20% pay rise: Police officers unhappy, indifferent

Posted by News Express | 27 December 2021 | 2,907 times

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•Police officers on parade

 

When President Muhammadu Buhari announced the approval of 20 per cent salary increase for officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) on December 15, there was jubilation and mixed reactions not just among the officers, but also the general public.

The president had through the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, told state house correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting that the review exercise which would take effect from January 2022 was in response to the demands made by EndSARS protesters in 2020, primarily on the improvement of welfare for police officers.

He said the take-home pay would be enhanced through the duty tour allowance to six per cent of their new take-home pay and an approval of N1.12 billion for payment of outstanding uninsured benefits for the period.

However, while many saw the increase as a morale booster for the police to effectively carry out their duties, others feel the salary rise would not make any difference in the rot that has engulfed the force.

For the records, the last time the police had a review of salary was during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and since then nothing has been done as far as salary is concerned.

Before the increase by President Buhari, a police constable earned about N40, 000, meaning that with the increase, a police Constable would be going home with about N50, 000. But while the increment should have been a thing of joy to the rank and file, many are not happy since the increase was not included in the 2022 budget and therefore, see it as a scam. 

Some police officers who spoke to Sunday Sun have mixed feelings about the increase, saying that the problem in the force was more than salary increase.

Some officers who do not want their names mentioned in print for fear of being victimized said that though the salary increase was good, there were more pressing needs in the police especially in the areas of logistics, welfare and others. 

More than the salary increase, many police officers said that they would prefer that government provide them with good  healthcare facility,  scholarship for their children, good and affordable accommodation, transport system,  among other goodies to make their job comfortable.

 

An Inspector of police said: “I heard the president has increased our salary by 20 per cent. Of what use is the increase when it is not included in the 2022 budget? I don’t want to believe in this increase of a thing because if you take a very good look at it, it is not different with our old salary. 

 

“They said they are increasing salary and yet things in the country keep going from bad to worse. Food stuffs are very expensive to the extent that we can no longer afford three square meals for our families. Transport fares have skyrocketed, school fees are no go area not to talk of medicals even in our police hospitals,” he stated.

 

Also speaking, a sergeant said “we know it is not good to collect bribe from people but I tell you sometimes we do that because of pressing circumstances. Imagine you leaving home without giving your wife money to buy food for the family because you sincerely do not have any money and these are some of the things that push one to go into some kind of illegal acts and duties.”

 

On how they have been coping with poor salary structure in the service and how it affects their duties and relationship with EndSARS protest, another policeman who craved anonymity said: “The #EndSARS protest was a real eye opener to us as policemen. The protest opened our eyes to see that the people can be very powerful if they come together to achieve a just cause.

 

“Though we did not like the killing of policemen during the protest, it was very clear to us as police personnel that the people were fighting for our good. They saw the rot, the cheating going on in the service and decided to help us, but unfortunately the whole thing went bad and they started to kill and the killings have not stopped till this moment. 

 

“The lesson I learnt from the whole saga is that there is a limit you can push a person to the wall and you will see the other side of the person and the protest has taught me to be civil in my dealing with people no matter their status,” he said.

 

For Inusa Kura, before the #EndSARS protest, most police officers lobby to be posted to the Southeast to work. But since the protest and the current killings of policemen and burning down of police stations in the zone, nobody wants to serve in that region again.

 

According him, “I will say the EndSARS protest has a good and bad effect on policemen especially because of the killings. Before now, a policeman would lobby his way to get posted to the Southeast region of the country because of what we make there, but since after the process, a policeman would call out to cancel his posting to the Southeast, including consulting his village oracle. All these came about as a result of the EndSARS protest”.

 

For a retired commissioner of police (names withheld): “It is not the salary per se that would determine the good conduct of police officers. They have to go back to the drawing board to see how they can think of a holistic welfare package for them; talking about post retirement housing projects, scholarship scheme for their children and resuscitation of dry ration for patrol teams. A situation where policemen on legal patrol are made to fuel patrol vehicles is not accepted. Buy petrol for patrol vehicles; remove them from the road blocks so that they don’t start seeing all those hardship that they are facing. These are the only things that can stop the #ENDSARS protest.

 

 “The easiest place for you to have confrontation with the police is usually at road blocks, except you look for their trouble and go to their police station and they start harassing you. Apart from that, the main platform where they get involved in all those misconducts is road block. So get all those road blocks off, buy more vehicles for them to patrol the highways so that the level of stress within those period of work would be minimize drastically. 

 

“There is a tipping point for every human being to get fatigued. People are always smarter when their stress level is low, when they have rested, but by the time they pass that level, they become irritated, they become aggressive and any little thing would just trigger them. So those are the areas where I think the government should concentrate on.

