No sane parent would like to see his child sick, sad, or in trouble. No parent will sleep well if his child who went out in the morning, and promised to come back by 3pm, still hadn’t come back by 11pm. Every parent will be overjoyed to see a lost, or missing, child sauntering into the house at any hour of the day. Yes, at any hour of the day! The joy of it all will not allow the parent to think, or ask, “where have you been”. It would not be time for reprimands. Only “welcome my dear child” will be appropriate all the way, because that would be the wrong time for precepts and admonitions about staying out late and sundry tenets about propriety.
That being the case, who can imagine the joy of any parent who receives his child back from bandits and kidnappers, in fact from the very jaws of death, in one piece. Yes, the child will come back a bit emaciated, wide-eyed from morbid terror, and unable to coordinate properly for a while after being released from captivity. But that child would be home and in the loving embrace of relations whose presence and love would eventually restore him to some level of normalcy. The safety of being with kith and kin is therapeutic, reassuring and likely to reawaken some measure of faith in humanity, with a strong caveat about “different types of human beings”.
We can thus imagine the joy of Professor Ango Abdullahi, Convener of the Northern Elders’ Forum, when his dear son was released to him after weeks of uncertainty in the hands of marauders and murderers. What if they had killed the young man? It did not matter to them whose son he was. It did not matter whether he was Fulani, Igbo, Kanuri, English, or Rwandan. All that mattered to the kidnappers was that they had an innocent passenger whom they had cheerfully kidnapped for ransom. Thanks to a train they intercepted on a lonely patch of rail somewhere in the Sahel, they had people they could exchange for money.
Once kidnapped, the young man we knew to be Prof Ango Abdullahi’s son no longer had a name, or history. He had become something, a living thing, yes, that could be traded for money. Without paying for his release, Ango Abdullahi would most probably have lost his dear son. Fortunately, he got his son back. With contacts and resources from high places, the story ended well. And we all rejoiced with the, no doubt, traumatized elder.
Then, barely one month after the release of his son, the same man now had his daughter-in-law and her four children abducted. His son, a Village Head, had his peace of mind and home breached. His personal dignity, like that of the Village Head of Ghandi in Sokoto State whose story was still fresh when I visited the area in 2019, unfortunately after he had all his heads of cattle stolen, was in tatters. In the Yakawada incident, the bandits invaded the village and stormed the residence of the Village Head, killing one person who was on patrol during the attack.
So here is the scenario in Nigeria today: Village Heads, Emirs in the north and Traditional Rulers in the south, governors, commissioners, local government chairmen, lawmakers, serving and retired judicial, military, security and presidential guards and presidential convoys are all in the line of fire. It is universal vulnerability. It is a comprehensive ‘democratization’ of insecurity, because we diligently sowed the wind. We are reaping the whirlwind. Everywhere! There are no big or small men and women anymore. Remember the titles of two books of the Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard? Maybe not. One is titled “Fear and trembling”. The other is titled “The Sickness Unto Death”.
A story broke in Awka, Anambra State, recently; pointing to the fact that Kidnapping now has both wholesale and retail versions; wherein retail kidnapping is for any stray victim. There is no strict emphasis on very huge sums of money in retail kidnapping. The person involved in the Awka case under reference here was a non-teaching staff of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University. He was intercepted around Ugwuoba town, chased into the bush where his vehicle got stuck, and then bundled away alongside his co-travelers as booty. Contacts were hastily made with the main victim’s wife, using his phone. Agreement on what to pay was struck in a hurry. The the woman was instructed to get to a certain junction around 10.30pm, where a biker would pick her up, etc. etc. It all panned out well. The man and his co-travelers came back in one piece in less than 20 hours. But here’s the real story.
All members of the kidnap team were between their mid and late teens, with one or two of them looking possibly 20/21 years of age. They worked closely with some of the security personnel manning check points on the old road. What led to the chief victim’s desperate desire to conclude everything as quickly as possible was the fact that one his co-travelers who understood the language of the kidnappers overheard them discussing how those who were unable to pay within 24 hours would be handed over the organ harvesting team in Ezeagu, Enugu State to create space for freshly kidnapped victims.
