The general state of insecurity in the country has reached an embarrassing level and the spate of kidnapping a national disgrace. While the Boko Haram insurgency is ravaging the northern part, the south of the country is battling with another form of criminality, kidnapping.
For sometimes now, the country has been battling with this scourge, which has become a national humiliation and a scandal to a country that pride itself as the largest economy in Africa. Sadly, over the years, the failure of successive governments, both at the federal and state leves to roll out a workable policy to nip in the bud this malaise, has raised more apprehension among Nigerians as it continues to twirl out of control.
Few weeks ago, the imaginative peace was wedged, as dare-devil gunmen struck again. This time their victims are journalist/columnist, Donu Kogbara; the wife of the Deputy Managing Director of the Sun newspaper, Toyin Nwosu; a lecturer with the Delta State Polytechnic, Mr. Chike Gbenndu, as well as the abduction of Anglican bishop of Gwagwalada Diocese, Rt. Rev. Moses Tabuwaye on his way to Akwa, the Anambra State capital for a church programme.
It would be recalled also that in times past, two maternal cousins of ex-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 recall that Professor Kamene Okonjo, mother of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the erstwhile Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, who is also 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 gunmen also abducted Mrs. Tayo Rotimi, wife of Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the United States, Gen. Oluwole Rotimi (rtd). Aside these high profile cases, expatriates working in different locations across the country are not spared from this barbaric act. These and many other cases either reported or concealed for fear of ill-treatment, point clearly to the sickening level that the kidnapping malaise is daily assuming in the country.
No 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, is unacceptable. Therefore, government must urgently work to address this cankerworm squarely. Government must be proactive rather than merely reactive to the problem 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 different 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 comes the pressure to indulge in criminal acts. Other factors responsible for the high rate of crime are poor leadership, weak governance and the ensuing economic downturn.
We, therefore, urge governments at all levels to work towards a reengineering of the system to create the needed growth in the economy. There is also the need to quickly re-examine the method of policing in the country because the present one appears to be ineffective in the face of incessant crime. It’s worries me that the level of insecurity in the country has not only overwhelmed the police, but the proliferation of arms in the country as well. The infiltration of all sorts of arms shows collapse of the security system. Government must wake up to its responsibility of safe guarding lives and property.
The fear of kidnapping has however 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 much needed considering the country’s economic plight, will be hampered.
No government worthy of its name should fold its arms or do little or nothing to curb such national malaise. Therefore, we call on government to brace up to securing lives and property in the country, as no one is immune to kidnapping.