I know the solution to kidnap-for-ransom

According to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

And the fact that security was mentioned before welfare means the latter is useless without the former. As they say, life is for the living. And people need to be alive to enjoy any welfare.

I know the government has sublet some of its responsibilities to the people. For instance, majority of Nigerians have to make their own arrangement for quality education, steady electricity, potable water and more.

One thing Nigerians should not agree to is for the government to transfer to them the responsibility of security of lives and property unless, of course, the government is ready to allow us to carry our own AK-47.

Talking about AK-47, I know why government is foot-dragging over this. A hungry man is an angry man, goes a saying. Many of us are hungry and therefore angry. And many will want to vent that anger on government officials rather than criminals, despite the esprit de corps existing between the two.

I mean government officials and criminals share a lot in common; even if methods and approaches differ, the goal seems the same.

Sorry, I digressed. The aim of this piece is to proffer my solution to kidnapping for ransom, not to make comparison about comrades.

It is an understatement to say thousands of lives and billions of naira have been lost to kidnapping for ransom. In fact many family have lost both, as these government officials, sorry criminals, sometimes kill their victims despite collecting ransom.

The rural economy today, especially in the North, is dead. Many have been forced to flee their houses and abandon their farms after losing their money and property. And because they are in the rural areas, their news is hardly ever reported, unless the casualty number is high.

The bandits have finished the rural economy and are now changing tack. Of course they have seen the embarrassment caused the government following the Chibok schoolgirls’ abduction. No fewer than five schools have so far been attacked and students abducted.

Reports suggest that the bandits who abducted schoolboys from Kankara in Katsina State were paid N30m to free their captives. However, the government – at state and federal levels – insisted no money was paid.

But the repeat in Kagara, Niger State and Jangebe, Zamfara State, showed that bandits have identified schools as sources of big, quick cash.

In any case, the government has so far proved unwilling or incapable of ending the kidnap for ransom quagmire in Nigeria. Not even a workable solution has been proffered by them.

Rather, a minister who should worry about protecting us sees us as cowards for not facing lunatics with AK-47. This same minister who is being protected by dozens of security agents wants “Is it the responsibility of the military alone? It is the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and to find safety when necessary. But we shouldn’t be cowards.

“At times, the bandits will only come with about three rounds of ammunition. When they fire shots, everybody runs. In our younger days, we stand to fight any aggression coming for us.

“I don’t know why people are running from minor things like that. They should stand and let these people know that even the villagers have the competency and capability to defend themselves.”

Somehow, not even the minister believed his own suggestion as he still goes about with vehicles loaded with security agents.

So as a solution, the government must be made to reimburse families that pay ransom to free their loved ones and pay compensation to those who lost their relations to kidnappers. If the government cannot do this, then we should be allowed us to arm ourselves with AK47 which, according to a repentant bandit, is being sold like bread.

Abba Ado Jabiri contributed this piece from Sokoto Road, Funtua

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