A report released by  SB Morgen (SBM) shows that Nigeria paid at least $18.34 million (N7 billion) as ransom to kidnappers between 2011 and 2020, bringing to light the challenges of insecurity and unemployment in Nigeria.

The report titled Nigeria’s Kidnap Problem: The Economics of the Kidnap Industry in Nigeria, contained the breakdown of the victims names, date, state and amount paid respectively. The report also shows four of the top 10 states with a high number of kidnap incidents over the last decade are in the oil rich zone and northern region of the country.

“It would appear that in the south, while kidnapping may be frequent, the selection of victims is more targeted and the kidnappers see it more as a business transaction, trying hard to extract money from their criminal activities,” part of the report reads. It also notes that “victims that are unable to pay up as quickly as expected are more likely to be killed by the kidnappers.”

Based on the report, up until late 2018, kidnap attempts were targeted at specific victims who were mostly politically-exposed persons, business owners and their close relatives, or expatriates.

With each passing year, Nigeria proves to be less safe than the last. Kidnapping has increased in almost all states, but there is a massive rise in Kaduna, Rivers, Katsina, Zamfara and Taraba, while only Bayelsa saw a fall in the number of incidents compared to the period of 2011 to 2015.

SBM’s report shows that the hike in unemployment may be linked to the level of insecurity in the country. Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose from 18.8 percent in the third quarter of 2017 to 23.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018 while the UN estimates for youth unemployment last year were above 20 percent.

Secondly, in many cases, political leaders and aspirants take advantage of this unemployment crisis. “Previous SBM research has shown that the crime rate soars during election periods and politicians key into the mass idleness of young people by using them for political violence. Nigeria has a problem of large swathes of ungoverned spaces, areas of the country that are without government or security presence. This puts residents at the mercy of whichever criminal elements are in the ascendancy.”

In a bid to gain the government’s attention and accomplish their goals, Nigeria’s popular terrorist group (Boko Haram) resorts to the kidnapping of school children, burning of villages and kidnapping prominent people in the society. This has led to the country being seen as a terrorist state which resulted in a travel ban by the United States (US).

Nevertheless, there is hope for redemption as the government continues to make efforts in stabilizing the economy during these times. The government also needs to address the issue of insecurity and unemployment as it greatly affects the economic growth of the nation.

There is a need to train, equip and deploy the police and military assets into the most affected regions. This can be done by creating a soft regulatory framework to enable effective policing, cooperation and coordination to achieve desired results.

According to the SBM report, “Sensible regulation and economic reform that includes a Marshall like Plan for the North East and North West regions and significant sub-national autonomy that will significantly satisfy the southern regions, particularly the South East and the South South.”

Finally, the rule of law must be obeyed. Individuals must be able to rely on the judicial system rather than alternative means of settling disputes. For instance, the introduction of full electronic court proceedings in Borno can be registered as  the country’s first symbolic step in the right direction.

Insecurity in Nigeria is on the rise and should be treated as top priority. An unsafe nation means less foreign investments, which could lead to a decline in the tourism sector and less foreign currency and  financial assistance resulting in a failing economy.

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