, only N8 billion has so far been released, Mr Idris added.
In addition to the poor funding, the corruption within the NPF had also ensured that almost zero benefits trickle down to the rank and file of the force.
A personnel audit earlier this year uncovered over 80,000 ghost police officers.
The NOPRIN report, in partnership with Konung International Ltd, reflected the opinions of 12 serving and eight retired police officers as well as four nongovernmental organisations and nine others with knowledge of police operations.
The interviews were conducted between November 2017 and February 2018 and were held on unofficial basis as no response was received to a request for a letter of authorisation from the Inspector General of Police, the report said.
“NOPRIN recognises that budgeting is a sensitive subject in Nigeria, a fact which was immediately apparent when many serving officers declined to be interviewed, stating that the subject is too sensitive,” the report stated.
“Several officers who did agree to participate in interviews declined to discuss all budget matters. Other interviewees stated that the interview could only take place because they were no longer employed by the NPF.”
Unlike the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose budgets are analysed by the various embassies and consulates, the report stated, the NPF budgets are not analysed by operational units, zones, states, divisions or police stations.
There are 300,892 police officers as at December 2017, according to the NPF, comprising of core police personnel, traffic wardens, and civilian staff spread across 12 Zones, 37 State Commands and the FCT, 128 Area Commands, 1388 Divisional Commands, 1579 Police Stations, and 3756 Police Posts.
“The budget does not take account of significant funding from state governments, local governments, corporates, individuals or the Lagos State Security Trust Fund,” the report continued.
“The budget does not take account of releases from ‘special funds,’ such as Capital Supplementation or Service Wide Vote.
“One private citizen serving on a community relations committee made the following comments: (i) the budget process is a charade (ii) they have no money to run their activities (iii) they come to us for basic and simplest expenditure and mostly we oblige them (iv) the whole system is dysfunctional.
“One interviewee asked: ‘when the Police Service Commission decides to recruit new police officers, does it understand the financial implications?'”