 

“Salary is okay, but if you make a comparative study for salaries around sub-Saharan Africa, you will find out that Nigeria is the lowest. But those things can also be mitigated by putting in place policies that if they don’t adhere to it, they know they are going to lose out. 

 

“For instance, scholarship for their children, or if they die, there would be scholarship for their children that they left behind. For instance, how many constables get married to highly educated women like journalists, lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other professionals? How many. They always marry people at their own class, their own level because of their poor salary of N40, 000 and it means that if anything happens to them, it becomes another morale danger. Their allowances would not come on time, all those are the issues.  But once you put into place sanctions and make it clear that they would not be able to access these welfare packages if they go against the rule, they will sit up and stop their irresponsible act. 

 

“So they must put in place those things that would act as a sanction against bad conduct. That is the only thing that can deter any man from violating such rules. For instance, if you know that your organization is paying the school fees of your children, why would you violate set down rules like bribe taking and getting dismissed from the service? I tell you no sane man would do that if he truly loves his children.

 

“Another problem in the police force has to do with the orientation of the men. The orientation of the men is a major problem in the force. Salary is okay, but it does not holistically solve all the problems of the police. 

 

“Again, you cannot be talking about community policing and still having barracks. The barracks are poorly maintained, they are highly unkempt. The police barracks concept is that of the colonial masters where they keep the men and mobilize them at short notices in case of crisis. But the times have changed. There is nowhere in the world where they have police barracks. They live with the people, their children attend the same school with the people, they go to the same shopping mall, that’s why that way they are forging on and building that trust and breaking the gap. Go and look at our police barracks, they are not habitable for any human being. So let’s see if there will be improvement with the salary increase,” he said.

 

On his part, a former Inspector General of police, Solomon Arase,  wants the government to take another look at the healthcare delivery system in the police especially for the rank and file and their dependants; scholarship for their children, good housing accommodation, among other packages are things that would end up dousing all these negative attitudes. 

 

He said: “I believe that we should look beyond the salaries, we should look at other areas too. It is well for the police to do all those menial jobs for the political elite, but when the chips are down, nobody cares. Look at the way they kill policemen, behead them and do all manner of things to their dead bodies and nobody has been arrested for those gruesome acts.

 

“Scholarship for their children, good healthcare for the rank and file and their dependants if all these are in place and there are infractions , it means that the person automatically loses access to those facilities. I think these would serve as a good conduct. So, good health care services for inspectors and rank and file, and review of the various police reforms from 1999 to date,” he added.

 

Another policeman,  who simply gave his name as Mohammed when asked about the 20 per cent salary increase, said he was not aware of it,  but that he heard his colleagues talking about it and doubted if it was true or not.

 

The police sergeant, who tried to find out if the story was true or one of those social media rumors said “I heard that the president increased our salary, but that it is not plenty, but I know it is one of those promises and tricks by politicians to confuse us because another election is coming. I say it is a truck because I also heard that they did not put the money inside next year’s budget and that is intentional. They purposely removed it from the budget of next year so that they will put it in 2023 and that is an election year to confuse us to go and risk our lives for them to occupy big, big offices. The truth is that my sister, whether they increase our salary or not, it will not change anything because as we speak you know how much they sell gas now?”

 

For Dahiru Danjuma, the hardship faced by him and his colleagues since the present administration came to power is unbelievable. Apart from the hardship, he said the number of policemen that have been killed since this administration came to power has never happened in the history of the police. 

 

To him, the 20 per cent increase is nothing to write home about and should not be something to use to praise the achievements of the Buhari’s government. He said, “When I heard that government increased our salary by 20 per cent, I laughed because if you look at it for those of us that our salary is less that N40,000, it means what they added is about N8,000. Is that something to be happy about? And another thing again is that we don’t even know if this their increase is for everybody because since the day that I heard it on television nobody has told us anything because they don’t have anything to tell us before they put themselves in trouble with policemen.”

Also a police inspector who does not want to be mentioned in print said “I heard about the salary increase, but I don’t think it’s for everybody, maybe it is for inspectors and the rank and file. That is what I want to believe because after the announcement by our police minister, I have not heard anything again and that may be because they did not include it in the budget next year. 

 

“But the truth of the matter is that increasing our salary by 20 per cent, would cause more problem for us because of the harsh economic conditions in the country. I am from the North and grains are our major food because we use it as the people from the East use garri and it used to very cheap because it was sold for as cheap as N80 per mudu. But today a mudu of corn is selling for as high as N500, so tell me, what good will the 20 per cent salary increase do to us if not problems,” he said.

 

But for Danlami Bukar, “the salary increase is a good thing by the Buhari’s government and I want to thank him very well. If other presidents have been increasing the salaries of policemen, the rot that we have in our system today would have been reduced. But I want to beg the president to please include it in next year’s budget so that we can smile like the politicians.”

(Daily Sun)


Source: News Express

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