Becoming Heroes Again

Ubong Essien (CSP, Mr. Motivator)

Facilitator – Ubong Essien (CSP, Mr. Motivator)

We will be interacting and seeing how we can help ourselves as individuals first and foremost. It is when you are a great individual, that the work you do will become better. We know that the circumstances that the police operate are not ideal, some officers work under very stressful and difficult conditions. Sometimes as a police officer you look at the way things are and feel that nobody is been fair to you but the society have high expectation on you to deliver. Whatever it is the challenge with you, you can find a way to improve yourselves.

The work the police do is what we can call the labour of love, because everyday they go out there actually putting their own life on the line for the sake of others. There is no greater sacrifice than that. That’s why police work is an Angel’s work. The real Angels in life should be the police because they are lying down their life for other people.

They stay awake so that others can sleep. They are staying in the sun so that others can stay under the A/C. It is sacrificial therefore; it is a good work and a noble profession. The police should begin to appreciate themselves even if people do not appreciate them, they can beat their chest and say ‘if not because of us where will they be.

My main message is whether people appreciate the police or not, they are there for the good of the society and that’s the truth. If you listen to the news there is always one police problem or the other, and it is not good news. What do they always report; corruption, accidental discharge, violation of human right, ineffectiveness etc Hardly will you find good news even if there are people’s children that have been rescued from kidnapping. They don’t even celebrate the police as heroes that they are.

The populace might not be fair on the police, but this should not frustrate the police as professional. They don’t really appreciate what the police is doing. I used to be like the general populace but I have a different mindset now.

What is usually portrayed is a sleeping officer on duty, a drunken officer, and

cast aspersions on them. But they are not aware of the nature and peculiarities of their jobs. They are not mindful of the fact that they have been standing on their feet receiving orders from place to place. They don’t understand. At times, an officer is in Lagos today, tomorrow they might be transferred to Borno or Maiduguri, even when their family has not fully settled down in Lagos.

Some officers go through a lot, dealing with corpse every other day. Witnessing lost of human lives and above all dealing with criminality. The bravery that their work demands to face criminals, flying bullets and they are there to stop crime from taking place. So if no one will praise them, the police have to applaud themselves for the good work that they do.

The police are the good guys. They have to remind themselves of that always. In spite of the entire difficult situation, they represent the soul and the conscience of the society. They represent how a society should run. That without the police, the system cannot hold. That is the truth.

We need to remind ourselves of this fact and then begin to ask what are those areas they are not doing well. We cannot use one side to label the police. If the police are not there for one day, people will ask questions. Police vehicle being parked alone is a deterrent to criminals. So their presence alone has value.

Police work is a noble work. I don’t know why you joined the police. Some may have joined out of no other job to do, difficult situations etc. There is nothing wrong with that. But now that you are in the police, it is good to discover the nobleness of the profession. Ignore what people around think of the police and be a true professional. You are a professional in your own right. The banks cannot operate without the police. In fact, no segment of the society can operate without the police

The uniform that the police put on has its own honour and respect as a professional uniform. The only way people will appreciate this fact, is based on how they carry and present themselves. Every society has its own issues even the so called New York police have their issues. In America the number of people applying for police job has dropped by almost 25%.

Nigerian police when they go out of our borders for operations always come back with laurels and we want such to happen here in Nigeria. As professionals, as the good guys, you need not accept every bad label or appellation. As police themselves are not confident enough to tell civilians that ‘the police are your friend’. Every bad label has been ascribed to the police

The job of policing has value and is central to how a society should run. In fact, they hold the key to the running of the society, without them there is chaos and lawlessness. That is why in America, New York Police Department (NYPD) have been nick named ‘New York finest’.

This was so because there was a day robbers went to rob Bank of America in New York, police then only carried basic weapons and were unable to confront the fully armed robbers and eventually had to call for the back-up of SWAT to capture the robbers. Despite their lesser weapons they put their life on the line sustaining injuries to make sure the robbers were captured. Since then they have been called the ‘New York finest’.

If we are looking for good people in Nigeria, can we begin from the police? Can we find them in the police? No system is perfect. As humans, we make mistakes. Some policemen have made mistakes not because they wanted to but because of the situation they find themselves. Some joined with good intentions and strong moral upbringing but have come into a system that has overtaken them and they just flow with the tides.

We need to get to that point that we challenge our police that if they are looking for good people let them start from the policemen. Police represent good. They are the good guys.  We need to change how people think about them. Everything good can come from our police, and they can be shining examples.

One officer can make a difference. From now on at your various duty post make sure no ones’ right is abused, and criminals are arrested and dealt with. There are some lawless civilians but when you carry yourselves with authority asserting your position, they will comply.

Let’s take a few points from our guide to strengthen our discussion

There is no higher calling

As stated in the bible “there is no greater love than this that a man should lay down his life for his friend”. The police go out in the morning and their coming back is in God’s hands. But also to a large extent it is in their hands. This is where they need to be responsible in your affairs as you don’t know how things can turn out.

There are areas where you have control in terms of how you deal with situations as it relates with civilians where you can decide that you will not intimidate, brutalize or abuse someone’s’ right but you will be firm and do the right thing. Here we are saying that this work is noble and it is a high calling. It is higher than even politics.

