By Emmanuel Udom
Bassy, Etim, (35), a mass communication graduate from The Polytechnic, Calabar, Cross River state, is presently working as a contract security officer in Lagos.
He was fired as a bank worker in 2018 and out of frustrations became a private security officer, earning N20, 000 every month from his location, to run his family of three children.
Happiness Nwafor, (18), a WACE-holder from Orlu in Anambra state, is receiving N25, OOO every month, also working as a contract security officer at a top hotel located in Ikeja GRA, Lagos. She is single and lives with her parents around Mangoro, Lagos.
Recently, these officers complained to this writer about what they termed the slaves wages and poor working conditions in the private security sector that is frustrating them from making ends meet.
Moved by their pains, this writer contacted Gbenga Komolafe, General-Secretary, Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria, FIWON, for funding to go on a fact-finding/investigative mission at some private security companies operating in the country.
With funding secured from the Gbenga Komolafe-led FIWON, this writer joined a private security training academy, names withheld, located around Ikeja, Lagos, for a 2-week training on the nitty-gritty of becoming a private security officer in Nigeria.
The lecturer, Alex, obviously a grounded security teacher, drilled us, intending officers, on what he termed the security operation procedure: SOP- an internationally conceptualized and accepted dos-and-don’t for private security companies and operatives all over the world.
The SOP defined security as the safety or protection of the lives and properties of individuals, corporate bodies, groups, states, or nations, etc, from threats and risks of all kinds.
He also talked about access control, dog management, gates management, sanctions, rewards, liabilities, terms and conditions for private security officers, neatness and punctuality, among others.
With the classes over, this writer was issued with a personal-bio-data-form, containing two forms to be filled by his guarantors and instructed to fill and return the form with his CV, six passport photographs, a formal application letter, and photocopies of his credentials and certificates.
The first week of April this year, a customize uniform, booth and other regalia were handed over to this writer by the area commander of the private security company, with an instruction to report at a motor company, located along Lagos-Apapa expressway, Lagos.
He was placed on a 24-hour beat, meaning working 15 out of 30 days in a month.
At the location, the commander and chief security officer, reeled out the rules-coming to work before 6.30 am, indecent dressing, refusal to polish his booth, failure in identifications and documentations, sleeping, or eating while on duty, etc, attracts debits at the end of the month. Meaning, the meager salaries of the officers were being threatened.
It was also noted that if a pin is stolen while on duty, the entire security team could be the first in the line of suspects and police could be called in for arrest, investigations and the matter charged to court in preparation for prison.
However, the angle that broke the Carmel’s back was when this writer was told point-blank that despite his ‘intimidating qualifications’ and considering the fact that the basic qualification for private security officer is the ability to read and write, N22,000 was to be paid as his monthly salary.
This writer worked for 2-weeks from April 1, this year, on a 24-hour beat and crashed out mid-April, this year, when he was down with typhoid, malaria and stress and landed in hospital for a week.
The A-list private security companies operating in Nigeria are: McDon Security, TechnoCrime Security Nigeria Ltd, KingsGuard, Damog Guards, Halogen Security, Eyespy Security Service Limited, Ashaka Security Company, and Proton Security Company Limited. Others are: Transworld, Mega Guards, G4S, Zoomlens, Evergreen, Kind David and Sherperdhill. These companies have national and international spread and operations.
Investigations however reveal that beyond the fancy and customize uniforms contract private security officers wear, N30, 000 on the average are paid to some of these officers.
Truth is that some private security officers earn as low as N10, 000, N15, 000 and N18, 000 every month and work 30 days a month. Slave wages, you must say.
But, no officer is cock sure of receiving these amounts in one piece monthly after being exposed to the elements-day and night, with no insurance or retirement benefits.
An officer in one of the companies said that he was receiving N20, 000 when he was working at a private residence in Lekki, Lagos.
“But, my salary was increased to N28, 000 last year, when I was re-deployed to a telecommunication company in Ikeja”, he said.
Payments for private security officers are always on a 70:30 ratio says Richard Amuwa, managing director, Mega Guards Security Services, Abule Egba, Lagos.
Meaning, when a private security company quotes N50, 000 per guide to their clients, the guide assigned to the location ought to be paid N35, 000.
But, most of the private security officers, who spoke off records with this writer in the last one month, insist that very, very few officers are earning this much, except supervisors, patrol officers and chief security officers or those hired directly by individuals, corporate bodies, or multi-national companies, without going through private security companies.
It is the business of the ministry of interior to regulate the operations of private security companies operating in the country, through the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC. But, Seun Abolurin, Lagos NSCDC spokesman said the corps only regulates private security companies, not payments to their officers.
It is noted that these private security companies, set out with the mindsets of filling the gaps in assisting government security agencies to tackle insecurity, have ended up in desperate moves for profits and mega-contracts, almost to the detriment of their hired officers.
These chief executive officers of these private security companies are insisting that the federal government and the police should co-opt the estimated 5million private security officers in the country into the national security architecture, to tackle insecurity headlong.
They argued that about 5million private security officers, as the closest people to the grassroots in the 774 local government areas of Nigeria, with an estimated population of 200million, have the capacity, though unarmed, to tackle insecurity, headlong.
The late security expert, Dr Patrick Keku, managing director of Pahek Security Services, Dr Davidson Akhimien, managing director of King David Security Limited, Dr Ona Ekhomu, managing director of Transworld Security, Richard Amuwa, managing director of Mega Guards Security, are some of the experts, that have been pushing for this in the last one decade.
This fact-finding / investigative piece was funded by Gbenga Komolafe, General-Secretary, Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria, FIWON. His NGO trains domestic workers in human rights, how to form credit and cooperatives, disputes resolution and how to negotiate minimum standards on hours of work, leave, maternity and retirement benefits. FIWON could be reached on: 08133428339, 09077768777, 09022210940