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WHAT IT MEANS FOR NIGERIA TO MOVE TOWARDS A STATE POLICE SYSTEM

BY: John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D
 Published March 30th, 2010

Leaders and systems come and go as evidenced in every past and present constitutional democracy. Effective governance certainly calls for progressive initiatives in the face of changing demographics, mobilizing territories and expanding communities. The same should go for any able presidential and executive-oriented democracy.

The Nigeria of today which is being powered by the 1999 Constitution calls for realistic federal, state and local freedoms for its people and any law abiding persons.

But the existing security system called the Nigeria Police Force which is national in body and practice has not stood up as a democratic institution in the face of our rapidly expanding society. In reality, it is no fault of any one individual in the police leadership that adequate maintenance of peace appeared to be over the control of a centralized security operation.

Contemporary Nigeria now have thirty six states with competing structures marked with different levels of resources, different amount of populations, and different kind of community sensibilities. Along with these characteristics are neighboring environments with towns and corners as well as neighborhoods where dialects, habits, customs, relationships and circumstances remain in operation sometime in different ways.
These regional and communal demands no doubt appeals more for state managed policing.

Let it be clear that the historical nature of regional policing which once existed in Nigeria as local policing under the British colonial power and the Nigeria Republic of 1960/1963 came about mainly due to selfish, alien and imposing considerations and nothing else. However, the national polity and psyche of the society is institutionally different at this time

In a society that is continuously struggling with basic social infrastructures common in healthy democracies as it relates to street lights, roads, telephones, and other physical operatives further make local security hands more essential. The fundamental works of policing in most progressive societies have always being in the area of social welfare services and peace-making which aligns much more with local needs and security.

The national interest in the area of law and order could be served better as different state governments more fully and severely take greater interest in protecting its people and properties.

State police systems have multiple benefits. One super benefit is serving as a major source of labor for young adult men and women from different localities.

In every presidential system, states are generally supposed to be strong under effective governors who independently could promptly and vigorously foil turmoil, mass chaos or open danger without waiting for federally controlled authorities. Under the current security system, police commissioners in each state answers directly and takes order first from the IG (Inspector General of police), a federal appointee in the capital, leaving the state governors helpless as information is slow to be processed.

The idea that independent regional policing could breed misuse by local politicians, business men and officials within states is more likely to be watered down under state watch where over sight boards manned by local authorities (state managed courts) have been known to be more effective.

Various states along with local universities both private and non private, could become effective sponsors of up to date criminal justice training with more specialized areas(e.g. psychology, community relations, forensic and others) occurring, which could make police work more attractive to the public service –minded individuals.

The long standing police issues like poor pay, poor accommodation, broken communication systems, used up equipments, poor crime report statistics, deplorable transportations, violence-prone acts, bribery-prone behaviors and other deficiencies could be reduced drastically as different states could more likely expend monies and resources on their security measures which include those enforcing laws to protect people.

The long history and mounting issue of tribal, ethnic, religious as well as legal (common law/sharia) lines that continue to stain the institutional progress and stability of the nation could be strongly reduced as police personnel will be more reflective of the values and beliefs of their respective regions.

As we enter the 21st century deeper and deeper, the use of presidential power, the push for legislative initiatives, and the engagement of modern scholars in criminal justice and in professional behaviorism as well as the use of other collaborative minds should now begin to attend to this broken system.

Sooner or later a constitutional amendment will take on this matter not only in the area of policing but across other security systems , so why not begin the process now, if only for the sake of quick and effective protection of the entire federalism.-a true one at best.


John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D, is a practicing clinical/forensic psychologist and the Interim Associate Dean of Behavioral Science at Broward College, Coconut Creek, Florida. joshodi@broward.edu,



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