In Nigeria of today, everything is determined by money. This has entered into the police too. Where they now demand money for things that should be free. ‘Oga no money to buy paper to type your letter’, ‘bail is free but……the processing …’, ’ we need money to buy biro’. Let’s challenge ourselves, we know that there are something’s we can change and areas we can work on.

Policing with a purpose

If I were to ask what made those currently serving to join the police, the likely response will be that;

  1. For lack of other job opportunities
  2. To prevent crime and protect the citizens
  3. Because of the discipline it provides.

These are all viable reasons, the real challenge now is for officers to elevate their purpose in policing so that it’s much more robust and professional that people can feel their impact. There are people who will never join the police because they cannot stomach the fact that they have to be constantly going from one posting to another.

Officers have been equipped, trained and inspired to do it. That is why you need to constantly remind yourself that what other people are running away from you have accepted to do. That makes you the good guys. You have to know that your work is very noble.

The public expectation

Does the public love the Nigerian police? The answer is likely to be NO.

When asked, current serving officers will not want their wards to join the police.

The main question is why the public does not like the police?

They do so much. In the rain they are there. At times on their way back from their duties, they might see traffic gridlock and still have to do something about it which is a moral burden. At times, when they are supposed to be off duty, they are called up for emergency. They do all of these, yet they don’t love them. Why?

Let`s be honest with ourselves and try to find out what is responsible?

  1. Corruption – taking sides for monetary gains
  2. Injustice – perverting the truth by undue influence and inducement

It is ultimate injustice to take part in injustice. Even in law, the statement of a police officer in the absence of evidence is golden because he is a uniformed person. A criminal can be convicted on account of it. Though some officers have lost their sensitivity to the moral burden that they bear because of the nature of their job. They carry so much weight than they can imagine.

This is not a time to judge anyone. Some officers have taken advantage of their uniform to make some extra income because of that legitimate pressure of family, child education, completing a project at home, supporting their parents which are all legitimate pressures. But how can you balance that against the moral burden of the uniform you put on. A right thing done in a wrong way is wrong. A wrong thing done in a right way is wrong, only a right thing done in a right way is right.

In keeping with the order of policing, it’s not worth it settling deals with civilians, it’s not worth the uniform that you put on. That’s why people see police and don’t regard them. That’s why the image of the police is so battered. It is not a deliberate attempt by the media against the police but rather the police have provided the media with the ammunition to use. Look at it, what the media put out there on the scale of 1-10 chances are that it is 8 to 10 that is correct.

There was a time I saw something in the papers, about eight years ago, there was a new CP and he said that his tenure will be ‘’operation fire for Naira”. My point is how much is your uniform worth. Don’t cheapen yourself. It has been on for too long and you are the only one that can end it. You don’t allow any civilian to cheapen you.

The only people that can salvage the police are the policemen. All these egunje businesses, VIP postings has distracted police from focusing on the details of the job. It is now common place for comedians to make all kinds of jokes about police. So we need to see at least a few officers standing out to perform their real responsibility.

That’s why we need to begin to raise our standard and treat the police very well. There are officers above who are thinking well of police that they deserve better. But this must be reciprocated by being real policemen. If people driving around knows that they are no nonsense police, they will treat them with such regard.

The police have to wake up with anger challenging themselves that the status quo has to change. They don’t have to become a CP or ASP to make a change. At every level they can carry themselves with dignity, let people respect them and what they stand for.

In life there are usually two circles, the first circle is very large and called circle of concern (these are things you are concerned about e.g. the weather, criminals, uncooperative civilians, next posting) all these you don’t have control over. Secondly, a smaller circle called the circle of influence (your behavior and choices) which are the things you can do something about for example bribe taking, brutality, human right abuses, extortion etc.

As you continue to work on your circle of influence, it begins to spread out to your circle of concern.

My job is to tell you the truth the same way police job is to uphold the truth. If you catch us doing the wrong thing you got to tell us the truth, when you don’t, you are only encouraging us to be corrupt. Police is there to uphold the law and anytime you are not doing so you have failed the society. The consequences are far higher for you because you have connived to destroy the things you swore to protect.

The police work did not start recently but right from heaven. That’s why we said police work is God`s work. It is a privilege and honour to be among those who are protecting the peace of the society. In a matter of time people around will come to appreciate your effort. But you need to help them by staying out of all these things that disgraced your image.

The mission of the police is to provide safety and security in Nigerian communities, to protect and respect human rights and to protect community partnership.

It is important that police become good guys, people who are responsible for taking care of the peace and order in the society. That’s what it is about. You must be prepared to make sacrifices for doing the right things. I must tell you, honest people must be prepared to suffer in an unjust environment. That is the price you pay for honesty. It is your own personal moral choice.

In Nigeria today, it is difficult to have this conversation about honesty and integrity. Because we have gone so far into darkness that darkness is now been seen as light in the country. Corruption is the order of the day.

Now we are not sure of the definition of corruption again, wrong have become right and right have become wrong. Now police who should know the dividing line are now second guessing. This discussion is about you regaining your conscience so that you don’t get to that point of no return. If we don’t regain ourselves, we are heading to anarchy. We all need to go back and do soul searching and cleansing, on what we took oath to protect. You have to do soul searching and cleansing.