For the past six months, I have been looking at Nigeria, and asking the question, of myself that is, what single action/solution/move etc, would take us out of our current overwhelming darkness, into the light of civilization!
In the past, when I asked this question, I arrived at corruption, as the ogre that we needed to slay!
I now find myself, with superior information, and the additional wisdom that comes with the passage of time, looking at a different prospect all together!
If we say it is corruption: why does corruption thrive? It does because of a pervasive culture of lawlessness!
One other pet bogeyman we love to blame, is ethnicity, and nepotism! That too, is an issue, but we do not see it in other countries!
So what is our biggest problem, and how can we solve it?
It is the police!
It is so simple, I do not know why we have never considered it!
What makes the United States of America, a lawful place?
Why do hardened, dyed-in-the wool serial, chronic, law-breaking Nigerians, model citizens in the United Kingdom?
The answer to the two questions above, is simple!
The Police in these two countries, cannot be influenced!
If Barack Obama, the American president, for some inexplicable reason, decides to drive himself, and goes over the speed limit, an American policeman, would gladly issue him a ticket for over speeding!
If he tries to influence the man, by declaring that he is the president, another offence would be added to the first, trying to influence an officer of the law! These would be sufficient grounds to commence impeachment proceedings!
In Nigeria, the reverse is the case! When a local government chairman wants to drive against oncoming traffic, his police detail, actually lead the way!
In like manner, when someone in government wants to show an opponent, who is not so privileged, he sends policemen to rough him up!
If you break the law in Nigeria, and find yourself in police trouble, you are sure that the solution to your problem, has a price!
If you offer the investigating police officer five hundred naira, and are turned down, you can increase it to five thousand naira!
If he rejects that one too, you go to his superior officer, and offer fifteen thousand naira! If the inspector refuses your offer of fifteen thousand naira, you go to the divisional police office, with a bribe of fifty thousand naira!
If the DPO refuses to play ball, then you may need to take five hundred thousand naira, to the commissioner for police!
Should the commissioner refuse your offer, you are bound to find someone, between him, and the inspector general of police!
In so doing, one is able to kick the law in the teeth, and get his way!
Murderers, kidnappers, hired killers, election riggers, and all manner of deviants, rule Nigeria, through conniving with the police!
So what is different about the two countries mentioned above, as having a police force, that is a deterrent?
In these two countries, the police actually do their jobs! They solve crimes, and cannot be easily swayed, by the offer of money!
I am not saying that we do not have a few individuals among them, who regularly collect money, to undermine the law: they are there, but in the minority!
In our own case, we have a culture that undermines the rule of law!
So how can we transform our police force, from one that is corrupted, and for sale, to a truly efficient watchdog?
While the answers may be simple to proffer, the execution would be very costly in human, and monetary terms!
We have a saying among the Yoruba ethnic group of my people, that obe to dun, owo lo pa! (That it cost a lot to cook a very rich, and delicious soup!)
We would need to reorient the force, and this is an almost impossible task! Note, I said 'almost impossible', not impossible!
Too many unqualified people, people either disqualified by reason of being morally wanting, since they are former criminals, and those who do not have the educational qualification, currently wear the police uniform!
These ones would need to go!
Secondly, we would need to increase the salary of the least paid police man/woman, to such a level, that they would not want to jeopardize it, with a fifty naira bribe!
In addition, they should be guaranteed, accommodation for life, on retirement!
These would be in addition to improving their working condition with equipment that enhance efficiency!
How many times have you seen a police man, wearing the wrong shoes? How many times have you seen them hobbling along in a rickety vehicle, with broken headlamps, and windshield, trying to chase a criminal who has stolen a Mercedes Benz AMG, or a BMW X6?
If the president truly wants to transform Nigeria, let him transform the police!
When the police is transformed, and incorruptible, people would think twice before rigging! A transformed police would make bribe taking, a high-risk venture!
We have the resources, many times over, to make this a reality, what we lack, is the political will!