Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the federal government to develop means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of the payment of ransom.
He also stressed the need for leaders to ensure that 2023 gives birth to the emergence of a new federation in the nation, warning that the country may slide into what he described as ground dissolution.
The elder statesman made the recommendation on Wednesday when he received members of the Tiv Professionals Group (TPG) led by Professor Zacharys Gundu, at his residence within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
“Some people are still reaching out and hoping that lives can still be saved; but a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is a folly.
“This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage; but if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it,” Obasanjo said.
He added, “Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during (Goodluck) Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”
The former president, who condemned the security challenges in the country, insisted that 2023 must mark a watershed for Nigeria.
“The year 2023 should give us the beginning of the emergence of a new federation. Feeling that the rot continues, then we are going to be sliding back to a ground dissolution. God forbid,” he said.
Getting It Right
Obasanjo decried that those beating drums of division in the country do not think about the interest of the minority ethnic groups. He explained that the minority ethnic groups face oppression and extermination should Nigeria be allowed to break as being agitated by some people.
“I believe that if we will get it right in Nigeria, any leader must look at Nigeria with the prism of the diversity of Nigeria. For as long as you look at Nigeria with the prism of your ethnic group, then you are not going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group.
“But is there hope? There is hope,” the elder statesman stated.
In his remarks, Professor Gundu told his host that people were being maimed in their sleep and on their ancestral land, stressing the need for influential Nigerians to rise to the occasion to stem the tide of killings in the land.
“Nigeria seems to be losing the battle against insecurity,” he said while demanding full compensation for victims of killings and destruction in Tiv land.
The leader of the delegation also sought the proscription of armed Fulani groups and intensified advocacy against nomadic pastoralism.
“There are different shades of instability in the country. Nigeria is truly bleeding to death. There’s even a population fault line that could lead to the ‘Lebanon Trap’.
“All patriots must stand together; but if others have to be enslaved before the country can survive, we will prefer, as Tiv people, to take our destiny in our hands,” he said.