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23rd December, 2005

Lagos State National Conscience Party

DEPLOYMENT OF ADDITIONAL 6000 POLICE OFFICERS IN LAGOS STATE

On Monday December 19 2005, President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, gave a directive that additional 6,000 police officers be deployed to Lagos State. This decision according to President Obasanjo became necessary because of the deplorable security situation in the former Nigerian capital. Ipso facto, this deployment is expected to curb the high rate of crimes in the state and make the nation’s commercial hub attractive to investors.

 

According to newspaper reports the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, has been asked to support the increased police presence in the State with such logistics as speedboat, communication gadgets, accommodation for the personnel etc.

 

Outwardly, this directive appears well intended and well thought out in proposition. However, a critical scientific evaluation of the issue of crimes and preventions, as well as the history of Nigerian Police records in combating crimes, clearly shows that this latest directive will never be able to achieve any of the laudable objectives claimed to have necessitated it in the first place. Sadly, but most likely, the worrisome epidemic rise in social crimes and vices is merely being used by the Obasanjo led PDP capitalist government with a design to foist its unpopular anti-poor economic and political agenda on the working people.

 

First and foremost, the deplorable epidemic rise in crimes such as armed robbery, fraud, stealing, assassination etc, and social problems such as mass youth prostitution, drug abuse, examination malpractices etc are no accident. They are the direct consequences of the pro- rich, anti-poor policies of the present capitalist ruling class, which have permanently condemned the vast majority to a life of perpetual want, poverty and deprivation with no prospect of escape. Most provocatively, this mass poverty coexists side by side with a tiny layers of the people in society, who have managed to corner for themselves, in varying degrees, the resources which ought to be used to cater for the interest of all. The point should therefore be stressed that it is the existence of this dubious class of the rich that constitutes a living testimony that crimes pay and why many youths and elements in the society will not think twice before committing crimes. Therefore, as long as this deplorable condition remains, there is no amount of security officers engaged to police the society that will be able to curtail fundamentally the deplorable epidemic rise in crimes.

 

The President was said to have asked the Inspector General of Police to provide "logistics support such as speedboats, communication gadgets, accommodation for the personnel" etc. Again outwardly this request gives the impression that the President means business. However, a critical analysis of the situation on ground, as well as the presidential request in this respect, clearly reveal that the president’s latest directive may turn out to be no more than another political soap box gymnastic.

 

First, the wages and living conditions of the existing members of the police force in Lagos State and throughout the country are very, very deplorable and dehumanising. Therefore, deploying an additional, presumably better-paid and better-equipped, 6,000 police officers in the prevailing situation will not fundamentally change the conditions of policing in Lagos State for the better. Secondly, the newspapers merely reported that the Inspector General of Police was asked to provide the above-enumerated logistics. However, certain pertinent questions must be asked in respect of these strange requests. Has adequate and additional resources been provided to the Inspector General of Police to implement this new directive? Was this expenditure budgeted for in the year 2005 budget? If yes, why did the President have to wait till December 19, 2005 before directing the IGP to do it? If not budgeted for in year 2005 budget, has provision been made in the year 2006 budget for the extra expenditure in policing Lagos State? If not where does the Inspector General of Police expect to get the necessary resources to ensure that the additional 6,000 police officers being deployed to Lagos State?

 

We are bold to say that unless the above stated posers are satisfactorily resolved, the deployment of additional 6,000 police officers in Lagos State will only in the medium and long term aggravate the security situation in Lagos State. As on similar occasions in the past, most of the officers deployed will be living under tarpaulins in the numerous dilapidated police stations across the State. The ever inadequate out of station allowances normally paid to security operatives posted outside their own normal places of employment will never be paid as at when due. Consequently, the additional police officers in the given circumstances will only constitute additional burden on the democratic and human rights of the poor masses through violent extortion of money as they struggle daily to eke out a living allowances for themselves.

 

OUR DEMANDS

 

We demand that the huge resources being raked in from oil sales and other sources of revenue be committed to massive public expenditure on food production, affordable and descent housing for all, functional and adequate health care for all, public funded and functional education for all at all levels, etc. This approach, we believe, will help to create jobs for the tens of millions that are currently jobless and at the same time help to relieve undue pressure by family members and relations on the few that are working. We equally hasten to add that this approach will drastically reduce all forms of social vices. Anything short of this approach will only elongate and deepen the current vicious cycle where a small fraction of the hungry and jobless youths are armed to wage wars on the vast majority of the hungry but harmless jobless youths in the name of effective policing.

 

We in the Lagos State NCP therefore insist on adequate logistics back up and decent remuneration of those to be deployed as well as those of the exiting police officers in the State be sorted out first and foremost before the proposed deployment is effected. This is the only way to avert the inevitable but avoidable loss of lives that usually occurs from the police personnel’s in their desperate search to keep body and soul together. A stitch in time saves nine.

 

More importantly, we call for the management and control of police and its activities by the working people of communities whose lives and properties they are ostensibly meant to secure. Without this the additional police officers, as past and recent experiences have shown, will only succeed in providing more armed personnel at the disposal of those in government to be used to suppress opposition to their policies and for their self-serving political gains like electoral riggings and manipulations. We recall that special police squads like "Operation Sweep" under Colonel Bubar Marwa’s administration in Lagos State that were originally established to curb crimes only ended up being used as vicious apparatus of repression against opposition to military misrules. Also recently, the police unleashed terror on the harmless "Concerned Mothers of Nigeria" who were protesting at the official ineptitude of government that has claimed several lives in the last two months. This is a bad omen of what to expect from a government that has zero tolerance for opposition as its bid to perpetuate self in power is becoming unpopular and will surely attract massive resistance from the working people.

 

Once again, we in Lagos State NCP call on the Trade Unions, LASCO, PRONACO, UAD, DSM, etc and all pro-masses organisations to urgently convoke a conference to work out a strategy of how to create a working peoples’ political and economic alternatives to the prevailing hopelessness which is the permanent lot of the working masses under capitalism. If a viable mass working peoples’ political platform with an outright and anti-capitalist pro-masses programme and activities is put in place, most of the youths and other elements that presently see no other viable alternative to the prevailing ruinous, individualistic manners of survival such as crimes, prostitution, etc can be rapidly won over to the perspective of struggle for edifying social emancipation and political liberation. In other words, if there develops now, a mass working peoples’ organisation that daily fights for the economic needs and political rights of the working masses, this will go a long way to give hope to millions of jobless youths and the poor in general that there is a more dignifying way of winning a struggle for basic means of living without engaging a self-destructive crimes and social vices. Without this kind of development, crimes will not only persist but become deepen and hydra-headed in the immediate medium and long-term periods.

 

To be forewarned is to be forearmed!

 

 

Segun Sango

Chairman Lagos State NCP