KIDNAP FOR RANSOM: LONG TENURE AHEAD
Did you hear Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the man whose style of fighting corruption was almost marred by too much air and was almost of no effect, except in the cases of enemies of his boss, OBJ? He had made a name shouting over the rooftop about corruption but only in the cases of those who dared to be different from the erstwhile generalissimo. You remember that he chained and dragged to prison and the courts these men, just to satisfy his boss and to be heard and called a hero.
Now, he has a point. Governors and local government bosses move over 10 billion US Dollars monthly to foreign accounts. Some, he said, returned the huge sums of money in pretense and invested heavily in the stock market. Very good revelation!
Now, did you watch the sorry state of pension administration in Nigeria, where old men and women are made to stand and collapse under the rain and sun because some big shots in Abuja want to be sure that they are still alive and should be paid the paltry sum? Did you hear Prof. Ben Nwabueze, a statesman, who stated quite unequivocally that the solution is revolution, because the situation has got so bad and its terrible condition is worsening by the day? Did you hear TY Danjuma, the retired army general who has lived on the Nigeria state since 1966? He had declared that there was no need for revolution as Nigeria, in his estimation, was on course.
Of course, you remember that this was the man who recently sold an oil block in the Niger Delta, where he made a profit of over 500 million Pound Sterling. His biggest problem was that he didn't know how to spend the money while the immediate and pressing problem of Nigerians is how to get the next meal.
If you have heard all these, now consider the retort of one captured kidnapper: 'Anybody who thinks kidnapping should be abandoned should first all get those who kidnap Nigeria with Ghana-must-go, GMG bags, to have a rethink.' Quite a point!
When then Inspector General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo, thundered across a parade ground that poverty is not an excuse for engaging in the business of kidnapping, you begin to wonder what else can be the reason for the risky business. If you remember, the captured kidnapper had said, 'yes, we have a big man who organises the business. He is rich and has no worries, but the reason many of us, his soldiers, are happily working for him is that we are well paid.' And, he added: 'Before now, I had no job after my master's degree.'
Did you hear that? Goodness! Did you get the drift? A young Nigerian graduate forced to work for a marauder, as the 'big man,' because that is the only way to be sure of the next meal.
Now, can you compare this with the injunction of the police boss who knows that it is because of poor welfare and sometimes absence of any remuneration that causes his men, on the roadblocks, to make collection of 'roger' a national security policy?
If I may ask the police chief, how many new blocks of police quarters have been built in Nigeria in the last 10 years? Which single police hospital has been built and equipped for at least the families of policemen, in the last decade? Why are the guns used by the kidnappers better than the ones Nigerian authorities make available to policemen? And, what percentage of Nigerians joins the police force on merit, not forced to pay bribe to be screened and recruited?
Now compare it with the number of big shots from the police who become virtual bank owners, billionaire players in the stock market, etc, just after leaving service. Compare that scenario with such other Nigerians who earn unspeakable amounts of money for doing nothing, but just for being close to the centre of power in Nigeria.
Recently, fracas had erupted in the National Assembly where some secret deals led to public fighting, expulsion of some members and eventual disclosure of heinous spending and 'earning' in the ultimate national forum.
In a nation where the hospitals do not work; where education is virtually dead; where there is no definite programme of developing and engaging the youth, and generally where anything goes, the least you can get is survival of the fittest. Self-help! And why not?
It is then a wonder that people in authority conduct themselves as if they miss the point that kidnapping for ransom is a natural phase that must follow the level of neglect and refusal to apply the resources of the nation to where it will be of value to the higher number.
If then it is said, in the Igbo world, that 'no man stands while grasses grow under his feet,' it is surprising that we are shocked at the eruption of the kidnap business in our society. It should indeed, be expected. And maybe after that, we now go into killing, hacking to pieces and selling the human parts, right there on the butcher's table in the open market.
Indeed, rather than wobble and shuffle along and end up the way of the old men and women who are dragged under the rain and sun to be verified for pension, the youths are, expectedly, taking the bull by the horn.
The word of one defiant young man captures it. 'No section of the society should be made to be rich and oppressive while another is made to carry the watering can. If some people are going to be looters and self-appointed leaders, we will share in their loot any time we gain access to their homes!' Did you hear that?
Of course, every person wants and prays that this kidnap business ends as it is clear that nobody is safe. But does it not amount to day- dreaming to ever hope that it will end when we have made no efforts at rescuing the situation?
It is not a matter of screaming, sending crack teams, storming the bushes why pythons lie in waiting for hapless police ratings. It is a matter of giving hope, providing the infrastructure or foundation for a thousand legitimate enterprises to spring up and give people self-worth. It is a matter of equipping hospitals to give hope to people; building or reactivating industries to engage the youth.
Mr. President recently said that we should not expect miracles in the case of power. Frank talk though, but recess of hope, for correcting the anomalies.
Do you also remember that nothing serious is known to be currently undertaken to improve our education, where we should be producing focused youth whose conscience can be active.
Now, you see why the business of kidnapping has come to stay.