Blind recruitment

Hardball

News that the Presidency has ordered the Ministry of Police Affairs to recruit 4000,000 personnel into the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to tackle manpower shortage is puzzling. Head of Press and Public Relations Unit of the ministry, Odutayo Oluseyi, in a statement said already the minister, Mohammed Dingyadi, has set up a 13-man Ministerial Project Coordination Committee to conduct the recruitment.

Based on a document titled, “Delivering on government’s priorities 2019-2023,” it is reported that , “The police affairs ministry was assigned specific priorities and deliverables including full implementation of the Community Policing Policy, the recruitment of additional 400,000 policemen across the country, establishment of a Federal Public-Private Security Trust Fund amongst others.” It is unclear how many policemen are supposed to be recruited per year, based on the plan.

This development ahead of the December 4 date fixed by the Federal High Court in Abuja to deliver judgment in a suit challenging the recruitment of 10,000 police constables by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, adds a twist to the story. The Police Service Commission (PSC) had taken the IGP and the NPF to court over the recruitment of 10,000 constables as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The commission had asked the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from “appointing, recruiting or attempting to appoint or recruit by any means whatsoever any person into any office by the NPF pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.” The plaintiff also argued that none of the respondents is authorised by law to play any role in “the appointment, promotion, dismissal or exercise of disciplinary measures over persons holding or aspiring to hold offices in the Nigeria Police Force.” The commission described the NPF’s move as a flagrant usurpation of the functions and powers of the PSC.

There is no doubt that Nigeria needs more policemen. The United Nations (UN) standard of policing says one policeman to 400 citizens, but Nigeria is said to have one policeman to 600.

It is good to have more policemen policing the country, but recruitment should not blind the authorities to the problem of training.  Where will the recruits be trained? How will the recruits be trained?  In 2016, the then Commandant, Police Staff College, Jos, Plateau State, Mr. Joseph Mbu, an Assistant Inspector General (AIG), observed:  “Our police colleges, both senior and junior are in very bad state. Most of the structures you see there are dilapidated and the issue of poor staffing is also there…We need good facilities and atmosphere to make them better policemen.” The example of the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, will suffice. Built to accommodate 700 trainees, it reportedly housed over 2, 554 occupants as at January 2013.

The point is that recruiters should think beyond the narrow and simplistic focus on recruitment.

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