By Olusegun Hakeem-Adebumiti
The Nigerian Senate has been shrouded in controversies of late which has resorted to Nigerians believing that nothing good can come out of the hallowed chamber.
From the purported purchase of SUV jeeps at an over bloated price, to the proposed amendment and hitherto stoppage of the CCT, CCB and ACJ Acts, and to the handling of the “padded” and “unpadded” budget with the executive, Nigerians are arguably not happy with the 8th senate.
However, members of the 8th senate have remained resolute against all odds and are prepared to bringing the dividends of good governance to the doorsteps of the masses. This in itself is a plus, and kudos to them for managing and concluding the 2016 budget brouhaha with the executive in a matured manner.
The 8th senate notwithstanding the criticism against her has also added another feather to its “very big cap”, with the recent promulgation of a death penalty for people involved in kidnapping which has taken a new dimension in Nigeria.
More worrisome is the fact that kidnappers no longer have criteria for choosing their victims any longer, so far they can identify any person working in an organisation – whether the individual is a full fledged staff or contract staff, the deal is done for them.
There are also instances whereby children connived with their mates to perfect this evil and barbaric act by kidnapping their parents to get ransom from them. In short, no one is immune from the onslaught of kidnappers.
That the Nigerian Senate had passed a law to put to death people involving in kidnapping is highly welcome, but the big question is how come that the phenomenon gained more grounds over the years? What had been the measures put in place by the Nigerian government to address this canker worm?
Going down memory lane, kidnapping became popular through the activities of some aggrieved youths in the Niger Delta who felt that the region had been neglected for years by the government. They argued that Nigeria made a large chunk of her fortunes from the region through oil exploration without no cause to develop the region.
This metamorphosed into the kidnapping of oil expatriates and notable people who were sometimes used to get ransom and also score political points.
Having said that, It took the government many years before coming to terms with their mandates which later culminated to the establishment of The Niger Delta Development Commission as well as the Ministry of Niger Delta and the introduction of Amnesty programmes.
But before these were put in place a lot of damages had been done while its resultant effects was the replication of kidnapping in other parts of the country.
Soon many Nigerian youths started kidnapping wealthy individuals and people who are related to business tycoons, politicians and there are even instances whereby the kidnappers kidnap religious leaders, children, market women et al., and often times they kill their victims when ransoms demanded are not met.
To cut the story short, we cannot continue like this as no one is spared of their activities, and that is while the 8th senate should be applauded for criminalizing kidnapping and promulgating death penalty for people caught in the act, even though capital punishment is fading away in the international community.
Before we began to commit to death kidnappers in the country, there is the need to take a holistic view of the factors responsible for this menace.
No doubt everyone will agree with me that unemployment is one of the major factors responsible for kidnapping and if not nipped in the bud, it will continuously affect the development of Nigeria.
The youths are the most affected individuals that are unemployed in the country and when you look at kidnapping vividly, they constituted the majority of those involved in the act though they may have adults as sponsors.
The irony in this is that their sponsors will prefer to use them in such acts than to provide gainful employment for them since kidnapping has become an avenue to make big money.
What the government need to do to stop kidnapping is to take the youths out of this predicament by providing employment for them. This no doubt will bring most of the perpetrators out of the quagmire in which they have found themselves.
Also, the economic environment need serious surgical operation in order to encourage the youths to take up entrepreneurship. Giving out soft loans with little or no interest to them should be one of the ways in which the government can engage the youths from toeing the path of disaster through their involvement in kidnapping.
The government must also work with religious institutions to help address the challenges facing the youths. Here the religious bodies will play the role of admonishing them, while the government ensure that they do the needful by providing a level playing field for youths to get employed.
For me, if the unemployment rate is reduced to the barest minimum, kidnapping and other vices in our society will be a thing of the past. Then anyone involved in kidnapping and other similar vices can now face the full wrath of the law.