Out of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, south west was the least affected by the insurgency and banditry when Boko Haram first reared its ugly head in the country in the year 2002. Until recently that the states called Yorubaland began to experience wanton killings of innocent farmers by herdsmen,the usual report and experience that time were pockets of conflicts and inescapable feuds between one farmer and another herdsman. That time, it was difficult to describe the experience as social problem calling for urgent and collective action.
The farmers-herdsmen problem has taken a new dimension given the rate of escalation and sophistication of arms and ammunition being deployed in the perpetration of the heinous crimes of kidnapping and communal strife.
As the situation is now in Yoruba speaking states, the spate of the organized crime of kidnapping has raised the tempo of etnnic nationalism. A good manifestation and prevalence of ethnic feelings was the recent proclamation and riot act read by Aare, I Gani Adams, the leader of Oodua Peoples’ Congress(OPC) and Generalissimo of Yorubaland through which he has sent a signal to the whole world that Yoruba as an ethnic nationality is posed to wage war against the murderous herdsmen and kidnappers who have turned many people to aliens on their own lands. The message he has tried to echo was that Yorubas are gradually becoming subjugated by armed invaders. Before now, south west is a safe haven for investors and business men from other geo-political zones.
From the media statements and body language of Aare Iba Gani Adams, incessant activities of the kidnappers in the south west has spun off ethnic sentiments and raised other national questions. With the kind of braveness which the leadership of Pan Yoruba Cultural Group, OPC, has mustered up, I am sure the invaders under whatever guises would have no other option than to retreat and look else where to thrive.
I must acknowledge that kidnappers who appeared to have completely taken over South West now live among us even if they are from neighbouring countries. And of course, the identity of these marauders may not be properly understood except our assessment and judgment are devoid of stereotype, prejudice and egocentrism.
We need to unravel the psychology and the mind sets of the kidnappers as a factor for consideration to actually understand the prevailing culture of ‘anything for money’ or quick money syndrome that has become a normative in the current social order.
Through the narration by the victims of their ordeals in the hands of the kidnappers,how they usually get police and army uniforms remain a puzzle.
I share the pains and agonizing effects of kidnapping when I watched the video clip released by Hon. Bisi Ogungbemi, the Ondo State Chairman of African Demicratic Congress(ADC). The video presentation is an eye opener to evil machination and sophistication of the kidnappers and armed bandits currently operating in major Yoruba Cities like Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo State.
Unarguably, the spate of the menace is now a source of nightmare to Yoruba leaders, for one can no longer sleep with the two eyes closed. And passing through our highways nowadays could result into uncontrollable perpitation and increase in one’s blood pressure. In a similar circumstance, Dayo Adewole, the son of the former Minister for Health was recently held in captivity by the suspected kidnappers at a gun point in Iroko, near Fiditi, in AFIJIO Local Government Area of Oyo State. Before he could regain his freedom 24 hours after kidnap, the parents and family have to pay huge ransom according to reports.
A dimension to this kidnapping brouhaha which is comical were those ones conceived, planned and executed by the supposedly held captives themselves.Some of the reported cases we have heard in the recent past ended as cases of self-kidnapping by the victims themselves. One particular case that could best be described as heart break news was the report of a pastor of an orthodox church in Ekiti, Pastor Adegoke Adewuyi, that lodged himself in an hotel to draw ransom of three millions naira from his church members. Whoever watches the video clip of the arrest and self confession by the cuprit, one will cry for this country.
If the advocacy by the OPC doesn’t receive the support of the traditional rulers particularly in the South West, the zone will remain endangered, unsafe and haven of the kidnappers and bandits. Truly we have sufficient laws and with budgetary provision for security architecture annually, the success so far recorded by the security agencies in combating the menace of insecurity in the country is below public expectation. Given the efforts which the nation’s security agencies have so far made to halt the spate of banditry and kidnapping in the country, nothing suggests that the culprits have seen the reasons to change and give peace a chance.
Also,the war cannot be successfully waged and won using only legal instrument and moral control, we must equally pay attention to education, counseling, rehabilitation and value re-orientation. Besides, each community must improve on security consciousness and awareness. There should be cooperation and synergy among the various social community to guarantee for us an effective social security devoid of devilish activities of the kidnappers and bandits.
Onike, a public affairs analyst, writes from Oyo, Oyo State.