Good things are beginning to happen to the Nigerian Police, as talented artists under the aegis of United Reels for Africa (URA), has started changing the drab and sometimes offensive outlooks of police stations all over Lagos with friendly artistic illustrations. The organisation, which is aided by the United States Embassy in Abuja, has trained many young artists from different schools, particularly Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech), to carry out the assignment of bringing the police closer to the people with beautiful paintings.
Founder of the organisation, Miss Sola Ajayi, said the gesture of beautifying police stations was to use works of arts to communicate to the public about the importance of the police to the society and the need to correct the wrong impression most people have about the police.
Ajayi said the project was part of efforts to train Nigerian students to learn more about how art works in real life. “We gathered some of the youths from YABATECH and other institutions as well as some experts from the United States. We ran a programme for youths in Nigeria called Public Arts Nigeria, which is an opportunity for youths to learn and practice arts in various communities across the country.
“We partnered with a group in the U.S. called the Meridian International Centre and we keyed into security and we decided to work with the Nigerian Police in a bid to spread and send positive messages about the police to the public. This is the first project we are doing and we intend to extend it to other police formations.
“The foundation is basically trying to pass messages to the public to always come to the police at any time to give them information that would lead to arrest of criminals and to make their environments safe for living. People should not be scared to walk into police stations to talk to police officers and to always ensure that their information is genuine. We believe that the messages would also help in changing the psyche of policemen and for them to know that people are looking at them.”
Ajayi informed that the pictures inscribed on the walls of the police stations convey some messages to the public and even the police, too, noting, “We have the symbol of peace, which represents a protector, which refers to the police. A lot of symbols of peace, security and warmth are displayed for people to see and understand. How they should welcome people and for them to be more civil in the discharge of their duties.”
Deputy Public Relations Officer of the U.S. Consulate, Mr. Frank Sellin, who said the project was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, stated that young people from both public and private institutions involved in the project is an indication that there is hope for the young people in Nigeria, Africa and hope for improved security.
Sellin also said that choosing the police in Lagos was significant and perfect engagement of the youths in the move to enhance the security of Nigeria, adding, “We want to see more community efforts. We want to see more young people coming up with ideas about how to strengthen the security and peace of the nation.
“It was a perfect example of civic engagement between the young people and the government as well as the police command that we love to see. I love the drawings, the picture of the mother and the child she is protecting.”
Area Commander in charge of Area F Police Command, also an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Mrs. Yetunde Longe, whose police station was painted by the young artists, said the move was a right step towards endearing the police into the hearts of the people.
“We thank the Inspector-General of Police for approving this. It is a welcome development. Police are peacemakers; people should be free to relate with the Nigeria Police.”