There is no doubt that one of the biggest menaces facing Nigeria as a nation is kidnapping. It is threatening the peace of the country and heightens fear in the minds of citizens as no one knows who is the next victim. Despite the efforts put in place by government, traditional rulers, patriotic citizens and NGOs, the menace keeps growing.
In the past, most reports of kidnapping were traced to militants in the Niger Delta region, but recently, bandits and gunmen have taken over as several reports of people being kidnapped come in from villages particularly in Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina states. According to the Nigerian Police Force, 685 kidnappings occurred nationwide in the first quarter of 2020, an average of seven per day.
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The causes of kidnapping can be traced to the high rate of illiteracy among the masses, particularly in Northern Nigeria which has a high rate of children roaming the streets without functional education and other necessities of life. This situation has made it easy for some unscrupulous elements to gain the advantage of these children or use them to get their way.
Poverty is also another major reason for this menace because, due to the high cost of living, many people cannot afford three square meals daily, which makes many people resort to crime. In addition, the high level of unemployment, particularly among youths, has made many to resort to criminal acts and other vices. The failure of the government to put effective machinery in place to protect the lives and properties of its citizens is clearly obvious because, if the government had done the needful, things wouldn’t have been as bad as they are now.
This menace can only be addressed if the government and stakeholders involved do the needful, because kidnapping thrives in an environment that condones crime; where criminal opportunism and impunity prevail over and above deterrence. Therefore, the government, in collaboration with traditional rulers and others, should embark on mass sensitisation especially in the rural areas on the need to be patriotic and shun any form of negative attitude. Also, employment opportunities as well as skill acquisition programmes should be organised by all levels of government in order to reduce the high rate of unemployment specifically among youths.
Poverty alleviation programmes should be designed to assist the masses. Lastly, the defence sector should be adequately funded and supervised by the government to ensure that they are discharging their duties as assigned. As the saying goes, “United we stand and divided we fall”. We need to work hand-in-hand, irrespective of tribe, religion and region, and see ourselves as Nigerians only.
Therefore, each and every citizen has a role to play in ensuring peaceful coexistence in Nigeria as a nation by doing the rightful thing, such as giving vital information to the police or other security agencies, helping others, engaging in community services, etc. That will be our saving grace.
Hajara Abdullahi, Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University Kano.