By Bayo Oluwasanmi
In the Chinese picture-letter alphabet, symbol for crisis is a combination of two characters – one meaning “danger” and the other “opportunity.” You can look at it either way.
Nigeria is beset with smorgasbord of problems. The same analogy of the Chinese picture-letter alphabet can be applied to the Nigerian case.
Problems that appear intractable, scary, intimidating, and draining will be viewed by wise and progressive leaders as an opportunity to serve and lead.
Problems can lead to growth or grumbling. It all depends on the response. And getting into hot water every often has a way of keeping a person clean.
Consider this: Nelson Mandela saw problem – Apartheid – as well as opportunity – liberation of his people.
He chose to stand for something rather than fall for nothing. He was imprisoned for 27 years. Apartheid became history. He went from being a prisoner to a president.
A nation like an individual, wants progress. And what is progress? Progress is getting closer to the place where you want to be or where the nation wants to be as in the case of Nigeria.
If a nation along its journey toward progress has taken a wrong turning, then to go forward becomes difficult if not impossible and does not get such a country closer to where it has to go.
But if a nation is on the wrong road and wants to make progress, it means making an about-turn and walking back to the right road. The soonest it turns back, the more progress she makes.
Part of a survival plan is to hold up rather than fold up in the midst of problems. But the politicians in charge of Nigeria are like people glancing faces in a mirror. They see themselves, walk away, and forget what they look like.
The bodies of evidence against the people who are in charge of our store house confirm that in all our problem areas they fold up instead of hold up.
No doubt, they are painfully familiar with the self-created problems and self inflicted calamities caused by their greed and corruption that are crippling the country.
They circle around the problems, pretend as if they’re doing something about the problems. They close their eyes, shut their ears, block their noses, hold their breaths, and walk away. It’s business as usual.
The videos titled “Nigeria Police College: On the Brink of Collapse” contain investigative report by Channels TV, Lagos on Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, has gone viral in the social media.
The Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, Lagos is the premier police college in the country.
The Channels TV correspondent, Ayoola Kasim, at the entrance of the college said: “If you look at the Premier Police College from here (outside) it is hard to imagine the state of things on the inside.”
Then she weaves her way through the cluster of buildings to open up the bowels as it were, of littered, jumbled, jambled, and ram shackled buildings.
The buildings look fidgety, collapsible, rusty, dusty, and dying that you can easily mistake it for Nigeria’s icon ghetto – Ajegunle. It’s a death dungeon called Police College!
Continued her reporting, Kasim said “And when one is granted the opportunity to come in, the complex look good for the visitor to assume that all is well within the college.”
Students were herded in a classroom that could easily pass for a warehouse. A shack, dingy, classroom with falling ceilings serves as makeshift lecture room that also functions as the cafeteria.
Students sit skin-to-skin in overcrowded classroom like sardine-packed cows being transported in a rickety truck from far away Kano to Lagos.
Nothing resembles a classroom where meaningful, rigorous academic training in crime prevention and detection, safety and security, and general policing is taking place.
“When it comes to the training facilities, much is left to be desired,” Kasim said. “But between the office walls things are real bad,” continues Kasim. “The office of the officer in charge of works can only boast of a typewriter and a damaged chair,” says Kasim.
I see a lady toiling laboriously, banging her fingers on the key board of a typewriter which looks like one of the first generation of IBM (or is it Brother?) typewriters.
The noise of the strokes on the keyboard sounds like the rumbling locomotive engine of the newly refurbished 19th century coaches of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
A good manicure of the lady’s fingers will be necessary at the end of the day to restore the shape and beauty of her fingers.
Kester Ifeadi the building consultant sounds so despondent about the learning environment of the police college.
“Of course learning facility is the key. We don’t have learning facilities here. We use cafeteria as lecture rooms. This is supposed to be the premier police college. It is terrible… unbelievable,” says Ifeadi.
“When it comes to the driving school,” Kasim alerts her listeners, “the college has seen better days.”
The driving school defies any adjective that can adequately describe the school.
No one can say for sure the type/model/year of the abandoned vehicle in the driving school. It looks like the relics of weapons of war jettisoned by Pharaoh and its army amidst the Red Sea.
The Olympic size swimming pool lay bare with nothing that suggests swimming or pool. It’s dried, dead and dead!
“Since the establishment of the college there has been no development or renovation,” says a worry-looking elderly Jonah Mavah, the Deputy Commandant of the college.
“The intention of the white people is have everything on ground, Olympic size swimming pool, and good water system. The facilities were good. Now all the facilities are overstretched,” says Mavah.
According to Mavah, the college was originally designed to accommodate 700 students. It now serves 2, 500 cadets.
“The college that used to have the best shooting range in the region now cannot boast of any,” says Kasim.
The library looks like a stuffed flea market for used books.
“The staff of the college reluctantly told me they cannot remember the last time books were purchased by the library,” says Kasim.
“Outdated books are all you can find in the library. The only books you can find are in the 1970s, no computers, and no internet. You can see how I’m sweating here, no air condition, no fan,” says Kasim.
The college dorms are in equal dilapidated, worn-out, dangerous and toxic state. It should be the last place for human habitation. It looks like abandoned refugee camp now populated by mammals of different species.
