JUST IN:Buhari allocates N571m for uniforms as Angry policemen query FG’s N9bn allocation for uniforms in eight years - The Naija Weekly

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

JUST IN:Buhari allocates N571m for uniforms as Angry policemen query FG’s N9bn allocation for uniforms in eight years

Many policemen across the country have expressed anger at the refusal of the police authorities to provide them with uniform despite the budgetary allocation for them in the annual budget of the Nigeria Police Force.
The policemen of different ranks lamented that the Force that is saddled with the responsibility of taming corruption should not be engaging in questionable acts itself.
Sunday PUNCH’s analysis of the police budget showed that in eight years the police had budgeted N9.88bn for uniform and other clothing. The sums budgeted are N2.01bn for 2010; N1.94bn for 2011; N1.36bn for 2013; N710.8m for 2015; N1.99bn for 2016; N752.5m for 2017; N573.22m for 2018; and N543.22m for 2019.
These figures were in tandem with the budgets on the website of the Budget Office of the Federation. The estimates for uniform and other clothing for 2012 and 2014 fiscal years were, however, not reflected. Also, the total allocation to police formations and commands in the years under review was N2.47tn.
Meanwhile, in the 2020 Appropriation Bill recently submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the joint session of the National Assembly, the police already budgeted a fresh N571,921,344 for uniform and other clothing in the coming year.
But, despite the budgetary provisions, policemen, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the press, revealed that there was little or nothing to show for the police budget on uniform and other accoutrements. They stressed that they had not been receiving uniform from the Force.
They pointed out that the only time they ever received uniforms in their careers was when they were training at the Police College. This, according to them, was responsible for the different colours and texture of the uniform in circulation.
They noted that the refusal of the force to provide them  uniform and other accoutrements and their “poor salary” were the reasons why many policemen look tattered on duty as they could not use their “meagre salary” to do their work, especially when the provision was made for such. They also said it had made impersonation of the police easy.
Responding to enquiries by Sunday PUNCH, an Assistant Superintendent of Police with the Ekiti State Command explained that in his over 20 years in service, he had never received uniform from the force apart from when he was at the police college.
He said, “I have been buying my uniform since I left the Police College. We are aware that there is always a budget for uniform but we do not know what becomes of the money earmarked for it. In fact, if you ask any police, they will tell you they are aware, but people don’t get the uniform. So, where does the money go?”
“We all understand that the problem with Nigeria is corruption but things are not getting better because those at the upper echelon in the police are depriving us of our entitlements. We are not happy, but as officers, we cannot complain. If you complain, you will be dismissed. We have been gagged. So, for now, there is nothing we can do. Who are we to challenge anything they do?”
An Inspector, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that apart from the uniform and a pair of shoes everyone was given, it had become the norm for policemen to buy their uniform.
He said, “The police don’t give us uniform; we buy it ourselves. The uniform is of different materials and the price varies. The black uniform costs about N7,000 including sewing. The blue uniform is also around that amount but we buy camouflage for N12,000.
“We also buy shoes with our own money. There is a department at the Force Headquarters where the shoes are kept but people end up buying shoes and that is why you see all manner of shoes everywhere. Those who should make these things available to us have turned it to business to augment their salary. Does corruption have a different meaning than what you have in the police force?
“In fact, some civilians who have a close relationship with the officers working at the store buy and resell. Since I left the police college with a uniform and a pair of shoes 13 years ago, I never got a uniform, not to talk of shoes.”
Asked if he was aware that a lot of money was being budgeted for the uniform yearly, he said, “Yes, but can the authorities claim they give us for free? They know we buy them by ourselves.”
Meanwhile, an Assistant Superintendent of Police serving with the Federal Capital Territory Command, Abuja, confirmed the Inspector’s claims, lamenting that for the 17 years he had spent in the Force, he never got a uniform apart from the one he was given at the police college.
He said, “Even the one they gave me, I couldn’t wear it because it was sub-standard. If there are any uniforms at all, they distribute them to senior officers and those working in their offices. I’m aware that we are supposed to be given a new uniform, a belt, shoes, beret, lanyard, among others every two years, but even people at the top know that those things don’t get to us.
“Imagine, with my level in the Force if I could be complaining like this, imagine the fate of junior officers. This country is not going anywhere, with the untoward practices we have within the Force and that is why there is no discipline anymore. How do I genuinely respect you when I know you enrich yourself with my entitlements?”
The story is the same in Kwara State. Among the many policemen who spoke to Sunday PUNCH, a police sergeant with the state command said she bought her uniform for N10,000 and that she usually replace them every two years.
She noted that police officers, who are tailors, also collected money for sewing, a service she said they received a monthly salary for.
She added, “The only things they distribute free are caps and lanyards and it is once in a while. The cap is N500 while the lanyard is N100. It was once I even got a cap. There is corruption everywhere in this country and it is sad. Can this country ever move forward?
“When I was serving at an Area Command, there was a time they distributed uniforms, but it was selective. Out of 12 Inspectors, they gave uniforms to three senior Inspectors and two rank and file men. They distributed socks, caps and lanyards to the rest of us. Yet, we are entitled to full kits.”
In Imo State a Deputy Superintendent of Police said, “As a mobile policeman, I sew my uniform with my money. A set costs about N10,000, and even though there are tailors in the police who are supposed to sew them free, they will collect money from you.”
Asked if he had ever requested uniform, he said, “Who will make such request when it is already a tradition that we have to buy? Who will you ask to give you in the first place? Is that not also grand corruption in the Force? That is why there is no respect and discipline in the Force anymore; when superior officers pocket what is meant for their junior officers. Respect is reciprocal.”
Meanwhile, a Superintendent of Police at the Ogun State Command also said those responsible for supplying the uniforms seem to see the office as a means of enriching themselves.
He noted that only senior officers such as the Inspector-General of Police, DIGs, AIGs, CPs and sometimes DCPs and ACPs were provided with uniforms.
He said, “It is purely eye-service on the part of those in charge of the uniform. We usually refer to them as quartermaster officers. When I wanted to sew a new uniform recently, an officer that did it for me collected N7,000. So, it has become the norm. I hope we won’t have a monetised Force in the future.
“There are specific shoes that policemen and women are supposed to wear respectively. The shoes must have lace. But since we buy them with our money, there is no uniformity in the shoes we wear and no one will punish you for that.”
A constable, who was recruited into the Force in 2018, said the uniform and shoes he was given were not his sizes, adding that he had to buy new pairs.
He stated, “The uniform was short for my height. I had to buy another one. They didn’t measure us individually. They just selected few people of different heights and stature randomly and used the measurement to sew all the uniforms. If you are lucky to see somebody whose uniform is your size and yours fits them, you can exchange. But that is not how it should be.”
Credit: Punch

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