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Monday, February 19, 2007

NIGERIA OLLP...(P.for PECULIAR)

2007 has certainly not brought good tidings to the thousands of policemen caught up in the most recent downsizing of the force’s manpower strength. The retrenchment of over 10,000 police officers, many of whom are trained to bear arms and would struggle to find alternative employment, would always have security implications in any society as volatile as Nigeria. What concerns most people however is the timing of its announcement just a few months to the forthcoming general elections - at a time therefore when desperate politicians could be recruiting thugs to help them rig or mar the elections. Although many of the retrenched officers were reportedly found guilty by internal panels of serious indiscipline and misconduct, certificate forgery, declining productivity, continuous ill health or permanent physical incapacity such as blindness, etc. it is contended that some of their cases ought to have been reported to the Police Service Commission (PSC) for further necessary action since that commission alone, rather than the inspector general of police, is empowered by the Constitution and the Police Service Commission Act of 2001 to dismiss the officers from service. Government must remember that the democratic legitimacy of the institutions that exercise power in Nigeria derives not only from the fact that they are duly constituted, but also from their deference to the sovereignty of the Nigerian people. Such institutions are therefore duty bound to conduct their functions according to the specified codes and for the benefit of the whole society. The sophistry of the police spokesman who tersely described the retrenchment as “part of an ongoing rationalisation exercise” merely obscured the fact that the affected officers are bona fide Nigerian citizens. Alas, the worm in our social apple threatens to bring rot to the whole society and degrade its moral compass for lack of compassion. How does the government intend to rehabilitate the dignity of our growing army of unemployed and ensure that its members can continue to discharge their social responsibilities? Has government thought about the danger that retrenched policemen who have been trained to use weapons can constitute to the health of the nation? What lesson could we have learnt from the Libyan government’s offer to the four hundred thousand public servants it proposes to retrench of one-off payments of up to forty thousand US dollars each or the continued payment of their monthly salaries for up to three years? Nigerians should be sufficiently acquainted with the IMF/World Bank’s so-called structural reform programmes to realise that those institutions regard manpower as the major source of inefficiency and are therefore prone to shedding the workforce with vengeance at every drop of the hat. The “essential reforms” they usually impose as conditions for their questionable support are intended to create greater worker insecurity and keep workers from demanding living wages and benefits. Workers’ insecurity may be crucial to the prospects of the global capitalist economy, but experience has shown that no society remains healthy which does not exercise a significant measure of control over its own social and economic life. Our socioeconomic spaces will certainly not be well managed until we install accounting tools that measure the costs and benefits of labour from the standpoint of the society as a whole rather than its component parts and clearly indicate what proportion of the values generated from social activity remains in the society and what proportion flows out of it. The decision to lay off ten thousand police men might come to haunt Nigeria in the future; unfortunately it is the innocent citizen, not those who chose to over-zealously implement anti-people policies that end up suffering the tragic consequences of those hare-brained economic policies.
EDITORIAL
Police retrenchments


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