“This is the male dormitory 10 built by colonial masters in the 1940s,” says Kasim.
The building is an empty shell with no windows, no doors, no electricity, with water on the floor and leaks all over the place.
The building resembles a bullet riddled building from a long ago civil war campaign.
The students look like animals that are out of their caves for a brief respite. The dorm is adorned with beds propped up with bricks to avoid falling apart.
Blood stained mosquito nets form mushroom-shaped clouds over student’s beds.
To say the toilets and the bathrooms are dirty is being over generous. Looking at the pictures, one can literally smell the oozing stench of hazardous fumes.
The female dormitory is no different either.
Prolonged viewing of the pictures can give you nausea anesthesia!
The surroundings serve as toileting facilities. Students roam freely to urinate openly without hesitation. Meals are also served in the same open space.
According to Kasim, each student is fed on N150 per day.
Plastic buckets like ones used for excrements contained students’ meals. Students scramble for a piece of the meal. I can see students dividing/ sharing meats, stew, eba or amala.
How can police students trained for 13 months under the ordeal situation reported above come out with the best intentions? How can they give their best to the country?
Without the required training, skill, and the psychology how would they fight crimes and protect the public?
The Ikeja Police College is a shame of a nation!
Nigeria’s Police began with a 30-member consular guard formed in Lagos Colony in 1861. In 1879, a 1,200-member armed paramilitary constabulary was formed.
In 1896, the Lagos Police was established. The force known as NPF (Nigeria Police Force) was formed in 1930 when northern and southern Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914.
The Ikeja Police College is a typical example of our corrupt system. It shows how the people are deceived and betrayed.
The humiliating acts of the Nigerian government are not only corrupt but corrupted.
In the 2013 fiscal budget year, N311 billion ($1.99 billion) was appropriated for the Nigerian Police.
A total of N2.046 billion from 2009-2012 was allocated for police colleges and training institutions:
2009 – N700 million, 2010 – N759 million, 2011 – N291 million, and 2012 – N296 million.
What happened to the annual budgets for police affairs? What was the money spent on? Where did the money go?
What’s the role of the minister for police affairs? When was the last time he was on tour of duty of police colleges in the country? What did he do with the money? How was the money disbursed?
Do we have a police commission? If so, what’s the job description? What about the IG of police? What’s his role in all this?
Isn’t it time we decentralized the Lugard outfit called Nigerian Police Force (NPF)? What’s wrong with every state and local government having their police force? Is the NPF too big to be split? Who is afraid of the split? What do we have to lose by balkanizing NPF?
The legislators have failed us. They are mercenary and selfish. Our own democracy has proved impossible and corruption inevitable.
Because politics is business, that’s what’s wrong with it.
The spirit of politicians is profit, not patriotism, of credit, not honor, of individual gain, not national prosperity, of trade and dickering, not principle.
We let our leaders loot our commonwealth. We let them bribe our wheedle and bribe our sovereignty from us. We let them pass bad laws that no one obeys.
We let them give away public property in exchange for nothing and often legislate impossible laws at our peril. We allow to be used for oppression and blackmail.
The unannounced, unscheduled visit of President Jonathan to the rot called Nigeria Police College initially stirs welcome news that at last Mr. Jonathan is moving in a different direction.
Even before the ‘new’ Jonathan’s picture could grace the front pages of next day’s newspapers, he buried the lead story because of the puerile and pedestrian questions he asked the Commandant of the college.
Listen to the Commander-in-Chief: “How was Channels TV able to penetrate and record the mess without detection?” “When was the recording done?”
With joyful defiance, the president supplies the zinger: “This is a calculated attempt to damage the image of the government, as the college is not the only training institution in the country.”
Wrong questions, Mr. President! With the FOI, Channels TV doesn’t need any permit to carry out its watchdog function. It doesn’t have to sneak into the college either. “When was the recording done?” Sir, recording was not done before you took office.
The president doesn’t get it. He’s more concerned about the image of his administration than the welfare of students who are being trained to protect the people, confront and combat armed robbers, crimes, and other criminal elements in our society. He doesn’t give a damn!
He missed a rare opportunity to demonstrate some leadership spine. There is a world of difference between activity and progress. It’s not the visit that matters, but his reaction and action to the problem on ground.
Calculated attempt to damage the image of the government? Mr. President, what image are you talking about? Image of corruption? Image of not being able to tame Boko Harams? Image of lies and hypocrisy? Image of secrecy and subversion of justice and fairness? Image of doing nothing?
Image of political paralysis that has defined your administration? Image of insensitivity to the plight of the jobless? The homeless and the multitude of the poor? The army of the unemployed? Collapsed infrastructures? Image of a Nigeria as a failed state? Can you explain yourself better to Nigerians?
Mr. President, truth be told the image of your government has been damaged the first day you took office. From day one as president, the spirit of graft and lawless has become the Nigerian spirit!
What is to be done?
The punishment for those who are responsible for the rot should be swift and severe like that of Sodom and Gomorrah in the following order:
1. Fire the Inspector General of Police.
2. Fire the minister of police affairs.
3. Fire the chair and members of the police commission.
4. Disband and reconstitute the oversight House and Senate Committee on police affairs.
5. Replace the Ikeja Police College with 21st century police academy.