Since the black Friday of the 20th of January 2012, the city of Kano has remained a militarized zone and a security fortress of some sorts. Not in terms of having a secured environment that ensures full protection from the activities of Boko Haram insurgents. Rather, in terms of the fact that everyday inhabitants of the city have to undergo a series of checks at gunpoint whenever they went out to perform their normal day-to-day activities. It is also within the premises of such a situation that a brother of mine who is an ardent supporter of Barcelona Football Club, to the extent of attaching the logo of the Spanish giants and current champions league holders on his car, sought my advise as to whether he should remove the insignia of the Catalonia-based outfit, When I asked why, he stated that the security personnel at the checkpoints frown at vehicles having bold B inscriptions, inferring that that identification with the famous soccer club is nothing more than a veiled attempt at showing loyalty to the violent religious sect.
Knowing my brother’s capacity to play pranks on me and being aware of his street smart nature, I just laughed off the advisory inquiry and instructed him to never descend to the level of acting on unverified rumours and unfounded speculations. As I informed him that no matter how low a level the Nigerian police have descended, it is preposterous for a national security outfit of a constitutional magnitude to equate showing loyalty to a football club with belonging to a highly indoctrinated religious sect, which never fails to show and pledge aversion to things and acts that are fundamentally western in orientation. And as according to such group’s belief system, as the United States of America represents the epitome of imperialist decadence, so does identification with the Barcelona football club avails a creeping though evident loss of our long cherished and molded religious values. As such I asserted that it could never be even within the realm of probability for a professional organization like the Nigerian police to assume an umbilical cord association nor similarity between the two outfits.
I was proved wrong. As I went out for the day early last week, I passed through a checkpoint immediately before Murtala House, the most famous structure in Kano and a spot that approximately equates the centre of the city, which was in fact attacked last week because of its close proximity to the Kano residence of the new acting Inspector General of the Police. When I stopped for the mandatory check of my vehicle, which includes peering at the insides of the car and a close examination of the contents of the car boot. I was still asked to pull over for further checks, upon which I was asked to present my driver’s license for scrutiny. I passed the test for my particulars were intact. However, as those things were happening, the officer asked me to buy him pure water, which I took literally by beckoning on the boys selling sachet water. But a look at the officer’s eyes compelled me to send the approaching hawker away and immediately performed as I should.
Actually a little enquiry was also taking place immediately beside me. An officer was querying a motorcycle rider on why he was wearing a Barcelona T-shirt, with a bold B alphabet emblazoned all over its front. What was happening right before my eyes was shocking. My jaw literally dropped in anger, disgust and utter amazement, for surely this is no time for an officer of the law to indulge in unnecessary pestilence. I just couldn’t understand why a man would resort to chasing rats while his whole residential abode is on fire. As far as I am concerned, the task of tackling a violent insurgency far outweighs any other unnecessary proclivities. As it turned out the officer was a sore Real Madrid fan, seeking to use the might of his uniform to further the interest of his beloved football club and suppress the fans of its rivals.
However, upon continuing with my journey, an announcement on the car radio jolted my attention back to the events that occurred at the checkpoint. The two spokesmen of the Kano Joint Military and Police Security Task Force issued a rebuttal, on the rising complaints against abusive tendencies of members of the task force. In fact, the military spokesman was vehement in condemning such a scenario, affirming that it is Kano state government that is solely funding the budget of the security outfit, through payment of allowances and other administrative charges to an organ of state that is strictly performing its primary function of protecting Nigeria from external and internal threats. Indeed, during the budget season I was one of those that strenuously complained about the gargantuan size of the security expenditure allocation, which is over 922 billion naira and cumulatively more than the projected spending in 12 key ministries.
The situation of the Nigerian security arrangement is worrisome. The problem is either with the intricate administrative systems that deprive agencies of allocated funds or by the type of indoctrination officers of the agencies imbibe. There is also a problem regarding the training operatives receive via-a-vis modern ethos of tackling newer and sophisticated crimes.
There is therefore an urgent need for a thoroughly holistic reform of the Nigerian Police Force in particular and other security agencies to weed out the evident corruption, apparent disorganization and ineptitude afflicting them.