Whose thesis, Soyinka’s or Orji’s?

The effects of the upsurge of kidnapping in Nigeria, particularly the southern part of Nigeria, cannot be over emphasised as many have fallen victim, including pregnant women, children, politicians, civil servants and foreigners, among others. Kidnapping has now turned to a means of livelihood and in some parts of the country, “well meaning Nigerians” have embraced the act as a means of settling disputes. 

Prof. Wole Soyinka was of the opinion that kidnapping did not begin in the Niger Delta region or as a result of resource control. In his comments, the kidnap-for-ransom syndrome began with the cement bonanza in this nation. During this period, people were being kidnapped for ransom and those whose families did not pay up were drowned with cement bags around their necks. Kidnapping began at that time and suddenly overnight millionaires emerged at those times who were cement merchants.

This happened in the 1970s during the regime of General Murtala Muhammad and spilled over to that of General Olusegun Obasanjo. So, kidnapping did not begin today. Some of the kingpins of that time even had albums in which they kept photographs of kidnapped people. There were different gang leaders and if you are looking for somebody who had been kidnapped, they would direct you to them. In your presence, they would bring out albums containing photos of victims for you to look through and search for your relation who might have been kidnapped. If the photo is there and has been crossed, it meant that the relations of the victim did not pay up early enough and the victim had been drowned. Or if they don’t have the person you are looking for, they would direct you to another gangster.  

If your relation has been drowned, they will still direct you to another group to know how your relation was buried and for you to retrieve the corpse for a fee. General Benjamin Adekunle was the one who quelled the heat of this furnace but, obviously, for it to crop up again means it didn’t die down completely. It was at that period of cement bonanza that kidnapping people for ransom began and later, the Niger Delta region militants inculcated this unsympathetic tradition. “many people didn’t know about this. I know about it intimately because I too had to go into the nation’s waters to help track these gangsters,” prof. Soyinka said.

Comrade Ibrahim Abdu Zango; Kano, Nigeria; 08175472298

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