BY AGUNLOYE ADEWUNMI BASHIRU
The failure and nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government of Nigeria on the incidents of kidnappings for ransom under President Muhammadu Buhari since 2016 has made Nigerian families result in self-help to free their loved ones in the dens of kidnappers and bandits.
From 2021 to date, over 500 incidents of kidnappings were said to have been recorded with close to 4,000 Nigerians and some foreign citizens abducted across Nigeria, while some unreported cases were unknown due to the nature of Nigeria when it comes to proper data documentation.
While all these incidents of kidnappings and abductions were happening across the country, the Nigerian government left the victims of this dastardly act not the hands of these unrepentant and inhuman gangs to the extent their families had to result in self-help to set the captives free.
From July 2021 to August 2022, over One Billion Naira was reported to have been paid by Nigerians to freed victims of kidnappings and abductions. In July 2021, the sum of N250 million was paid by Nigeria Baptist Convention as ransom to the bandits that kidnapped 140 students from the Bethel Baptist College, Damishi, Kaduna State. In July 2022 alone, eight Nigerian abducted persons parted with N800 million, while a kidnapped Pakistani national paid the sum of N200 million as ransom to kidnappers.
All this is happening in a country where there is an elected government in place, a country self-acclaimed to be the giant of Africa. Ironically, the government is claiming to have spent millions of Dollars on the purchase of surveillance equipment and ammunition to combat the insurgency and banditry.
On Nigerian soil, kidnappers, bandits, and terrorists were seen holding their victim’s hostage at will for several months without the government freeing them or negotiating for their release.
Since March 2022 when bandits attacked, killed some and abducted hundreds of the passengers of the Nigerian Railways Corporation train on its way from Abuja to Kaduna, some of the abducted victims are still in the hands of their captives because they are yet to pay the asking ransoms.
The terrorists, bandits and herdsmen are having a field day in Nigeria because the government has failed to live up to the expectations of protecting the lives of the citizens it governs. There is no doubt that the present government lack the political will to deal decisively with the perpetrators of terrorist and banditry acts.
How can one explain the activities of terrorists and the bandits that is lingering for several years now without the government finding a lasting solution? The question is “Are the terrorists, bandits, and herdsmen terrorizing Nigeria more powerful than the Nigerian government?
Nigeria as a country is heading to total collapse with the myriad of insecurity being perpetrated by the terrorists’ groups such as Boko Haram, the Islamic States West Africa Province (ISWAP), bandits as well as herdsmen. The combinations of these notorious gangs have massacred and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Nigerians through their notorious and senseless activities.
Nowhere in Nigeria is safe now, from the north, east and southern parts of the country the stories are the same. Nobody can move freely from one place to another without fear of being attacked or kidnapped and this is worrisome and perplexing.
All over the world, one of the duties of the Air Force is surveillance through the air. The questions begging for answers are “How come in Nigeria the Nigeria Air Force is not able to locate the hideout of terrorists and bandits to rescue the abductors?” Are the Air Force personnel deliberately or intentionally ignoring this responsibility? Or “Are we to conclude that Nigeria Air Force does not have in their possession surveillance equipment or aircraft for monitoring or finding the hideouts of the criminals?
All these questions required urgent answers from the Nigerian Military Authorities because it is unbelievable that bandits will kidnap victims and hold them hostage for many months and even show video clips of how the kidnapped people are been tortured and no clue for the Nigerian Air Force to rescue them from their abductors.
It is not surprising at all because terrorists and bandits usually operated by abducting victims using motorbikes to transport them to their dens in convoys without them being apprehended by any security agency personnel.
What is the essence of the Nigeria Air Force and other security agencies if the terrorists and bandits can operate freely for more than two hours using motorbikes for transporting of there captives without any challenge or interception or the hideout of terrorists such as Boko Haram, Islamic States West Africa Province and Bandits cannot be exposed, destroyed and the criminals apprehended?
Many families of those victims released by the bandits after the payments of ransom sold their properties before they were able to raise the money for their release with no support from the government whose responsibility is to protect them.
In serious democratic countries such as the United States of America (USA), Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada, and many other countries, if just one citizen of those countries is kidnapped or abducted, the government security agencies will immediately swing into action to rescue the victims, or the government negotiated for the release of the abducted person.
Here in Nigeria, the reverse is the case, citizens are abandoned to their own fate by the government they voted for. What a Country!
Life of citizens is not mattered in Nigeria because many victims of kidnappers have lost their lives in the process when the ransom is not paid on time, or the victims are unable to raise funds for the ransom being asked for by the bandits.
In Nigeria, citizens are facing many socio-economic challenges ranging from insecurity, abject poverty, lack of electricity, high costs of living, poor health care system, dilapidated roads infrastructure, and high rate of unemployment.
Also, the face-off between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is lingering. This has made the academic activities in the Nigerian university to be disrupted for several months now with no assurance of when the lecturers will resume back to class, and this is adding to the already falling standard of education in Nigeria.
Corruptions from the three tiers of government in Nigeria continue with impunity and no accountability as public funds are being siphoned at will. Corrupt politicians or persons who are under investigation or convicted are being pardoned whenever they cross carpeted to the ruling party.
The legislatures at both the House of Representatives and the Senate that are supposed to checkmate the malady are toothless bulldogs because what they are after is their sitting allowances or constituency allowances as they are failing in doing their oversight functions to perform that lawful check and balance responsibility as stipulated in the constitution.
For over seven years now, Nigerians are not enjoying the dividends of democracy and the majority of the over 180 million citizens are living in abject poverty, fear, and uncertainty.
The politicians are building up to the 2023 general election, it is my belief that Nigerians would ask a series of questions bothering on failed promises and how their lives would be better off after this government might have handed over to the new government. I hope Nigerians would shine their eyes very well to choose the best.
Agunloye Adewunmi Bashiru, a Public Affairs Analyst can be reached at [email protected]