By Adefolarin A. Olamilekan
Resource dependency makes so much money available for sharing. These makes access to the Nigerian state seat of power very lucrative, highly competitive, and do or kill affairs. In the bid to achieve this, stakeholders in the Nigerian project have devised several dubious means including flagrant abuse of people’s rights, inciting statement for violence, aggressive pursuit of injustice and the accompanying galloping corruption. Though, Nigeria has been known notorious for ethno – religious, communal, political conflicts. Of late, Banditry and Kidnapping has become a menace in Nigeria forming part of the predicaments confronting and distorting development progression in Nigeria.
Subsequently, kidnapping for ransom has become part and parcel of insecurity problems of Nigeria today. Coincidentally, it is part of the inhuman criminal activity that has escalated over the years alongside other insecurity challenges of communal clashes, ethno religious violence, terrorism, activities of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Odua People’s Congress (OPC), militancy and herdsmen/farmers crisis, cattle rustling, and cult and gang war. Particularly, this are manifestations and purveyors of insecurity in Nigeria hinge on the occasioned of proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in the country.
Regrettably, banditry and kidnapping has snowballed into hostage taking of school children, travelling passengers, traditional rulers, village heads, and ransacking of communities. Latest been the Kankara Government School students in Katsina and the Kagara Government School students in Niger state. And this bandits and kidnappers operate in different groups. Meanwhile media reports have it that some of this bandits and kidnappers are affiliated to Boko haram and other Islamic militia groups operating in the northeast in current dimension.
Interestingly, the latest that is gaining currency is kidnapping by bandit and call for amnesty from the Nigerian state.
Controversially, the recommendation of amnesty by Sheik Gumi and other politically exposed individual from the North for the bandit’s and kidnappers. As further divide Nigerians and call to question the rational. Especially, has banditry and kidnapping activity of the so called former herdsmen is claimed to be as a result of neglect and injustice of the Nigerian state against them?
Incidentally, banditry and kidnapping has been equate to the pipeline vandalism, the activities of the movement for the emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) struggle against oil pollution and underdevelopment of host communities by both the Nigerian state and oil companies. And this to the advocate of amnesty for bandits and kidnappers is worth given.
However, a critical point of observation emanating from the demand for amnesty for bandits and kidnappers is worth reflecting upon as in, is it legitimate? How can that be justified in societies with divergent moral, ethical, social, cultural, religious and political orientations? In addition, if persons and groups that society as already considers their actions criminal and murderous get pampered after contradicting the laws of the land what happens to law abiding citizens that bandits and kidnappers contradict their legitimate desires? Although, conflict scholars would want to remind us that as a result of frustration when ‘legitimate desires’ of a person or group is denied them either directly or indirectly as a result of the way the society is structured. They argue that the “feeling of disappointment” may lead such a man or group to express anger through violence that will be directed at those held responsible. To them this anger and violence can also be directed to people who are directly or indirectly related to those people that are said to be responsible. The foregoing is in support of the claimed for amnesty for bandits and kidnappers by Sheik Gumi and others.
Paradoxically many Nigerians has argues that the relative usage and success of violence in drawing attention to the injustice has made this a strategy for promoting “identity politics”. Considering, the fact that this has given rise to the phase of provoking ethnic tension, sentiment and violence as a means of attracting attention to economic, political issues and interests, as well proving political relevance. In a way, this suggest that Nigerians who are disgruntled against the government can take up arms against the state to attract whatever favour or largest they feel is there to be given.
It is also imperative to considers the amnesty option for bandit and kidnapper as been front by the likes of Sheik Gumi as a leeway to ensure national security stability. For instance the Westphalia peace treaty is well known to have ignited the concept of a sovereign state. An attribute of it is what Thomas Hobbes in his 1651 work Leviathan stated that citizens yield to a powerful ruled by a sovereign, who in turn promises an end to civil and religious war, and to bring forth a lasting peace, and give him the right to conduct policy, including wage war or negotiate for peace for the good of the “commonwealth”, i.e., a mandate for national security. Importantly, this became the basis of a new international order of nation states.
In moving forward, and for the cries at hand to be mitigated, our understanding of national security as “measurable state of the capability of a nation to overcome the multi-dimensional threats to the apparent well-being of its people and its survival as a nation-state at any given time, by balancing all instruments of state policy through governance, that can be indexed by computation, empirically or otherwise, and is extendable to global security by variables external to it”. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to address this ugly scenario as that will be the panacea for development in the country. Ensuring, the assertion that “as development increases, conflict decreases is practical” And when this happens, “the peace space expands, while the violence space contracts.”
Meanwhile, it has been observed that crime and criminality are likely to exist and thrive in society where the leaders are not doing enough to alleviate the plights of the people. This is the time to act against the character of post-colonial state in Africa evident in Nigeria unnecessary resource looting and wastages that ordinary should be use to provide critical infrastructure for the citizenry.
Adefolarin A. Olamilekan
Political Economist & Development Researcher
Tel: 08073814436, 08107407870