IN Abuja and across some of the states, brand new police operational cars have been sighted with the name of the African richest man, Aliko Dangote, written on them as the donor.
On the bonnet and both door sides of the white painted patrol vehicles, “donated by the Dangote Foundation” are boldly written on the police cars.
The recognition of the sponsor did not just come with the name alone but also the logo of Dangote Group – an eagle mounting on the red blaze that appears like a half moon horizon.
Looking at the police cars from afar, both the name and logo of Dangote Group are more visible than that of the police.
Except for the light bars atop the cars, a casual onlooker will not easily recognise the cars as belonging to the police because the white-painted cars deviated from the usual blue and black colours associated with the Nigeria Police vehicles.
The police patrol cars bearing these unique colours and logos are 150 but there is a likelihood of more of these types of cars if the police demonstrate proper maintenance of this first batch. That was the promise that Dangote made at the presentation of the cars to the police in May.
The 150 Trumpchi GA3S cars were made by Guangzhou-based automobile manufactuerer (GAC Group), an independent Chinese auto brand. The car cost about N7 million in the market depending on the specification.
At the handover ceremony in Abuja, the Vice-President, Yemi Osibanjo, praised Dangote for the donation.
“The donation of 150 cars to the Nigerian Police Force is laudable and we thank Aliko Dangote Foundation for this rare gesture; that is characteristic of the person of Aliko Dangote. He has shown over the years to be an entrepreneur with a difference, a man that gives willingly to the poor,” Osinbajo said.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, described the donation as the biggest ever made to the police by a private sector operator.
The question is whether it is right for police vehicles to carry the names and logos of the donors or is it just a privilege being accorded to Dangote.
Should these cars branded with Dangote be used for operational duties by the police?
As these cars are being used for operation by the police, do they undermine the trust, integrity, and safety of the police as a law enforcement agency?
Does this branding conflict with professional and policing identity?
A security analyst, Ben Okezie, told The ICIR that having individual or private entity’s name on police vehicles is an aberration that should not be allowed.
He said police could accept cars donated by individuals or private organisations but the names of the sponsors should not be written on police patrol cars.
“If this has been done, we should take it as an error,” Okezie said. “It is a big error. It should be corrected and stopped. Such a thing should not occur again.”
Okezie said he had travelled to several countries and had not seen police cars bearing the names of individuals or corporate organsiations.
“It is not appropriate security-wise all over the world. You don’t do that. It is an error they want to bring into the Nigerian system,” Okezie said.
He asked whether the police would use the same vehicles bearing the names of the donors to arrest the donors or members of their families in the enforcement of the law.
Okezie suggested that donors could use the occasion of presenting the cars to publicise their philanthropy but should not go to the extent of branding police patrol cars with their names because such a practice demeans the police.
Not everyone sees Dangote’s branded police cars as posing any security or integrity issue.
“Personally speaking, there is no adverse implication if individuals or corporate bodies are donating to the police and putting their logos. It should be seen as a joint effort,” said a legal practitioner, Marcel Oru.
Oru said if the government had funded the police adequately, there would not have been any need for individuals or corporate bodies to donate vehicles to the police. He said even when the government has budgeted for the police; the full money was never released to the police.
“That is why individuals are assisting the police, including the states. “There is nothing wrong with that. If Dangote does that, he should actually be commended,” Oru said.
The Head of Corporate Communications of Dangote Group, Anthony Chiejina told the ICIR that Dangote should be commended for donating the cars, rather than the contention about his name and logo on police patrol cars.
Chiejina, however, said it is left for the police to either retain the brand on the operational cars or remove it.
The ICIR contacted the Police Public Relations Officer, Moshood Jimoh, to find out the position of the police authority on branded police patrol cars with names of corporate organisations and individuals but he neither answered his phone calls nor responded to a text message.
An outdoor advertising practitioner who did not want to be named told The ICIR that the advertising value of having a private entity’s brand on police patrol cars runs into hundreds of millions of naira. He wondered if this privilege is only being given to Dangote and whether other corporate bodies should also be allowed to buy operational vehicles to police and their brand imprinted boldly on them.
“There is no serious company that will not jump at such incredible marketing. Do you know what it means to have the police advertising your brand across the federation? How much does a billboard cost?” he said.
Have your say
Do you think it is appropriate for police patrol cars to be branded with Dangote Foundation and logo because the cars were donated by him? Tweet your opinions with the #DangotePoliceCars. The ICIR will track the conversations and do follow-up stories.