Police Officers Wives Association (POWA) has basic objective of improving the lives of members, women and girls, however, successive leadership have not efficiently achieved these objectives hence the commitment of the incumbent POWA President, Hajia Hajara Usman Baba, to rewrite the history of the association by prioritising welfare, education, and healthcare needs of police families among others. Chizoba Ogbeche writes.
Police Officers Wives Association (POWA) is a charitable organisation dedicated to supporting law enforcement spouses. It is comprised of a community of multi-cultural spouses and partners, and individuals who believe in thriving families and committed to enhancing the potential of families and children by supporting and addressing identified needs.
This association strives to achieve the set objectives through its involvement in education, healthcare as well as welfare of its members and women at large.
In a bid to ensure that the association played its role effectively the new leadership of POWA led by the President, Hajia Hajara Usman Baba, and her management team decided to focus on the family, which she insists was the backbone of the entire Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Speaking during her maiden visit to the Inspector general of Police, IGP Usman Baba, on May 11, 2021, the POWA President, who was accompanied by executive members of the association, said: “I must state clearly that the strength of the Police is the Police family.”
According to her, “Family is not just an important thing, it is everything. Therefore, my administration has decided to focus on the police family, which is the backbone of the entire Police Force. And as you all know wives are the gatekeepers of the home front so our husbands can keep the work front.”
Unveiling her programmes, she said: “To kick-start our theme, POWA will hold a symposium of stakeholders from across the country, where ideas will be merged to accommodate the needs and expectations of each member of POWA.
“This symposium will illustrate POWA’s first effort as follows: Design programmes, polices and initiatives comprehensive enough to address the police family’s concerns as a whole;
“Spark a cultural and institutional change in which police wives will play active role in the success of the force as a whole;
“Increase membership and participation of POWA members and develop each member’s capacity towards the achievement of the objectives as outline above.”
According to her, “We will build the theme on three main pillars: health, education, and welfare. These thematic pillars capture the significant concerns of police families, and when viewed holistically, addressing these three pillars will transform the police family from dependents to co-contributors that can support the officers on the field both financially, mentally, and otherwise.”
The POWA President further stated that the theme of the maiden symposium as: Police Family From dependence To Interdependence.
Speaking further, she said the revival of the POWA Microfinance Bank and its expansion to the 17 Police Zones across the country, was also top of her administration’s programmes to bring all police families into the formal economy and drastically improve their access to affordable credit and help them develop a 21st century banking and saving culture.
“The Microfinance Bank will also provide access to capital for families of the junior officers and retired personnel of the force to start small and medium scale enterprises, with potential for scale up,” she stated.
Campaign against drugs
The POWA President further stated that the association under her leadership would launch a nation-wide campaign against substance, drugs and alcohol abuse, which has been a big problem in the country.
“Nearly every Nigerian family, police inclusive, is affected by substance abuse in one form or another. We propose a nation-wide awareness campaign, sensitisation, and counselling that will add up in establishing a POWA Substance Abuse rehabilitation centre (PSARC) which will strengthen the existing network of police medical facilities to achieve nation-wide impact.”
POWA bakery, garment coy
Similarly, Mrs Baba disclosed that her administration was also planning, “The establishment of POWA Bakery with presence in the 17 police zones across the country which will utilise the exclusive police family network as employee, off-takers, distributors and consumers.
“The establishment of POWA Garment Company which will specialise in the production of uniforms for the police; police training institutions; military; other uniformed organisations; and prospective civilian clients.
“The establishment of POWA Community Centres in the 36 state and the FCT as a focal point for POWA activities in the community and will provide adult classes, skill acquisition programmes; sports; arts; and musical programmes for all ages in partnership with NGOs, CSos and international development partners.
“The setting up of incubation hubs to support start-up and existing SMEs which will be funded through the POWA Microfinance Bank and will serve as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, providing office space, business and management training and assist in accessing funds through the POWA Microfinance bank.”
While calling on all hands to be on deck to achieve the set goals, the POWA president commended the Police management team led by the IGP, the POWA officers and state chapters of the association as well as all police families for their support to the association.
‘Purposeful leadership is key’
On his part, IGP Baba tasked the POWA President and her executive to strive towards providing selfless and purposeful leadership that will strengthen the association towards sustaining the attainment of its lofty goals.
The Police boss, who congratulated the new executive on assumption of duty, noted that: “POWA is an association that assists in stabilising our home front as we, your husbands, step out of our homes in the service of the nation. It has evolved over the years to become a unique body that binds the families of the serving officers together.
“Aside championing the interests and welfare of wives and families of police officers, the association is also a strong empowerment body that embarks on the projects that are known to have been adding value to the lives of families of officers.
