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Insecurity: Jonathan, Buhari paid ransom to kidnappers, bandits –Obasanjo

…advocates carrot and stick approach in fighting insecurity
…says 2023 watershed in Nigeria’s survival
…warns minority’ll be oppressed if Nigeria breaks up

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday alleged that contrary to denial from the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan and current President Muhammadu Buhari, both have indulged kidnappers by paying them ransoms. He, however, submitted that the government must develop means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of ransom payments.

Obasanjo, who spoke when members of the Tiv Professionals Group (TPG) paid him a courtesy visits at his Penthouse residence located within Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, also expressed the fear that if the 2023 elections fail to birth the emergence of a new federation in Nigeria, the country may “slide into ground dissolution”.

The former President, who lamented the insecurity challenges in the country, insisted that the 2023 election must mark a watershed for Nigeria. The former President insisted that the leaders of the country must make 2023 generations count, saying: “I do believe that whatever else we do, we have to make the year 2023 a watershed for Nigeria.

“The year 2023 should give us the beginning of emergence of a new federation or feeling that the rot continues, and then, we are going to be sliding back to ground dissolution. God forbid.” Obasanjo said he does not believe in payment of ransom to kidnappers and bandits as it encouraged the criminals indulging in the act. The former President suggested that a “carrot and stick” approach must be adopted to fight insecurity challenges to a standstill. He said: “Some people are still reaching out, and hoping that lives can still be saved. But a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly.

This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage. But if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it. “Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government (Buhari), even during Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”

Obasanjo stressed that those clamouring for the secession of Nigeria are selfish and do not consider the interest of the minority ethnic groups. “If you major tribes decide to break up from the country, where do you want the minority ethnic groups to stand. That, many Nigerians don’t know about, unfortunately. “Where do we want those minor groups to stand? Wherever they stand, now they are by virtue of Nigeria’s present situation a little bit protected.

But if Nigeria breaks up and they are in a smaller country, they will be oppressed. They will always be exterminated. Are we thinking of that? “I believe that if we will get it right in Nigeria, any leader must look at Nigeria with the prism of the diversity of Nigeria. For as long as you look at Nigeria with the prism of your ethnic group, then you aren’t going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group. “But is there hope? There is hope.” Presenting a paper earlier, leader of TPG, Prof Zacharys Anger Gundu told Obasanjo that “blood is flowing in Benue State” following killings of the people allegedly by Fulanis and bandits”.

He said people are being maimed in their sleep and on their ancestral land and called on Obasanjo and other influential Nigerians to rise to the occasion to stem the tide of killings. While alleging skewed security architecture, Gundu said: “Nigeria seems to be losing the battle against insecurity.”

He, however, demanded full compensation for the victims of killings and destruction in Tivland, proscription of armed Fulani groups, while “land grabbing must stop and all occupied lands must be vacated.” Gundu also called for intensified advocacy against nomadic pastoralism and hosting an “All Nationalities Summit” where issues would be discussed with a view to finding lasting solutions. He said: “There are different shades of instability in the country. Nigeria is truly bleeding to death.

There’s even a population fault line which could lead to the ‘Lebanon Trap’. “All Patriots must stand together; but if others have to be enslaved before the country can survive, we will prefer, as Tiv people, to take our destiny in our hands.”

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