In recent times, the spate of insecurity in the country has reached a shocking point, while the rate of kidnapping has become a national shame. As the Boko Haram insurgency is ravaging the northern part of the country, the southern zone is battling another form of criminality, which is kidnapping. For a country that prides itself as the largest economy in Africa, the scourge of kidnapping has become at worse, a national humiliation.
Sadly, over the years, the failure of successive governments, both at the federal or state levels to nip in the bud this malaise with a workable policy, has raised more apprehension among Nigerians as it continues to twirl out of control. Sometime ago, the peace in the southern part of the country was wedged, as some daredevil gunmen were reported to have kidnapped a former presidential candidate and National Chairman of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima at Obajana in Kogi State. The stories of kidnappings over the years have reached frightening magnitude in the country.
Victims include Chief Olu Falae; a journalist/columnist, Donu Kogbara; wife of the Deputy Managing Director of the Sun Newspaper, Toyin Steve Nwosu; a lecturer with the Delta State Polytechnic, Mr. Chike Gbenndu as well as the abduction of the Gwagwalada Diocese, Rt. Rev. Moses Tabuwaye on his way to Akwa, the Anambra State capital for a church programme amongst several others. We recall also with bitterness when two cousins of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience Egbeni and Kate Eni were abducted at Akimpelai, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Prior to this, the paramount ruler of Biokpuga in Nembe Local Government Area of the same state, Chief Thirdman Lambert was said to have been abducted by unknown gunmen. Also, in Ondo State, a former Chairman of the state’s Muslim Welfare Board, Alhaji Jimoh Ibrahim, was kidnapped by a gang of criminals demanding for N25 million for his release.
We also recall that Professor Kamene Okonjo, mother of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the erstwhile Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, who also is the queen of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo, was abducted from the Ogwashi-Uku royal palace, in Delta State. In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital some gunmen abducted Mrs. Tayo Rotimi, wife of Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the United States, Gen. Oluwole Rotimi (rtd). Apart from these high profile kidnaps, expatriates working in different locations across the country have not been spared from this barbaric act of criminality. There are also cases that were either never reported or concealed for fear of reprisal, indicating the sickening level that the kidnapping malaise has assumed in the country.
Without any iota of doubt, it has assumed an epidemic proportion, and for any person irrespective of status, creed, or religion to be abducted so cheaply in any part of the country should be unacceptable and must not tolerated. Therefore, government must urgently work to address this cankerworm squarely. Government must be proactive rather than merely reactive to the problems of kidnapping and the alarming wave of insecurity and criminality ravaging the country today.
One factor that has helped to promote kidnapping is the pretentious lifestyle of government officials and the political class. It is common to see them showing off their exotic cars amidst a system that is stricken with poverty and noticeable suffering. Millions have no jobs, and people are bitter with the system and out of the bitterness come frustration to indulge in criminal acts. Others factors responsible for such decadence are poor leadership; weak governance and the ensuing economic downturn.
We therefore urge governments at all levels to work towards the reengineering of the system and ensure they are working to create the needed growth in the economy. Though, our level of policing remains ineffective, and to tackle this malaise and other forms of criminalities there is the need to quickly re-examine the structure of policing in the country. It should be a source of worry to the government that the level of insecurity in the country has not only overwhelmed the police, but equally worrying is the proliferation of arms in the country. The infiltration of all sorts of arms shows collapse of our security system. Government should work to curb arms’ proliferation.
The fear of kidnapping has made many people uncomfortable and unwilling to visit their hometowns. Foreign embassies have continued to issue travel warnings to their nationals who are Nigeria-bound to take precautionary measures for their security, and foreign direct investment which is sensitive to environments of insecurity will be hampered. So no government worthy its name should allow this national malaise to continue unabated.
The Federal Government needs to act fast to stem the spread of this dastardly evil acts. Therefore, they should as a matter of urgency brace up to the security of lives and property in the country, as no one is immune to being kidnapped.