22nd October, 2010
The Obafemi Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy, OAIGPP, recently heldÂ a public lecture on the need to enlighten and sensitise the electorate on governanceÂ and civil responsibility.
The chairman of Board of Trusteees of the Institute, Chief Bisi Akande, explainedÂ that the enlightenment became necessary to avert the electoral debacle of 2007,Â which exposed the country to mockery in the comity of nations.
Delivering a lecture on â€œSecurity InstitutionÂ and Electoral Reforms,â€ the guestÂ speaker, former Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, asked NigeriansÂ to recognise and learn to defend their electoral rights, stressing that there canÂ only be free and fair elections when voters insist on electoral sanity.
He said the current size of the police and its poor funding by the FederalÂ Government may undermine effective policing of the electioneering process.
He called for the review of the level of preparedness of the security agencies, inÂ view of the relationship between effective security and conduct of free and fairÂ elections.
He said, although the police carry out major security responsibility duringÂ elections, its performance is retarded by logistic problems.
â€œWith a staff strength that is still under 500,000, specialist inclusive to cover,Â at least, 120,000 polling stations and annual poor funding that makes it impossibleÂ to provide officers and men with attractive and motivating service condition andÂ necessary logistics in the right quantity and quality, it will be sheer wishfulÂ thinking to expect effective performance.
â€œOther security agencies that normally collaborate with the police to provideÂ security for our elections also experience similar problems,â€ Smith stressed.
He established a connection between poor elections and police inadequacies, pointingÂ out that as electoral offences and violence loomed, police were not in a betterÂ position to bring the perpetrators and their sponsors to book.
Smith maintained that, unless the Federal Government fulfill its promise toÂ transform the police into a professional, highly motivated, well trained andÂ adequately equipped force, policemen on electoral duty next year would still beÂ handicapped.
â€œFor 2011 elections, immediate measures should be taken to re-organise and empowerÂ the security institutions to ensure they are well prepared and positioned for theÂ challenges ahead,â€ he advised.