The kidnap of Professor Olayinka Adegbehingbe, an orthopedic surgeon of Obefemi Awolowo University, Ife (who reports said had been released at the time of this report), is a confirmation that, unlike the ruling party’s zoning of offices in the National Assembly, the menace of kidnapping has a national spread. No zone has been ‘marginarlised’ in the rising trade, perhaps, profession of kidnapping.
As the President acknowledged that the Acting Inspector-General of Police had lost weight fighting hydra-headed insecurity, it was the Osun State Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Abiola Ige, and the Area Commander for Ife, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Funso Adegboye, who got the man released without losing weight. We do not know if they lost cash, a highly probable thing, though they would never own up to it. The security agencies never admit paying ransom, but those for whom kidnapping is not the proverbial ‘strangers corpse,’ who have had their relatives released with police intervention, know that they pay ransom. In this instance, the police have been silent on whether they parted with money to the kidnappers, though the money would be sourced by relatives of the kidnapped professor. I had just typed the last sentence when the Professor revealed that a ransome of N5. 04m [Five million and forty five thousand naira] was paid for his release. He confirmed that he was held by seven Fulani people, perhaps herders, or Boko Haram agents.
The nation is under siege of insecurity. No zone has been marginalised in the matter. Kidnapping was not part of the stories that came from the South-West in the past. Every zone now has a good measure of insecurity. All eyes used to be focused on the North East, where the intractable Boko Haram insurgency sprouted, and has given the nation a hard run, expanding like a bloated balloon into counties like Chad and Niger Republic. Herdsmen became a rather ugly complement to the killer squad, which communities in Benue and Plateau states will never erase in their memories, not only for making them strangers in their land via forcible entry of internally displaced peoples camps, but also for sending fathers, infants, wives, siblings, sons and daughters to the great beyond. We can now count safe places in Nigeria on our fingertips. The nation has come face-to-face with hydra-headed security infractions. In one day, a newspaper reported the invasion of gunmen in Plateau Polytechnic, where the registrar’s sister was their target, same day the professor in Ife fell a victim. The newspaper reported the kidnap of a daughter and father in Ondo, and the abduction of a National Youth Service Corps member in Borno. The next day, Boko Haram made a desperate move to enter Maiduguri.
The Abuja-Kaduna highway has become a den of kidnappers. The country is buffeted on all sides. It would seem that in spite of the loss of weight, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, theIGP, has come to his wit’s end. The Senate did not let the press into its closed-door meeting with him.
Studies have shown that Nigeria is probably suffering the effect of over-population or bad economy. I am minded to throw my weight, given that I have not lost it like the Ppolice boss, to the later, rather than the former. Nigeria’s population is nothing near China’s or India’s, and people do not get kidnapped or killed like car tyres running over ants on the road, like they do here. The devil has created jobs for idle hands in kidnapping, banditry, and sundry security infractions. In stagnant or declining economies like Nigeria’s, government takes the precautionary measure of throwing more money into its various security apparatuses. Government must increase the number of policemen in the land, and equip them. You don’t send them to apprehend people whose equipment make theirs look like war relics from a museum. There are little signs that government has declared an emergency on insecurity, which ought to be the right step. The IGP says 10,000 people would soon be added to the police, but equipment is as important as personnel. Government has no choice than to throw more money to strengthen the police. I understand the IGP has set up a 15-member committee to re-examine the security situation and perhaps broach the matter of state police, which some past IGPs had placed on the category of anathema.
Now the chickens have come home to roost. It would be dangerous to travel on road with a vehicle that has the sticker of your office, if you work in a prosperous place. If no new jobs are created, those now at work are at risk. The challenge of leadership is to rise in difficult times and show the way. It was the famous motivational writer, Napoleon Hill, who wrote that “tough times do not last but tough people do.”
Those who crave political office, and have got it, must now show why they have it. The nation needs someone the people will queue behind. I submit that whatever measures are taken without fixing the economy is like two workers carrying sand from their ends to fill the space where the other took the sand. At the end of the day, they have only dispensed energy on nothing. The Federal government has offered cattle herders N100 billion over a two-year period, but they want N160 billion. It would seem that crime pays in Nigeria. Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danmbazau, led the team to offer them the money. Government has surrendered to criminals.
If this stems the tide of kidnapping in the North, then Boko Haram would place a demand on government. The insurgents could ask for the nation’s annual budget. The problem lies squarely on the doorstep of bad economy, where jobs go by the day, and there is no cushion for the army of unemployed people. If the economy remains comatose, then insecurity would have been democratised.