So, Chief Olu Falae, seventy-seven year old former Nigerian SGF and finance Minister under the IBB regime gets kidnapped, and we are nationally outraged and running helter skelter. The kidnappers want a princely ransom of a Hundred Million Naira. They have reduced that to a negotiated sum of N90 Million, while the family has only been able to raise N2 Million, so far. He was said to have been physically brutalized during the snatch from his farm.
I feel, and fear for this old man.
My immediate reaction, on hearing of this report was, When Elder Statesmen Start Getting Kidnapped, There Is Serious Trouble In The Land!
We remember the kidnap of the mother of the former Minister of the Economic, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and that of the Uncle of the former President, GoodLuck Ebele Jonathan. Luckily, they were both rescued unharmed.
Several other celebrities have been kidnapped in the past. Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie (actors), 92-year old ex-Minister Ali Monguno , Mike Ezekomeh (Human rights activist), etc.
Perhaps it would take the continual kidnap of high caliber personalities for us to wake up from out collective slumber and look critically at the root cause of these kidnaps (and other crimes, generally) in the country.
It is clear that crime fighting is a lot more protracted, difficult and costlier than crime prevention. The elongated Boko Haram insurgency (and the mellowed Niger Delta militancy) show that there are some situations military might / force may not easily curtail. The burgeoning kidnapping problem is beginning to appear that way.
Some state governments prescribed the death penalty for kidnappers, while the building used to house kidnapped victims are often demolished. This has not really deterred would be kidnappers.The lucre and allure of overnight wealth is proving too strong.
If this trend is not arrested, we may start seeing cases of love cadre kidnaps where someone is told to bring N20,000 as ransom!
If someone is planning to kidnap you, there is really not much you can do to avert it, unless you have a retinue of security guards protecting you all the time. It’s a matter of time. Therefore, there is not much you can do as an individual to prevent it from happening.
How then, can we reduce crimes of kidnap, armed robbery, etc? There is nowhere on earth where there aren’t crimes, but in addition to effective (community) policing, beefing up security agencies adequately, there is the social angle to it.
When you check out why some people engage in crime, one of the major reason is a polarized society where there is serious dichotomy between the haves and the have-nots. a society where people can spend in one night what another earns in a year. In an environment where the basic things of life are not easily accessible to the majority of people, and some seem to have access to all the national pie, there is the likelihood of aggravated crime happening. With the increasing level of unemployment in the land, crimes of kidnap and armed robbery are likely to keep increasing.
With the parlous state of the economy, many probably go into crime because they have been pushed to the wall.
Let us look at education. Every child should have access to affordable education. Many of the things we do start from the mind, and an educated mind would ordinarily have better powers of analyses than the uneducated. An idle hand is also the devil’s workshop. Gainful employment for the citizens would reduce the incidents of crime.
Greater equity within the society and equal access to opportunities (like quality education) would bridge the yawning economic / social gaps (which some would impatiently. attempt to bridge overnight through criminality).
There was a joke online, where the remuneration of a fresh graduate is compared to the earnings of a Niger delta militant (from government), a confidence trickster (419er), and of course, a kidnapper. It really paints a graphic picture.
This is a society that glorifies wealth in later how it was acquired. How would you convince Gbadamosi, an unemployed graduate of many years not to get involved in a crime like kidnapping where he can make Millions (in ransom) overnight, as opposed to diligently building a career and gradually climbing the ladder of (financial ) success?
How would you build a fire in Emeka to tow the straight and narrow path when his former roommate just hit a jackpot in online scamming, and he (Emeka) has been fruitlessly looking a job for seven years? While there are criminals in the best egalitarian societies, the truth is that glaring inequalities and injustices can only worsen the likelhood of crime.
I am convinced that, with the New Dawn in governance, the wealth of the nation would be better distributed, and allowed to circulate, education would be more available, accessible and affordable, and idle hands would be better gainfully engaged.
That way, crimes like a septugenarian or nonagenarian getting kidnapped, or Nigerian youths being seen as Online scam artists.. would gradually subside.