Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s promises to curb insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation have failed to arrest the rise in kidnappings in Nigeria. The perceived failure of the president has left many Nigerians increasingly concerned about their safety and security.
Between June and October, kidnapping in Nigeria surged with the highest number of cases recorded in September, totaling 498, data captured by the Daily Trust Newspaper revealed. The situation was far from under control, pointing to a concerning security architecture.
In one heartbreaking incident, students of the Federal University in Gusau, Zamfara State, faced a harrowing ordeal as they were abducted from their off-campus hostels on a bleak September morning. Some were eventually rescued, but the fate of others remained uncertain, leaving their families in anguish.
Furthermore, four female students of Nasarawa State University, Keffi, fell victim to a similar fate in Keffi. The data painted a grim picture of the situation, with 1,158 reported kidnappings between June and October, surpassing the figures from January to May under the previous administration.
Various regions in Nigeria were affected, with Kaduna, Zamfara, and Taraba topping the list. The North Central, North West, and North East regions reported increasing incidents, while the South West, South South, and South East were not spared.
In response to this crisis, President Tinubu, when he was the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2023 general election, released an ambitious action plan.
He pledged to bolster the military and police forces, equipping them with better resources and technology to combat terror, kidnapping, and violent criminality.
Tinubu said, “We shall continue the fight against insecurity by redefining our counter-insurgency doctrine and practice. Our response to terror, kidnapping and violent criminality will be defined by the following elements. We shall enlist more people in the armed forces, security services and the police; our forces will be given better tactical communications, mobility as well as improved aerial and ground surveillance capacity.
“Through these and other measures, we shall better identify, monitor, track and defeat these evil groups where they are. They shall have no respite until they surrender or are utterly defeated.”
However, the promise had yet to materialise, leaving Nigerians anxiously waiting for results.
Lawrence Alobi, a former commissioner of police, in a conversation with the Daily Trust Saturday newspaper, offered insights into the root causes of the escalating kidnappings.
He criticised the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for failing in its role of enlightening citizens about their responsibilities in maintaining law and order. He stressed the importance of mentorship within the police force and encouraged all security agencies to collaborate rather than compete.
“Mentorship is lacking now in the Nigeria Police Force. Some of these officers need to be mentored. Government has roles to play. The National Orientation Agency is no longer functional.
“A section of the constitution of the land states that for a citizen to continue to be a Nigerian, he or she must assist the government in maintaining law and order.
“As at now, nobody knows their obligation to the society. Everybody wants to be parasitic; they don’t want to give. The culture of sacrificing to make our society better is dying,” he said.
Alobi advocated for a proactive approach to security, emphasising community engagement and emotional intelligence in policing. He underscored the need for police empowerment and extensive capacity-building programmes to ensure a more effective response to the crisis.
Amid increasing kidnapping in Nigeria, the National Orientation Agency and the Office of the National Security Adviser were facing changes in leadership, creating uncertainties in addressing the crisis.
In a country grappling with the relentless menace of kidnapping, the urgency for action and coordination among security agencies was apparent. Nigerians were eagerly awaiting the promised measures to improve the situation and restore security to their lives and communities.