“…Security is development, without development, there can be no security.”
– Robert McNamara
The rate of kidnapping in Rivers State has recently assumed an alarming and worrisome dimension. Major parts of the state are under siege and not innocuous anymore. People now move about with creeping sense of dread as abduction has become a spree which goes on unhindered, and with outright impunity too by this devilish group. In fact, the fear of kidnappers in Rivers is unfortunately the beginning of wisdom. Residents are no longer certain of their safety and safe return to the warm embrace of their loved ones at home when they leave every morning in search of succour. Families are forced to cough out ransoms running into millions of naira in exchange for their kidnapped loved ones. Businesses have suffered a great deal and life has become totally unbearable. God created us without our help but we cannot be saved without helping ourselves. Therefore, deliberate and urgent steps need to be taken by the government of Governor Nyesom Wike to stem this ugly trend and disturbing trademark of this rampaging group of predators.
Kidnapping has indeed become a nagging public nuisance yet a lucrative business which has grown into that of an exponentially thriving empire in Rivers. It has assumed the terrible dimension of a frequent deadly social malady, trending on daily basis while government of the day has lost grip of the situation and slumbers on. The list of those kidnapped at the moment is endless. There was panic as a 14-seater bus conveying passengers from Ogba-Egbema, Ndoni to Port-Harcourt was completely torched and the entire occupants whisked away in what the kidnappers, according to reports, termed exchange for their members arrested by the government. What an affront! The worst hit by this endemic marauders are three local governments – Kalabari, Asaritoru, Akukutoru and Degema. The high level of insecurity has forced Rivers people to provide personal security for themselves during weddings and before their dead loved ones could be accorded befitting burial rites. Among many victims of kidnap cases in the state still in captivity are Ibifaa Youngman, Iworimah Tariah (Mrs.),Ven. Domino, Ven Lawson, Mrs. Somiari and daughter, Dr. Amadi, Dr. Tein Douglas, Mr. Dimkpa to mention a few. At the moment, their abductors have placed not less than N100 million as ransom on them. However, how long shall Rivers continue to live in perpetual fear and this barbarism?
Before and after the governorship election, it was evident that Rivers State was sitting on a time bomb. The ominous sign that it was a matter of time before the evil seed of discord sowed by politicians germinates and the eventual explosion of the already buried landmine was obvious. Today, that seed has unfortunately grown into a Frankenstein monster, threatening the well-being of not only the creators but the entire good people of Rivers. The glaring sense of insecurity in our country today is a creation of the political class. Thugs are groomed, supported and sponsored for election rigging, only for them to turn out to be the frightening nemesis of the nation at the end of elections. When one is given an AK47 as a tool for election rigging, what does one do with it at the end? The answer lies in the infamous function of the weapon. It is a tool for harassment, intimidation, stealing, killing and destruction, as such criminals have frontally taken over the state with effusive qualms as if government does not exist. The future of Rivers is in near jeopardy if urgent steps are not taken to annihilate kidnapping.
So many factors define the helpless and hapless situation Rivers and the nation has found itself. In Nigeria, sometimes, kidnapping and all sort of brigandage are deployed as a tool for political intimidation of opponents and a price to pay for not voting for a certain political party. In the same vein, it is also an infamous “non-state actor” and tool used by those who lost elections or upset with government policies to threaten a sitting government and possibly get attention or compensation as the case may be. Idle minds are said to be the breeding ground for evil intentions. Many of those involved in this crime are unemployed youths who engage in it as a result of joblessness. With peanuts as incentives, the wishes of their masters automatically become their command which is religiously adhered to. Some have even deliberately acquired skills without take-off grants to procure working tools and most importantly, hire shops. Rivers government should encourage those who have skills with funds and identify possible ways of bridging the high rate of unemployment in the state, which forces the youths to engage in crimes and criminalities. The life of luxury exhibited by those in power and positions of authority in the midst of want and penury is a factor. As a result, some misguided elements take to criminality such as kidnapping to meet up with the demand of opulence. Another one is the growing rate of cultism in the state. Power struggle between individuals and groups fighting for territorial control and supremacy is another. Machinery aimed at persuading the warring groups to lay down arms and renounce their cult membership accompanied with better incentive should be evolved by government.
According to Kofi Annan, “Security means far more than the absence of conflict. We know that lasting peace requires a broader vision encompassing areas such as education, health democracy and human rights, protection against environmental degradation and the proliferation of deadly weapons. We know that we cannot be sure amidst starvation that we build peace without alleviating poverty and that we cannot build freedom on the foundation of injustice. These pillars of what we now understand as the people centred concept of human security are interrelated and mutually re-enforcing.” Moreover, in the words of Prof. Isaac Mbachu, “Human security demands an awareness of the particular needs of individuals as well as the state. It requires thorough consideration of the constituent parts of the society such as rule of law, education, humanitarian and health, commerce, information, military, diplomacy and governance. When human security aspects of national security are adequately addressed, it becomes much easier to guarantee full spectrum of activities that constitute national security.”
God is the ultimate security provider and people of Rivers now turn to the omnipotent more than ever for protection and preservation. The people of Rivers have the right to live. They have the right to liberty and freedom of movement. It behooves on government to ensure that the security of lives and properties are guaranteed at all times. This was part of the social contract between the government and the governed. However, security is the business of all because government cannot do it alone. Therefore, Rivers people should be ready and willing to volunteer useful information to security agencies on the activities of kidnappers to be able to nip it in the bud and for optimal performance. Brigandage, lawlessness and anarchy are progressively threatening Rivers State. Before the state turns out an unspeakable den of armed robbers and kidnappers, all hands must be on deck to save the treasure base of the nation from this mean cataclysm. Kidnapping should be confronted head-on and not be allowed to fester any more.
. The writer, Eze is a Media and Communications Specialist and publisher of thenewinsightng.blogspot.com.