“Beyond these, POWA is a bridge of friendship between the Force, the military and other sister security agencies.
“It is my expectation that the POWA President and her executive team will strive towards providing selfless and purposeful leadership that will strengthen the association towards sustaining the attainment of these lofty goals.”
Speaking further, the IGP said: “I do appreciate that the task ahead of you will be enormous. I, however, have no doubts that you and your team have what it takes to lift POWA to the next level.
“I have listened attentively to you remarks and I am highly delighted about your new vision for the association. As you pursue your leadership agenda, you can always count on me and members of the Force Management Team to support you.”
The IGP, however, advised the new executive against building and selling of shops which has been causing problems for the association all over the country.
“Everywhere there are shops and they are causing problems. Diversify and do other things that will generate revenues, provide skill acquisition for your members and promote entrepreneurship.
“I don’t mean to kill your zeal. I will always assist any programme that demands my attention. I urge senior officers to encourage their wives to join POWA because it is coming with new programmes, agenda that will reinvigorate the association,” the police boss stated.
Anti-drug campaign berths in Lagos
Worried by the proliferation of beer parlours in Police barracks POWA President during a recent visit to Lagos state decried the negative influence of the development on children and the future of Nigeria.
Mrs Baba, who was on a three-day working visit to meet with POWA members in the state and also access the police children’s school, with a view to improving facilities, said such beer parlours should be cited at a given metre from the barracks as stipulated by law.
According to the association’s president, to address the development she would send a signal to the Force headquarters for the relocation of beer parlours from police barracks.
Addressing POWA members at the POWA Hall, Ikeja, she said: “During my inspection I saw a lot of beer parlours in barracks. I know it is you people that encouraged such. You should speak to your husbands to follow the rules and regulations of the barracks.
“I grew up in the barracks because my father was a policeman. Then, there was no beer parlour and with the future of our children in the barracks, we should be careful because these children are more intelligent than us.
“We are going to send signals immediately, for the relocation of the beer parlours. If you don’t keep to it, you will be ejected out of the barracks.”
Mrs Baba also lamented the dirty state of barracks in Lagos and announced the commencement of environmental sanitation, every Saturday.
“What I saw at the barracks was devastating. The barracks was unkempt. It was very dirty. If there is no sanitation nationwide, can’t you sanitize yourself? Or don’t we have barracks leaders? There is going to be sanitation henceforth. It is going to be a continuous exercise until we are retired,” she stated.
POWA president, who said most policemen were demoralised due to the happenings in the country, admonished members and other police wives to be supportive of their spouses by being submissive.
According to her, it was not the time to nag at home because it goes a long way to affect their husbands’ efficiency at work.
New face of POWA
POWA President on July 9, 2021, unveiled the new face of POWA and her 3-point agenda: Empowerment of our women and youth; Lending a voice to the plight of POWA women, children, and police women; as well as Improving the well being of wives and children of the police; at her inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) with the theme: Policing with Quality Parenting Strategy and Life After retirement.
Addressing the two-day programme, she said: “This Joyous occasion is meant to unveil the new face of POWA and her three point’s agenda under my watch as I mark 66 days in office.
“We are set to transform the lives of Police families through better health care, education, and welfare package.
“Our gathering at this convention is quite symbolic as it witnesses today for the first time under my leadership the bringing together of wives of Deputy Inspectors General (DIGs); Assistant Inspectors General (AIGs); senior female police officers; national executive and chairpersons of POWA across the nation with the aim of harmonising our unity of purpose as we discuss the way forward for POWA.”
Speaking further she said: “POWA has not been in existence for some time now but with the fatherly disposition and passion of the IGP Baba who saw the need for women to be empowered and for equal representation for the female gender as he deemed it fit to set the ball rolling.
“I am coming onboard with new hope and expectations to change the face of POWA across board, bringing oneness, prosperity, and positive results across all police formations as captured in my three-point agenda.
“My 66 days in office has been characterised with various empowerment programmes where fashion designing equipment; freezers; sewing machines; grinding machines; as well as other items worth millions of naira was given out to the less privileged and to the wives of deceased officers.
“Free medical outreach was extended to female police officers; police wives; and children across police hospitals.
“I initiated the physical fitness exercise across all police formations to keep body and soul together. Constant environmental sanitation exercise was initiated across police formations to cater for our environment.
“I have constantly visited police children schools where the pupils are motivated and supplied with free learning materials and scholarships awarded towards securing our women, children, and other loved ones.”
The association’s president also admonished them to respect and remain loyal to their husbands at all times, vowing that she would not tolerate members disrespecting their husbands because of POWA.
“If your husband stops you from joining POWA, please, don’t come. I will not welcome you. Obey and respects your husbands,” she warned.