In recent years and if truth is to be told the fire currently burning in the belly of the Nigerian police structure could be located directly within the ethno-religious make-up of the entire country.
In other words, police problems are continuously being fed by ethnic, tribal, religious and personal issues especially as they relate the adequate practice of police work across and within the country.
Globally, it is a fact that when Nigerian Police men and women serve as a contingent for foreign duties they exert professional and corporate image in their various tasks.
As police officers that are operating in foreign lands they are reputed for their show of motivation and corporation but within Nigeria their reality like most public sector workers of Nigeria, they seem to be driven by religious indoctrinations, ethnic loyalty, personal gains and societal ills.
Therefore the vision to enhance good police work in Nigeria isstill very , very far away. The current trends of problems facing the Nigerian police have no bearing on who is managing the police as in the case of Inspector General of Police (IGP), Hafiz Ringim.
In recent years and even in the past, one Inspector-General of Police after the other,cannot deny the unusualimportance and the strange relevance of obvious ethnic and subtle religious markers and their effects on stability of the police and national security.
It is a naked fact that in recent years the Nigeria Police and other security agencies now have so much money expended to it for securityoperation. Yet problems continue to swell.
The deep roots of ethnicity and the subtle effects of religion appear to be closely linked to intelligence gathering and dissemination.
In this regard, some in the policemay not be able to establish and maintain a credible intelligence as their loyalty first goes to persons/organizations of ethnic affiliation or religious composition and not to the presidency, the police management or national security partners.
So, no matter how effective or ineffective is the police chief as long as the weight of religion and load of ethnicity remain heavy on an average police man or woman the intelligence operation that is critical to handle criminal or security challenges is likely to be contaminated.
The police and other security agencies remain erected andline as religious and ethnically based governmental functions which make loyalty to the Constitution or to the nation problematic.
Ethnic politics in the police, homage along tribal lines and the uneven distribution of rewards of positions further contribute to the present-day police dilemma in terms of having neutrally-minded personnel to adequately combat terrorism, violence, and other criminality.
The existing and current ethnic and religious map of Nigeria which is no fault of any police chief is reflected in the internal corners of domestic quarters of the people.
In a society where thousands of employees of the Nigerian Police are attached as security officers to civilian Nigerians, it could be very difficult that from time to time intelligence information is not leaked to one’s master or madam especially those of the same ethnic and religious background as the officer.
One overriding feature of the country’s national security operationis that of intra/inter-security rivalry by officers, in terms of ethnic and religioussentiments. And in the interest of viablepolice functions, national security operations, national justice rolesand a healthy democratic system, we must no longer remain silent on these issues.
In our culture, religion and ethnicity havethe multiple functions of legitimating our daily lives socially and spiritually. And this is a good thing.
But for our national interest to be first in regards to our protection it is our responsibilityto put a check on the bitter aspects of ethno-religious consciousness.
To reduce the toxic aspects of ethnicity and religion the police management, and the entire national security apparatus need to establish a number of clinical training centers and develop neutralization strategies in the areas of religious and ethnic mentality in regards to security/law enforcement. This could be done without losing a way of life, culturally.
Meanwhile, if the entire air of national security continues to becontaminated and compressed due to ethno-religious toxicity and helplessness, we must find other radical ways for the people to have confidence in the securityin regards to their properties and lives.
One immediate suggestion may be to importsecurityagents knowing fully well they will naturally function outside Nigerian-lased religious and ethnic networks, unlike our indigenous security agents.
At least there will be less worry whether intelligence will be soiled by extreme religious and ethnic sentiments.
One thing for sure is that Nigerians must do something now, and not allow the nation to further fall into the ditch of total breakdown of law and order.
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D, is the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association (NPA) , and an expert in Forensic/Clinical Psychology at the Department of Psychology, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nasarawa. Jos5930458@aol.com. 08126909839