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In defence of kidnapping

November 16, 2009

The continuing alarming spate of kidnapping in Nigeria calls for careful thoughts by leaders and the led; though more is expected of the leaders.

Burgeoning as a nascent industry in Nigeria, the art (for it is fast becoming one) of capturing for ransom now daily calls for innovation on the part of its patrons and its potential victims. Nigerians and foreigners resident in the country are having to fashion ways and means of beating kidnappers to their game.

But it would surely take more than that to win this battle. Think of this scenario, for instance:

How do you combat a scheme, to kidnap for ransom either you or any member of your nuclear and extended family, deviously contrived by a member of your family inexplicably aggrieved by your alleged refusal or failure to finance his/her dreams on the understanding that you are financially buoyant enough to do so?

The Yorubas will always warn that the vegetable- killing ant resides in the bosom of the vegetable. The desperate race for quick wealth has its foothold in most, if not all, Nigerian families. But the blame for this rot is that of the leaders and the led, in equal proportion.

Kidnapping, and other vices, is symptomatic of a decaying society composed of morally bankrupt and value-deficient families. Mr. Lagbaja (not the faceless entertainer) is quick to admonish his son to tow Mr. Tamedo’s son’s money making ways without inquiring as to the true source of such over night wealth. A flirting Ms. A drives a “tear-rubber” baby Benz and has just resettled her family in a three-bedroom flat somewhere in Ikorodu; Ms. B’s parents are gutted by the fact that while their daughter’s mate is come of age and “responsible”, theirs keeps one boyfriend and wants to be a university graduate!

And what do you do when your neighbour, a public office holder, has more cars than his garage can accommodate; and has had to mark his kid’s coming of age by buying him a corolla? How much does he legitimately earn that he’s got a child schooling in Britain, another in North America while the last attends one of the costliest private schools in the country?

What do you suppose Mr. Lagbaja does in the face of all this? Aren’t Ms. B’s parents justified in their position? Isn’t legitimate gain suppose to equal selfless effort? Why do thieving members of our society receive chieftaincy titles, get called ogas, sit on the front pews in religious houses and enjoy the most public privileges?  What lessons do we expect the youths, now mostly unemployed kidnappers, to learn from all these?

My point is that no sane society expects an unemployed university or polytechnic graduate to sit and fold his arms waiting for manna from heaven. Kidnapping, like advance fee fraud, militancy and commercial sex working, is a deserved response to the void created by bad governance, immorality, corruption and the upliftment of the individual above the collective.

Ours is an ingloriously bad precedent setting approach to governance.

While Nigeria’s response to advance fee fraud and corruption was the once potent Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC], rendered impotent by the present administration; the Yar’ Adua government has chosen to pay sixty thousand naira monthly to ten thousand militants, instead of creating employment for them. Now, there is the clamour for the extension of same largesse, including amnesty, to kidnappers.

But what kind of brains designed this policy? What society repays evil doers with benefits? Why hasn’t the government thought of creating financial support services for suffering unemployed graduates who are not into crimes?

And why are advance fee fraudsters, commercial sex workers and armed robbers not included in the list of beneficiaries?

Clearly, the government-sanctioned route to partaking in the ‘national cake’ party is recourse to crimes; particularly militancy and kidnapping. Education, like being law abiding, is old school. Consequently, having put in six years to become a lawyer in Nigeria, I feel wasted by a society that prioritizes criminals above law abiding citizens. And being from a Niger-Delta state, I feel discriminated against for being left out of the list of ten thousand beneficiaries of this government windfall.

Though I didn’t take to arms to publicize the travails of my people, I have been vociferous in articulating my people’s position via social and political commentaries. In that regard, I am a ‘militant’ deserving of sixty thousand monthly, call it whatever you like, salary.

If the capacity to foment trouble is all it takes to attract government’s attention, I, like every well-educated peaceful Nigerian, have the means, albeit civilized, to destabilize the Yar’ Adua or any other government through my powerful pen.

On behalf of every well-meaning Nigerian left out of the largesse, I demand that Yar’ Adua negotiate with our “Moses Team” for the extension of the ‘national cake’ to us. Our demands are a return to true democracy, adherence to structural fiscal federalism and an immediate amendment of the constitution to reflect modern democratic trends world over: independent candidacy, independent electoral body, non-partisan judiciary, institutionalization of anti-corruption mechanisms etc.

Should my demands not be met, and my name not included in the list of ten thousand militants including the immediate payment of the arrears of my sixty thousand naira, I shall continue to write (and might have to consider kidnapping of politicians as a quicker way) about the ills of the Nigeria nation; its un-schooled leaders and her fast socio-economic and political decline. Surely, the pen is mightier than the sword.

Ohioze resides in Edmonton, Canada.