By Mukhtar Garba Kobi
The barbaric act of abducting people by some bad elements in the Northern part of Nigeria is one of the major threats to the endearing peace and economic growth; bandits operate on roads, communities and recently in institutions of higher learning. News of an unspecified number of farmers in Borno and students of Federal University Dutsen-Ma has gone viral lately; bereaved families of the victims are still in shock while many resolved to withdraw their wards from schools; this is bad looking at the importance of education to mankind and development of all. People in those areas are doubting the promises made by leaders on protecting lives and properties.
Nobody on this mother earth is above the law. In some developed countries, even incumbent leaders are forced to face the jury and account for their mischievous deeds in office. Still, unfortunately, in Africa, the existence of immunity attached to leaders gives them the audacity to do as they wish.
One of the bandits’ kingpins in the Northern part of Nigeria, Dogo Gide, released an audio message which a well-known media man, Bello Mu’azu, shared. Still, the message contained has added fuel to the blazing fire of insecurity. The dreaded Dogo Gide stated that he preferred to die as a bandit and had no interest in reconciling with the government, no matter the money given to him.
Since most of the bandits’ hideouts are known by our gallant security forces, they (bandits) could be cleared in a few days, but such only end in discussions. Public figures have made excellent attempts to mediate between bandits and governments. Unfortunately, their efforts were fruitless due to the negligence of the government. There is no way fire could be put out with the same fire, but combining the two (attacks and dialogue) would greatly help. Moreover, engaging in dialogue would pave the way for peace in most kidnapping-ravaged States. Culturing crops and businesses would regain their lost glories while students would learn without fear.
Furthermore, research conducted by SBM, which is an investigative firm, revealed that between June of 2022 and July of 2023, three thousand six hundred and twenty (3,620) people were taken hostage in five hundred and eighty-two (582) kidnap-related incidents in Nigeria. It was further uncovered that “North-West and North-Central regions exhibit higher in-kind ransom demands. This aligns with Nigeria’s poverty and its correlation with areas where food is commonly demanded. Additionally, these regions have seen a surge in motorcycle demands due to economic opportunities and possibly because of their potential use in terror activities”.
Some of the factors that fuel kidnappings include high levels of poverty and hunger; waking up empty-pocketed and nothing for family members to consume have forced many into the act, especially unemployed Fulani herders. The second factor is greed and uncontrolled love to be rich, which also persuaded many into kidnappings; shallow-minded persons often view abduction as the easiest way to get enough money to meet their daily needs. Kidnappers play vital roles in influencing their friends; they give uninterested friends convincing points while those low faculty of thinking accept the offer without a second thought on the implications of such ventures.
The mass abduction of people can be stopped if the following measures are adopted: schemes for employing youths or training them on skills have left behind several villagers, and most of the arrested kidnappers were dwellers; there is a need for the villagers to be included in whatever government came-up with. Since kidnappers have leaders, there is a need to have a virtual or physical meeting with them to know why they are kidnapping. Governments should ensure that their demands are met. Granting amnesty to repentant kidnappers would be a welcome idea, but they should not be reintegrated back into societies. They should be taken to rehabilitation homes and trained on different skills to be useful community members.
Mukhtar writes from Bauchi and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.