The recent demand for the “immediate” establishment of state police by the 19 Northern governors would be somewhat amusing to watchers of Nigeria’s political past. At their most recent meeting with traditional leaders in Abuja, they made this decision.
Leaders, legislators, and activists from the South have been yelling nonstop for the past 50 years or so about the need to eliminate the centralizing forces that undermine our federalism and keep power out of the hands of those who deserve it most.
The protesters have claimed that keeping the military command structure in our federal system is anti-people, undemocratic, and does not support effective and transparent governance.
Our lone, federally regulated police force in a complex, diversified federation with a growing population is a significant contributor to this centralization. There are 371,800 police officers in a nation of more than 200 million people, with up to one-third of them assigned to VIPs.
Even the Northern leaders have recognized the folly in continuing to oppose the creation of state police at a time when crime is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with terrorism, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, cultism, ritual killings, drug abuse, cybercrimes, human trafficking, and others choking the nation.
Even during the National Conference in 2014, which former President Goodluck Jonathan called, the North had vehemently fought against state police. There have always been and will continue to be concerns that the creation of state police will weaken the establishment’s monopoly ability to maintain law and order for narcissistic political purposes. Activists for state police have even been accused of plotting independence, according to some!
Due to the widespread insecurity that currently exists in the area and other regions of the country, this narrow-minded and self-serving argument has finally been refuted by logic. The North’s vast ungoverned regions have been overtaken by terrorists, jihadists, bandits, kidnappers, and armed herders, which has caused insecurity and poverty to induce the daily departure of thousands of Northerners to the South.