By: Innocent Okon
Chinua Achebe decades ago, identified Nigeria’s problem as leadership! In his treatise: THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA, Achebe observed that the political firmament of the country was unfortunately held captive by a clique who regarded plum leadership positions as a pension and gratuity for whatever sacrifices they made to secure flag independence for Nigeria. If the writer and patriot were to be alive, possibly he would have added lack of foresight as one of the terminal ailments ravaging our body polity!
The privileged few in positions of power, authority and influence have this penchant of proffering ad-hoc prescriptions to cancerous ailments! General Yakubu Gowon in the 70s as a military leader, made armed robbery a capital offence. Notorious robbers like Oyenusi were tried and sentenced to death! Nigerians living in Lagos were always invited to watch the execution of condemned robbers at the Bar Beach in Lagos.
Little or no thought was given to the irreparable damage this public savagery was doing to our psyche and humanity. The attendant fall-out was that armed robbers graduated from the conventional threat of “your money or your life ” to “your money and your life”! Maybe if more thinking was given to the psycho-sociological effects of making a public show of death sentence, the society would have been better for it.
The recent spate of bloodletting in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna and Zamfara States have exhumed the rested thought of State Police to the front burner again! The Senate has indicated interest in the subject once again as the possible elixir that would purge mindless killings from the land.
I beg to differ. Establishing a State Police under the management and control of State Governors is a disguised constitutional invitation to anarchy and threat to our corporate existence! Only few Governors would resist the urge to fund the state police at the expense of other overwhelming priorities in their states.
The state policemen of course would be better trained and equipped to match the Federal Police in an event of confrontation! Thought must also be given to what would happen in an event of a boundary dispute between two states. The better equipped and kitted state police would definitely over run the weaker state! This portends grave danger to our vaunted unity and existence as a nation state.
Governors from the school of governance of leaders like Rochas Okorocha would not resist the privilege of appointing their sons-in-law, sisters and blood relations to commanding positions in the proposed state police! At the end, the gains will be negligible when reconciled with the political and socioeconomic dislocations.
Methinks, the country cannot afford another constitutional vampire in the garb of a State Police! The glamour for a State independent electoral commission was painted in an attractive colour like the State Police; today many are advocating for a return to status quo ante. Let’s be wiser with the benefit of hindsight! We need political will to address the killings more than a State Police!
Okon is Akwa Ibom-born journalist/legal practitioner