Opinion

This kidnapping matter and the rest of us

The security situation has become so worrisome that only two places in the country are now safe: Aso Rock and prison. Aso Rock is safe simply because kidnappers know that the final approval for ransom payment is domiciled there. It would be foolish to attack your revenue base, and kidnappers are not that stupid.

Prisons are safe because it is inconceivable that social activists will ever take up a campaign like “Bring Back our Prisoners” and force the government to pay anything substantial for prisoners to be brought back. All these complicates matters a bit in the business of kidnapping.

Kidnappers also have their concerns about insecurity. Now a poor kidnapper cannot kidnap some schoolboys without the fear that between the time he kidnaps the boys and takes them to his hideout, he could get kidnapped himself and the government may be forced to pay ransom for his release. It is a situation that kidnappers are worried about, and they believe the Federal Government should do something about the situation, so that they could continue their business in peace.

In fact, the business has become as porous as journalism practice. Like journalism that every Tom, Dick and Harry with a pen calls himself a journalist; in kidnapping every Tom, Dick and Harry with a gun or toy gun calls himself a kidnapper.

Aso Rock on the other hand is not too perturbed because kidnapping is like a passing ambulance to them and when it matters, they buy diesel for the ambulance. The business is thriving. As matter of fact, there are three trending business in Nigeria right now.

These are network marketing, online trading and kidnapping. The most lucrative and least risky seems to be kidnapping. Unlike networking marketing that you may talk yourself hoarse trying to convince a man who has no money in his account to become your downline, in kidnapping the customers largely remain silent and cooperative as they join your “downline” in some forest. The way kidnapping is trending is frightening. Already it has led to the campaign, “Bring Back our Girls.”

Now we have “Bring Back our Boys” as a result of the kidnapping of 27 students, three staff and 12 relations of the Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area, Niger State. In the not-toodistant future, we may have “Bring Back Our Soldiers and Police.” When the days of “Bring Back our soldiers and Police” eventually come (and I hope it does not), we may need to add a caveat, “Also Bring back our Weapons.” The Nigerian Governors’ Forum has already opted to negotiate with commercial kidnappers for the release of the boys. They added that they should only negotiate with repentant kidnappers.

Who ever heard of a repentant kidnapper? The idea of repentant kidnapper is like the idea of walking serpent. But leaving the window open for such negotiations is a good job because it forecloses any thought of having “Bring Back our Governors” in one of the most affected states in the North.

Kidnappers are usually indebted to people who negotiate and grease their palms. Kidnapping is a tough business, just like any business that does not pay taxes. The governor of Niger State, Sani Bello, may be the one to part with the largesse for the kidnappers of the boys. The negotiations are ongoing and at the end of the day these kidnappers would collect money for doing nothing, and would not even pay value added tax on what they are paid. Discussions have been stalled, according to media reports, because the kidnappers are quarrelling amongst themselves.

That is not important to us though. Bello should know that that is the way the cookie crumples and he would eventually pay for the boys to be released. The chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, made it clear to Bello, when they called on him, that they felt his pain.

He added that “This is not something that is not uncommon.” He is right, kidnapping is so commonplace in Nigeria right now that one wonders why the miscreants have not so far formed the “Kidnappers Association of Nigeria” and ask for the National Assembly to charter the body.

The kidnappers should not mind that the House of Representatives has “condemned in totality the attack and abduction of students and staff of the science school”. By now they should be used to this response whenever they kidnap. Aso Rock would condemn. The National Assembly would condemn. The government would pay… and life goes on .

 

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