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By Julius Oweh
Two issues define our country as running unitary system of government. They are the resource control and the police system. The name Federal Republic of Nigeria is a misnomer as states and local government council run to Abuja for what a wit appropriately described as feeding bottle federation. Even more absurd is the title given to state governor as chief security officer of the state when even a DPO cannot take order from the state governor. The recent example was that of the Lagos State governor when DPO told him point blank that he could only take orders from the Commissioner of Police or the police headquarters in Abuja.
Therefore is a thing of joy that the House of Representatives is currently working on a bill to make provision for state police to coexist with the federal police. According to the bill, is to make room for state police to enhance the security for Nigerians. It is a reality that the present police force cannot cater for the security of Nigerians and that the country is yet to meet the UN ratio of one police to four hundred citizens. The southern governors are very happy that their northern counterparts now back the call for state police. Those who opposed the establishment of Amotekun in the South West and Ebube Agu in the South East now realize the importance of regional or state police.
The Northern Elders Forum has also thrown its weight behind State police. A spokesman for the group Dr Hakeen Baba-Ahmed said thus :I dont think it is a bad idea and it should be made flexible for states that don’t need it or cannot afford it to opt out and therefore depend on the federal police…. The federal government cannot continue to shoulder the burden of policing in this country. The views of Afenifere, the pan Yoruba group on state police is well known and a strong advocate for state police. Speaking recently, the national publicity secretary of Afenifere, Comrade Jare Ajayi maintained thus :This is a good thing. The House of Representatives is already in the process of amending the constitution to allow state police. It is a very good thing because it is in line with the restructuring we are talking about`.
Now that both the north and south agree that there is need for state police, the ball is in the court of the national assembly to do the needful and speed up the process of getting the much awaited state police. Its powers should be well structured so that it does not clash with the federal police and other security operatives. Both should work in collaboration in crime detection and prevention. However, my fear is that the state governors shall turn the state police into security apparatus to harass political opponents. I will present a variety of reasons that gave birth to my fears and worries.
Firstly, the conduct of elections into the local government council is a clear testimony that our governors are not democrats but dictators. Check the whole country and show me a state where the opposition political parties control the council by production of chairmen and councilors. There is no exception. Both the PDP and APC are guilty. If state governors cannot allow the fertilization of opposing political views, what is the guarantee that they would not do the same thing to state police? Those who refused to conduct credible elections at the local government are the most vocal opponents of INEC in the conduct of state and federal elections. Should INEC descend to their gutter level of intolerance, which will be the end of our democratic experience? Even in the administration of the council, the third tier of governance is seen as a department of the state. If you are in doubt, explain to me what the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy affair is doing? Even the state legislators were against the autonomy of the local government areas.
Another argument against state police is the use of the state own media houses especially the electronic ones. Such media houses rarely run reports on the opposition parties the way the NTA and Radio Nigeria do. Furthermore, the uses of stadium by the opposition parties are denied them. The state government is yet to learn from the magnanimity of the federal government in the use of Eagle Square by the opposition political parties. If we must get state police, our state governors must grow up beyond their political prism and be statesmen in deed and in truth. Therefore the greatest obstacle against state police is the state governor. It is the supplication of this piece, our governors would learn the fine ropes of democracy that allows for the cross fertilization of ideas and nobody should be punished for having different political views. The recent disruption of Peter Obi rally in Ebonyi state is a case in point.
We need state police to curb the security challenges peculiar to each state. But in the process our governors should not adorn the robes of emperors. They are elected governors and should act in that wise. I quake for the existence of state police.


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