Also in the East, no one can now reign in fake IPOB crusaders. Opportunistic criminality is afoot everywhere. A highly respected gentleman of stature lost his life on his way from an engagement in another state within the South East. He was stopped, brought out of his car, declared a saboteur for wearing a caftan, which is not “an Igbo dress”, in “Biafraland”. Then, he was shot. The fact that he wore a caftan made him part of the Igbo problem. Killing him was in aid of the actualization of the state of Biafra! Really?
See where we have gotten ourselves? And where is Nnamdi Kanu in all of this? Who now controls the alleged Biafran Forces? A band of five, six or nine young men with guns are now the solution to the problems of the Igbo man in Nigeria. Oh, if only anyone seriously listened when all of this was foreseen and foretold!
Recall a piece on this page, on July 29, 2019, titled “Ango Abdullahi’s Tenor and Tenure”. It was predicated on genuine concerns over Professor Ango Abdullahi’s reported public comments on some national issues. The article began thus: “Professor Ango Abdullahi was recently reported to have assured Nigerians, and the world at large, that the Fulani in Nigeria and West Africa can take on all comers, overrun any place and emerge victorious in any battle. But he did not say how the Fulani would develop holistically as a people and become part of a forward-looking, 21st century world that is leaving behind certain modes of living. He also did not say anything about the dangers faced by an elite that seems focused on breeding a younger, “replacement” generation that is not being tooled to follow in the footsteps of the likes of an Ango Abdullahi in education, or that of a Chanchangi, Dantatta and Dangote in entrepreneurship, business and industry”.
Lest anyone think that the above comments are motivated by some ill-bred inclination to mock people in their pain, or be insensitive in moments of great misfortune, this article is not about Kanu or Abdullahi as individuals. It is about the dangers of taking positions that could ultimately undermine the protagonists as well. The greater part of the mayhem in Nigeria today is taking place in the North and the East. The major propagators of violence, murder, plunder and terror are not of Southern Nigerian extraction. Many are even said not to be Nigerians at all. But they are said to be of Fulani stock. Yet their primary victims are “their” people. How? Why? To what end?
Where is Bala Mohammed today, with his Ethnocentric Universalism and the lame claim that these are his brothers who should be allowed to roam freely? Where is Sheik Gumi, the negotiator who was urging the federal government to pay “good” bandits to fight the bad ones? To pay good murderers, so they will kill or drive away the “bad” ones among them? Then what? There shall be peace? Created by murderers, so that they very people they need to kill in order to be in business shall live well – and in peace? Hare-brained brilliant ideas, everywhere!
In an article titled “So, where is the North”, which appeared on this page on April 2 this year, it was said that we should perhaps wake up the once-vocal and voluble Myetti Allah to answer a few questions about the Nigeria we are now faced with. It was said in that article: “Yes, the leadership and its General Assembly might just rise to the occasion. So, what are they saying today, as the entire northern Nigeria stands devastated, traumatized, vandalized and routinely plundered? Resolute, relentless, redoubtable and unremitting trampling on lives is the norm. Burning of villages and merciless assaults on travelers and road users everywhere. Ungoverned spaces have since become ungovernable spaces. Re-desertification has taken over previously inhabited and cultivated lands.
The article continued: “The strength of the criminals all over the country today, some of them Fulani from outside Nigeria, actually comes from the fact that they are unchallenged for now. When the government of Ghana took concrete and firm steps to contain their excesses it became obvious that they had no capacity to do anything. But that is because the Ghanaian State took its own survival seriously. …. Look at Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara, Borno, and most other northern states and tell us how these places would be in 10 years’ time”.
What is facing us today can be captured thus: The final outcome of decades of trying to hide behind a finger. It is the unmasking of shallow thinking and non-strategic engagement under myopic leadership. The IPOB and banditry phenomena now have lives of their own. Soludo is hot on the tail of the unknown gunmen and fake IPOB crusaders. Who is after the bandits? Certainly not the federal government.