From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
President Buhari has reiterated that his administration is committed to leaving an enduring democratic legacy by entrenching a process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.
He said it is in cognisance of this that his administration has prioritised critical reforms in the Nigeria Police Force in order to reposition it to effectively fulfil its internal security and democratic governance.
President Buhari stated this on Monday while declaring open the Senior Police officers Conference and Retreat in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
He said that the conference and retreat provide the opportunity to further discuss issues relating to the role and capacity of the Nigeria Police Force as the lead security agency in the electoral and internal security process, towards ensuring a peaceful, secure, free, fair and credible 2023 general elections.
This Conference and Retreat will enable us to discuss issues relating to the role and capacity of the Nigeria Police, being the lead agency in the electoral and internal security process, towards ensuring a peaceful, secure, free, fair, and credible 2023 General Elections.
“In my address at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 19th September 2017, I made it very clear that ‘our faith in democracy remains firm and unshaken,” he said.
In reinforcing my unwavering commitment to democratic values and strong democratic institutions to govern the process, during my farewell speech at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 21st September, 2022, I noted that ‘we have invested heavily to strengthen our framework for free and fair elections and hence, I re-affirmed on the global stage that ‘as President, I have set the goal that one of the enduring legacies I would like to leave is to entrench a process of free, fair, transparent and credible elections through which Nigerians elect leaders of their choice.”
“I also noted that ‘it has been my experience that a democratic culture provides a government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change,” he stated.
I remain steadfast to these commitments. This informed my disposition to strengthen the legal frameworks and enrich our legal processes as exemplified by my assenting to the amended 2022 Electoral Bill on 24th February 2022″
President also stated that “despite these initiatives, it is recognised that no nation advances its democracy and attains its socio-economic and developmental goals without an effective policing system. There must, therefore, come a time in the life of a nation when the people and government must, in the national security interest, frontally address challenges that have historically, been negatively impacting on public trust, partnership, and institutional efficiency of the policing agency.
“In furtherance to this, I assented to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Bill to provide a legal framework for an enhanced funding regime for the Force. Similarly, I assented to the Nigeria Police Academy Bill to grant statutory recognition to the institution and position it effectively to attain its young and futuristic manpower development programmes.
“I also approved a new and befitting salary and welfare regime that aligns the remuneration of police personnel to the dictates of their critical functions, while also approving and releasing funds to support the recruitment of ten thousand police Constables annually, to address the wide manpower gap in the Force.
“In addition, I approved the adoption of the Community Policing Model as the internal security strategy of the country with requisite funds released to implement the initiative.
“Special Intervention Funds to address critical operational and capacity development initiatives of the Force were also approved. As part of the re-engineering project of the Force, the Federal Government is currently working with some Development Partners towards strengthening the police reform agenda.
“My desire is to restore the primacy of the Police towards rebuilding public trust and professionalism. My vision is also to bequeath to the nation a Police Force that is not only modernised, but well-funded, suitably equipped, and appropriately re-oriented to effectively police our democracy and guarantee a stable internal security order under a citizen-led, technology-driven, rule of law guided by intelligence-based policing models.
“I am also pleased to note that our police, in conformity to my democratic visions, and in manifestation of the positive impact of these reforms, have in recent times been demonstrating high professional, ethical and operational standards as reflected in their performances in internal security operations and during the recent off-season electoral outings in Edo, Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun States.”