When President Muhammadu Buhari announced the approval of 20 per cent salary increase for officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) on December 15, there was jubilation and mixed reactions not just among the officers, but also the general public.
The president had through the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, told state house correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting that the review exercise which would to take effect from January 2022, was in response to the demands made by EndSARS protesters in 2020, primarily on the improvement of welfare for police officers.
He said that the take-home pay would be enhanced through the duty tour allowance to six per cent of their new take-home pay and an approval of N1.12 billion for payment of outstanding uninsured benefits for the period of 2013 to 2020.
However, while many saw the increase as a morale booster for the police to effectively carry out their duties, others feel the salary rise would not make any difference in the rot that has engulfed the force.
For the records, the last time the police had a review of salary was during the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and since then nothing has been done as far as salary is concerned.
Before the increase by President Buhari, a police constable earned about N40,000, meaning that with the increase, a police Constable would be going home with about N50,000.
But while the increment should have been a thing of joy to the rank and file, many are not happy since the increase was not included in the 2022 budget and, therefore, see it as a scam.
Some police officers who spoke to Sunday Sun have mixed feelings about the increase, saying that the problem in the force was more than salary increase.
Some of the officers who do not want their names mentioned in print for fear of being victimized said that though the salary increase was good, there were more pressing needs in the police especially in the areas of logistics, welfare, and others.
More than the salary increase, many police officers said that they would prefer that government provide them with good healthcare facility, scholarship for their children, good and affordable accommodation, transport system, among other goodies to make their job comfortable.
An Inspector of police who spoke to Sunday Sun said: “I heard the president has increased our salary by 20 per cent. Of what use is the increase when it is not included in the 2022 budget? I don’t want to believe in this increase of a thing because if you take a very good look at it, it is not different with our old salary.
“They said they are increasing salary and yet things in the country keep going from bad to worse. Food stuffs are very expensive to the extent that we can no longer afford three square meals for our families.
“Transport fares have skyrocketed, school fees are no go area not to talk of medicals even in our police hospitals.”
Another personnel, a sergeant, told Sunday Sun that “we know it is not good to collect bribe from people, but I tell you sometimes we do that because of pressing circumstances.
“Imagine you leaving home without giving your wife money to buy food for the family because you sincerely do not have any money and these are some of the things that push one to go into some kind of illegal acts and duties.”
On how they have been coping with poor salary structure in the service and how it affects their duties and relationship with EndSARS protest, another policeman who craved for anonymity said: “The #EndSARS protest was a real eye opener to us as policemen. The protest opened our eyes to see that the people can be very powerful if they come together to achieve a just cause.
“Though we did not like the killings of policemen during the protest, it was very clear to us as police personnel that the people were fighting for our good. They saw the rot, the cheating going on in the service and decided to help us, but unfortunately the whole thing went bad and they started to kill and the killings have not stopped till this moment.
“The lesson I learnt from the whole saga is that there is a limit you can push a person to the wall and you will see the other side of the person and the protest has taught me to be civil in my dealing with people no matter their status.”
For Inusa Kura, before the #EndSARS protest, most police officers lobby to be posted to the Southeast to work.
But since after the protest and the current killings af policemen and burning down of police stations in the zone, nobody wants to serve in that region again.
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