President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to prune the number of policemen attached to Very Important Personalities, VIPs.
The move is part of the Federal Government’s efforts to address the shortage of policemen in the country.
He gave the order yesterday in the State House, Abuja, at a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Police Service Commission, PSC.
He directed the IGP to redeploy all officers and men withdrawn from such dignitaries to regular police duties.
The President warned that he will not tolerate any irregularity or extortion of money from unemployed Nigerians in the coming recruitment into the police.
He had earlier in the week approved the recruitment of 10,000 Nigerians into the police force.
President Buhari said that applicants giving bribes before being recruited into the police in the past was totally unacceptable to him. He told the officials that those in charge of recruitment and training in the police must be above board and eschew every form of extortion and underhand dealings.
Buhari said: “You must ensure that the recruitment process is transparent. Those who will conduct the recruitment must be above board. It should not be heard that they receive gratification or extort money from those who want to enlist in the police.”
On the stagnation of policemen on ranks for many years, the President asked the PSC to review the current structure of the police and make recommendations on how the problem could be solved to boost the morale of officers.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police Affairs, Dr. James Obiegbu had, in his briefing of the President, listed inadequate police personnel, dwindling finances and non-rehabilitation of police training schools as some of the challenges facing the force.
The PSC Chairman, Mr. Mike Okiro, said that the country needs over 305,579 policemen and women which it has at present for effective policing.
He thanked President Buhari for approving the recruitment of 10,000 additional policemen into the Service.
In an interview with State House correspondents after the meeting, Okiro said that no fewer than 19,000 vacancies currently exist in the Nigeria Police.
Okiro, a former Inspector-General of Police, said the vacancies emanated from non-replacement of personnel who had either retired, died or were dismissed from service.
He said of about 21,000 vacancies that existed from those occurrences, only about 1,500 had been filled, leaving 19,500 openings.
“We talked about recruitment of police officers. Over the years, more than 21,000 police officers have retired, some dismissed, some died between 2010 and today (yesterday). Of this number, only about 1,500 have been replaced, leaving a deficit of a very large number.
“So we discussed this with Mr. President. Of course, you are aware that a few days ago, Mr. President said the police are going to embark on recruitment of 10,000 people. We discussed with him on modalities and how to ensure that the 10,000 people are recruited to maintain the security of Nigeria,” Okiro said.
He hinted, however that the recruitment of 10,000 officers approved by President Buhari earlier in the week may take a little while to be effected as some procedures needed to be put in place before the exercise could commence.
Speaking to journalists, Dr. Obiegbu said the welfare of officers dominated their discussion with the President.
“All through the discussions, the President was interested in the welfare of officers. He was interested in the issues concerning their emotions, issues concerning their placing, He promised that he will continue to support the police family to ensure that the police are well provided for,” he said.
No more room for mediocrity in public service
Meanwhile, President Buhari has declared that his administration would not tolerate mediocrity in the public service anymore.
He therefore directed the National Productivity Centre, NPC, to work for the establishment of productivity movement in Ministries, Department and Agencies, MDAs, describing it as a platform to assessing performance and reward excellence.
Buhari gave the order at the 15th edition of the National Productivity Order of Merit in Abuja, yesterday.
According to him, “The observance of the National Productivity Day across Nigeria is primarily to demonstrate firm belief in the cardinal role of productivity in national development. It is also to reawaken the consciousness of workers to a diligent and excellence working environment that would be rewarded in due time.”
Represented by Dr. Clement Illoh, the President advocated that similar steps be taken by state governors to encourage productivity in their states, especially among public servants.
Giving a background of the past awardees, the President urged the 11 successful awardees and two companies to emulate the giant strides of the past awardees.
He admitted that the public service as an organ of the government responsible for the formulation and implementation of government policies has a critical role to play in his administration, adding that, “It is my intention to hold the public servants collectively and individually responsible for the planning and implementation of the changes contemplated by this Administration. Henceforth, it will no longer be “business as usual. Excellence will be rewarded and mediocrity will equally not tolerated.” he declared.
One of the awardees, Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, said that the award would encourage him to do more, especially enhancing safety on the country’s roads.