1.1 Background of the Study
Public relations are the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. The aim of public relations by an organization often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions (Robert, 2003).
The Nigeria police is arguably the most visible agent of government and citizens often assess the character of a government through its police force. This is because the police are the “guardians” of society (Akanbi, 2004). To a large extent, the growth, actions and behaviours of the police as an institution, not only reflect the political and economic character of society, but also mirror what those in power are willing or able to tolerate or condone or perhaps even demand of the police (Charles, 2005). Thus any adequate analysis of the problems and challenges of the Nigeria Police must start with the appreciation of the history and dynamics of its development, which from its infancy in 1861 was characterised and cultured in impunity, incivility, brutality, a lack of transparency and accountability all of which eventually metamorphosed into large scale corruption. This however is not a presentation on the development or growth of the Nigeria Police no matter how relevant it is to the present regrettable situation.
There is no reason to believe that police officers as individuals are necessarily of a stronger moral fibre by upbringing or training than any other member of society. However, when a police officer is found wanting, or worst still violates the law, the outrage expressed by society is at its highest. This is simply because the deviance of a police officer “betrays” the confidence and trust of society and worst still, taints the entire organization (Akanbi, 2004).
The challenges of Nigeria police are many. Besides poor remuneration, living in a squalor, the presence of a policeman scares a Nigerian rather than gives confidence. About four out of every ten Nigerian will always have a bitter story or a bad experience to share about the police (Becker, 2006). Many slang terms, often considered derogatory or offensive, exist for police officers. These terms are rarely used by the police themselves and instead are used by criminals, prisoners, or by the general public Ask the bus driver, taxi driver, traders, and shopkeepers who are accosted on a daily basis by armed police officers who demand bribes and commit human rights abuses against them as a means of extorting money.
A typical Nigerian would rather not have anything to do with the police. Some call them all kinds of names and would avoid them like a plague. Right or wrong, the police should be worried if the public has no confidence in them. Reports abound of high-level police officials who embezzle staggering sums of public funds meant to cover basic police operations (Hagher, 2002). Extortion, embezzlement, and other corrupt practices by Nigeria’s police undermine the fundamental human rights of Nigerians. The police are alleged to frequently extort money from the public at taxi stands, in marketplaces, or from people going about their daily lives.
The police stations are extortion camps. Even victims of robbery or other types of crime pay “homage” before their cases are handled. Popular for its check-point activities, most extortions occur at police roadblocks, ostensibly put in place to combat crime (Becker, 2006). These checkpoints are a lucrative venture for the police who routinely demand bribes from drivers and passengers alike. On many occasions, the check-points were abolished but several illegal check-points abound. Some officers would say theirs are not check-points but ‘stop and search’. No matter what it is called, the stop and search or the checkpoint is like a two-edged sword. Tail, the officer wins, head the ordinary citizen loses.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The presence of a policeman scares a Nigerian rather than gives confidence. About four out of every ten Nigerian will always have a bitter story or a bad experience to share about the police. Many slang terms, often considered derogatory or offensive, exist for police officers. These terms are rarely used by the police themselves and instead are used by criminals, prisoners, or by the general public Ask the bus driver, taxi driver, traders, and shopkeepers who are accosted on a daily basis by armed police officers who demand bribes and commit human rights abuses against them as a means of extorting money. The problem necessitating this study is therefore what is the role of public relations in rebranding the Nigeria police force.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are:
i. To examine the image of the Nigeria police in the minds of Nigeria.
ii. To ascertain the negative images of Nigeria police force.
iii. To examine the public relations strategies of rebranding the Nigeria Police Force.
iv. To examine the challenges of using public relations strategies in rebranding the Nigeria police force.
v. To determine the benefits of rebranding the Nigeria Police Force using public relation strategies.
1.4 Research Question
i. What image does the Nigeria Police portrays in the minds of Nigerians?
ii. To what extent do you think the Nigeria police have a negative image?
iii. To what extent can the pre-strategies be used in rebranding the Nigerian Police force?
iv. What are the challenges of using public relations strategies in rebranding the Nigeria police force?
v. What are the benefit of rebranding the Nigeria Police Force using Public Relation Strategies?
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is the hope of the researcher that this study will go a long way in helping the Federal Government of Nigeria in acknowledging the significance of public relation in rebranding the police force.
The study is also intended to assist future Public Relations practitioners in this field in knowing the level of impact they can make on their publics, particularly, their internal publics so as to achieve its aims.
This project will serve as a references material to study in similar field of study, most especially the student of mass communication.
Finally, it will go a long way to clear the misconception that some parts of the internal publics have about the PR department and bring it to the limelight for ease of access.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The main focus of this study is to assess the effectiveness of public relation strategies in re-branding the Nigeria police force a study of Edo State Police Headquarter, Benin.