By Hassan Zaggi
Two days ago, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, approved a new and improved dress code for Women Officers of the Nigeria Police Force.
In the new dress code which was unveiled by the IGP at a meeting with top police officers in Abuja, the female police officers are now permitted to wear stud earrings and headscarf under their berets or peak caps as the case may be while in uniform.
During the unveiling ceremony, the IGP explained that the Nigeria Police workforce has officers from every local government in the country with a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds and an increased inclusion of female folks.
This, according to him, brings the need to guarantee inclusion, gender mainstreaming, ethnic and religious diversity in the work place for optimum output and professionalism.
The IGP stressed that this has informed the improvement for effective global workforce diversity management.
While giving examples of countries that have adopted same dress code, the IGP said, they include Canada, the United States of America, Sweden, Turkey, Australia and the United Kingdom amongst others.
He, however, put forward a caveat when unveiling the dress code, saying the “dress code is optional,” charging Senior Women Police Officers to ensure compliance with the approved standard for women police officers who have opted to adopt the dress code.
The IGP reiterated that the new ‘optional’ dress code is in line with international best practices, noting that it is aimed at addressing the growing concern for gender mainstreaming and respect for culture and diversity.
Despite the ‘optional’ clause and the good intention of the dress code as explained by the IGP, some Nigerians however, pick holes in the dress code and its motive.
In his reaction to the new dress code, a renowned lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, opined that the religion of public officers, including members of the security agencies, should be a private matter to them.
He argued that the IGP is not competent to use the platform of his office to enforce religion.
According to him: “Section 10 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates that government and all its agencies should be neutral in religious matters.
“Section 42 of the same Constitution prohibits discrimination in all its ramifications. In this regard, there will be no end to confusion attending the new dress code prescribed by the IGP.”
Adegboruwa however, put forward some pertinent questions.
He queried: “What will be the official uniform for police women who are in the Catholic Church?
“How should policemen and women who are in the Celestial Church dress up when the practice of their church is against wearing shoes at all?
“And how should traditionalists who are in the police force dress up, with charms and amulets round their uniforms?”
The legal icon further posited that: “The Nigeria Police has existed as an institution since 1945 and it is strange that of all the issues confronting that agency, such as low morale, poor welfare, poor infrastructure, poor training, poor welfare, etc, religious adornment should be the priority of the Inspector-General of Police.
“The police should focus on combating crime, improve citizens engagement and help guaranty safety of lives and property. The religious preferences of policemen and women should be their private matters.”
However, some female police officers across the two major religious interviewed by our Correspondent seems not to be excited about the dress code unveiled by the IGP.
An Abuja based female police sergeant who pleaded for anonymity said that she does not have any issue with the new dress code because, according to her, with or without the new code, she has been doing her job to the best of her ability.
“I am a born Muslim, but I don’t think dress code is my concern for now. I have been doing my job unhindered, so, I don’t think dress code will add any value to me.
“Dress code will not add food to my table. It will not give me my promotion as and at when due. Dress code will not guarantee increase in wages and better working conditions for female officers. I am just trying to be frank to you. I can assure most that female police officers don’t see the new dress code as anything. May be very few among us will be thrilled with this new dress code. But for me, I don’t count that as an achievement because, before now, I did not complain about my dressing.”
On her part, a woman Inspector who serves in one of the police post in Nasarawa State, in a suburb near the FCT said: “Those who want a new dress code should go and do their thing. I am not part of them. Maybe young female officers will be happy about the new dress code but not old people like me. What will that add to me or do you see me as someone that will start wearing something beyond what I am used to.
“I have served for over 20 years, what do I need the dress code for. They only thing that can make me happy is when the IGP sincerely increases our salary and provide for us good working environment and equipment.
“Many police officers are being killed across the country on a daily basis due to lack of the needed equipment to work, who cares about dress code.”
On his part, a Kaduna-based Islamic cleric who was angry when our Correspondent approach him to get his views on the new dress code, said “that is not my priority for now.”
The cleric who later calmed down and offered to speak to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said that he is not happy with the current government, hence, dress code is not an issue to him.
According to him, “I have lost many of my relations to bandits and many people across all faiths have died due to the activities of criminals including armed robbers and kidnappers. I am pained that this government cannot protect our people.
“I don’t want to say anything about the Nigeria Police Force, but I am disappointed at the way our people in the far north are being killed. Go to Zamfara and Katsina and see what it happening. Is dressing code an issue that we should be discussing at this time? Our collective concern should be how to get our people secured from the activities of these bandits, armed robbers and kidnappers.
“For me, whatever the officers of the Nigeria police force will wear or even if they can go necked to protect our people, please they should do it. Dress code is not my concern now.
“My prayer now as a cleric is the protection of lives of our people. I think this should be the major priority of our security agencies for now.”
Responding to questions, a Rev. Fr in Kaduna, charged the security agencies in the country to focus on ensuring that lives and property of residents of the country are safe.
“I congratulate the IGP for unveiling the new dress code for female officers. May be he thinks that will improve the security situation in the country. I don’t have anything against that.
“I am, however, appealing that the security agencies, especially, the Nigeria Police Force to do more to protect the lives of our people. Innocent people are being killed everyday in different parts of the country, especially, in Kaduna and other states in the north due to the activities of criminals with different names,” the cleric who pleaded for anonymity said.
It is, however, pertinent to call on the Nigeria Police Force to do more in its efforts to protect lives and property of Nigerians irrespective of their location.
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