President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday took a look at the various security challenges facing the country and returned a verdict: Nigeria is passing through a trying moment.
“This is quite a trying moment for this country in terms of security. A number of our police officers have lost their lives while serving their fatherland. We have challenges from the South to the North and from the East to the West. We sleep but some people will keep awake and these are the security personnel,” he said.
Jonathan spoke at the grand finale of the 2013 Police Week Celebrations at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
The event, which featured a ceremonial parade by policemen and the inauguration of police equipment, including seven helicopters, 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers and 275 patrol vans, was attended by top government officials and security experts.
The President, who called for a minute silence in honour of security agents who have lost their lives in the process of securing the people, regretted that no part of the country was spared in the security challenges.
While condoling with the families of security personnel who died in the various attacks Jonathan assured them that the Federal Government would never abandon them.
He said in his quest to tackle the security challenges headlong, his vision was to ensure that all the 36 state police commands and that of the Federal Capital Territory had helicopters for effective aerial surveillance.
Jonathan said, “The police must be well equipped and kitted to protect us while on land, water and air. You can see the helicopters that will be inaugurated and my commitment is that every state command must have a helicopter.
“That was why we set up a special fund because the idea that armed robbers will take over a state and be operating for hours without any challenge must be a thing of the past. That is why we must invest in air power for the Nigeria police.”
He promised that his administration would create a more friendly police force that would be united with the community through a shared sense of responsibility and partnership.
This, the President said, was possible if all stakeholders such as the government, the citizens, the police leadership, officers and men worked together for a common purpose.
Jonathan asked all policemen to rise to the current reality and challenges facing the nation.
While admitting that policing was a challenging task, he said every policeman and woman must change with the time, adding that that was the minimum standard expected of them by Nigerians.
The President also warned policemen to always be mindful of the rights of innocent Nigerians while carrying out their assignments.
He said, “I also charge the police, while doing their work to be mindful of the rights of the ordinary citizens because rights are very sensitive. While policing us, you must know that the rights of the citizens of this country must be protected. In that regard, we expect maximum discipline from officers and men of the Nigeria Police.
”Jonathan said his presence at the ceremony was in furtherance of his administration’s determination to reposition the nation’s security structure for a more effective policing.
He said, “The police have a daunting task of enforcing the laws, keeping the peace and protecting lives and property which are exceedingly vital for societal well-being and development.
“It is therefore why every nation expects so much from its police. For the police to be effective, government must also provide the police what they require to work, tools must be provided.“That is one of the reasons we are here to inaugurate some of the items and we will continue to do more. We are today going to inaugurate some helicopters and vehicles for the use of the police.
“I expect that these facilities will enhance police capability in prevention of crimes. They shall be instruments of justice and protection of all men and women. As they use the equipment, one thing I will urge the police to do is to maintain them. As a nation, we are not good at maintaining what we have.”
The President also made a case for training and re-training in the police force.
“We must emphasise the need to train. For you to remain gallant and functional in whatever you do and especially in security tactics, training is paramount. “ he added.
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, said with the resuscitation of the Police Week which was last celebrated in 1976, he was passing a clear message to criminals that the wind of change was now blowing through the police.
Abubakar said the new police force would display “team spirit, loyalty, zeal, courage, civility and renewed commitment” towards confronting criminals.
He said, “My sense of pride stems from the fact that with the blessing of the Almighty God and support of my lieutenants, it is under my stewardship as the Inspector-General of Police that the concept of Nigeria Police Week which was last celebrated in 1976, was reintroduced.“For over 37 years, a veritable instrument and opportunity to strengthen the bond between the police and the public was kept on hold, while the gap between the police and the community kept widening.
“Mistrust grew and the public and the police started reacting based on mutual suspicion. All because, the opportunity for social interaction, the Police Week Celebrations provided was allowed to fizzle away.”
He recalled with nostalgia the times when police stations were opened for members of the public to walk in and interact with their policemen and officers; when police commanders and smartly dressed policewomen would proudly interact with the youth community and security stakeholders in the society; and when the expertise of the Force would be showcased in form of demonstrations by versatile police motorcycle riders among others.
He said with the Monday event, the Force leadership was giving practical meaning to its firm determination to restore the lost glory of the Force and re-enact those practices which bind the citizens to their police and elicit fond memories of the force.
Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, who described the ceremony as another first in the present administration’s transformation agenda, said the event provided another opportunity for the police to reconnect with the people in tackling security challenges.
Olubolade urged the police to reciprocate the good gesture of government in providing the equipment by working hard to tackle the insecurity in the land.
About 17 policemen were honoured at the ceremony with two of them receiving post-humus awards.
The recipients were rewarded for various activities, including counter-insurgency efforts, investigation of high profile murder cases and commanding ceremonial parades.