Thursday, May 31, 2018

Arabisation Of The Nigeria Police?

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
As though to prove the sceptics wrong, the country suffers no deficit of evidence of its descent into anomie. This is underscored by the fact that what seems only plausible in the provenance of macabre fantasy easily becomes reality.

It sounds implausible that a country and its leaders would do nothing while citizens are being killed and pillaged. But this is the reality in Nigeria - Fulani herdsmen are busy raping, maiming and killing citizens. 
Even places of worship that should have served as refuge from bloodlust and plunder have become the prized targets of the herdsmen.
As long as they are not deterred by the prospect of justice, they do not conceal their sacrilegious audacity: Let grass grow on the altar, they would graze their cattle there.
But the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to appreciate the apocalypse all this portends.
This refusal or bare complicity has now found expression in the fertilisation of the imagination of those who churn out divisive agendas.
Now, they have gone beyond just the privileging of one religion in a multi-religious society.
It is such privileging that has paved the way for the dominance of the nation’s security apparatus by people from the tribe and religion of Buhari.
It is what has also entrenched the religious bigotry of Muslims who would kill adherents of other religions simply because the latter are eating while the former are fasting as in the case of Francis Emmanuel in Kaduna in 2016.
Or simply because the former cannot brook the latter preaching as in the case of Eunice Elisha in Abuja in 2016. In this atmosphere, it is difficult to sift the probable from the improbable.
This is why an alleged conspiracy for the dominance of the police by northern Muslims is easily peddled not only on the social media but also in its mainstream counterpart.
The recent police recruitment examination that ought to be another opportunity for the affirmation of the oneness of all the citizens is said to have been turned into a breeding ground for divisiveness.
It has been said that the Buhari government and its proxies have demonstrated that they do not care about the unity of the country by making Arabic language compulsory for both Muslims and Christians in the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Computer Based Test (CBT) for recruitment into the Nigeria Police.
They are said to have demonstrated their insensitivity to the combustible character of religion in the country.
According to the Christian Association of Nigeria( CAN), in the examination, a candidate was required to answer 180 questions: Use of English 60, Arabic language 40, Fine Arts 40, and Agriculture 40.
Worse, this allegation is coming shortly after there was so much controversy over the removal of Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) as a subject in the curriculum of secondary schools.
While CRK lost its distinctiveness after being merged with civic education, Arabic studies remained as a subject that Christian students were doomed to take as a subject since French which was the option might not have enough teachers to ensure its availability.
It was after so much protest from outraged Christian leaders and other citizens that culminated in the officials of the CAN going to Aso Rock that the government deemed it necessary to retrace its steps from the path of stoking religious tension and restored CRK as a subject.
The Police Service Commission (PSC) and JAMB have denied the alleged perfidy that was said to be a well-scripted conspiracy against the Christian candidates to deny them recruitment into the police .
Even if the allegation were true, it would not be out of sync with recruitment into the police. This is because the police in recent times do not hold a stellar record of adhering to the demands of transparency in their recruitment.
Rather, the process has been so much skewed in favour of corruption that only the audaciously depraved find their way into the police.
Thus, there have been allegations of recruitment going to the highest bidder or those with the right nepotistic ties.
Regularly, we are confronted with the tragic consequences of this development: the police officer pulls his trigger to express his displeasure at a bus driver who refuses to be extorted of N50; the policeman is the hired assassin who is ready to do the bidding of a politician; and the police only respond to a distressed citizen when the armed robber has fled the scene of crime.
Let us make allowance for the possibility that the police have been engaged in a search for answers to the numerous security questions plaguing our society.
In that case, Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, might just have ferreted out some crime-fighting secrets of the ancient and contemporary Arab culture that were irrevocably hidden from past leaders.
The police need a transparent recruitment that would attract the best and highly motivated from every part of the country.
The police should be concerned about how to improve the welfare of their personnel.
They should make a compelling case for improved welfare in the place of their poor salaries and their shabby barracks.
They should fight for the upgrade of their weapons instead of the outdated ones that make them vulnerable to being mowed down with much more sophisticated weapons of criminals.
No doubt, there is the need to increase the manpower of the police. Yes, the number of police personnel we have now is inadequate to meet the security needs of the citizens.
Far below the recommendation of the United Nations of 222 policemen to 100,000 citizens, we have only about 370,000 police personnel who are responsible for the security of over 180 million Nigerians and their property.
Even the few police personnel we have are being deployed to discharge unprofessional and menial duties such as the polishing of shoes and the holding of bags and umbrellas of politicians and their wives.
The rest are sent to guard the ill-gotten property of the same politicians.
The citizens are thus left to cater to their security needs by themselves. But the Buhari government should realise the need to go beyond just recruiting more personnel if it is serious about effective policing.
It must come to terms with the now persistent argument that the nation is at a stage where the effective protection of life and property cannot be divorced from the decentralisation of the police.
It should align itself with the clamour for state policing so that states or regions can better take care of their security needs.
In a nation where Buhari made a broadcast in Hausa, we cannot rule out the possibility of police recruitment being conducted in Arabic language.
Then the defence was that the audience was strictly Hausa; it was not meant for all Nigerians.
Even if Buhari decides to make a national broadcast in Arabic, he might still have his way.
After all, he might just rebuff all attempts to make him see reason and maintain his aloofness as he has demonstrated in the case of the unrelieved carnage by herdsmen in the country.
In that case, when Buhari can no longer bear the justified pummelling from the citizens, he might wince and release a statement to exculpate himself of complicity in the imposition of Arabic language on the citizens.
In the long run, the task that Buhari is likely to fail is that of creating an atmosphere in the nation where the mutual suspicion that bred the alleged Arabic language examination is not possible.
This is evidenced by his refusal to review the leadership of the security agencies despite the glaring fact that it reeks of religion and ethnocentrism.
So whether the PSC or JAMB denied the report or not, it does not change anything.
Nigerians are still likely to believe in the future alleged conspiracies for the Arabisation of not only the police but the entire country as long as Buhari nurtures the atmosphere for them.
*Dr. Onomuakpokpo is on the Editorial Board of The Guardian 

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