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Editorial

Incessant reign of kidnappers call for concern

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The spate of insecurity have continued to be under siege as kidnappers have raised their focus on several offices in some part of the country.

Nigerians have long awoke to great and cheering news, either in the media or from their neighbours, because of increasing security challenges witnessing deaths and destruction across the country.

There is hardly any part of the country that is not facing one form of security challenge or another as kidnapping, cultism, banditry, insurgency, sea piracy, among others are commonplace with people losing their lives and security operatives overstretched.

Yesterday, no fewer than two persons were kidnapped in the Mpape area of the Federal Capital Territory.

It was learnt that gunmen stormed the area and whisked away two residents.

A resident of the area, who identified himself as Yakubu said the gunmen were about six.

He said, “At about 1 am today, gunmen numbering six came to our area shot sporadically while the operation lasted, and kidnapped two people. “

An unspecified number of members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have reportedly been kidnapped by unidentified armed men.

In a similar situation of insecurity, the Ogun State Community, Social Orientation and Safety Corps, otherwise known as So-Safe Corps rescued a businesswoman kidnapped last week.

A 32-year-old suspect, Tunde Salami, was arrested in connection with the incident.

It was gathered that the victim was kidnapped while she was going home from a market in Ijebu-Ode.

Aside the police and security forces intervention, there have been several ‘silent unreported cases’ that heighten fear of kidnapping across the length and breadth of the country.

And, kidnappers go beyond students, they perpetrate the religious sector. A case of an attack in Baptist church in Northwest Nigeria, kidnapping 25 worshippers from a Sunday service, a senior church leader said on Monday.

Insecurity is one of the top challenges  president Bola Tinubu need to take into swift effect.

Recalled that Attackers burst into the Bege Baptist Church in Chikun area of Kaduna State, initially abducting 40 people, though 15 later managed to get away, Reverend Joseph Hayab, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna State.

Heavily armed gangs known locally as bandits frequently carry out mass abductions for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria, holding their captives in camps hidden in vast forest that stretch across the region.

Abductions for ransom and intercommunal attacks have been on the rise again after a lull during elections in February and March for the presidency and governorship posts.

Earlier last month, ten school children were also kidnapped in central Kaduna, though eight later managed to escape two weeks after their abduction.

Last year, gunmen opened fire on a Catholic church in southwest Ondo state, killing at least 40 people in a rare attack an area usually considered safer.

As well as battling criminal gangs, Nigeria’s armed forces are also fighting a 14-year-long jihadist conflict in the northeast of the country and simmering separatist tensions in the southeast.

Meanwhile, The Ogun State Police command has advised religious leaders in the state to seek police protection before religious activities are held.

The warning is coming in the wake of the attack on a Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Abule-Ori, Obafemi-Owode Local Government of the State, where a pastor was killed and seven worshippers kidnapped by some unknown gunmen.

The Police also tasked churches and mosques to take into consideration that early evenings would be more secure for worshippers to hold their services and return home safely on time before sunset.

Alamutu advised religious organizations to cooperate with the ongoing contingency plans of the police in Ogun, saying strategies to halt the trend had been put in place.

Earlier this year, the bandits also stormed a Mosque and distrusted the ongoing Jumma prayers by shooting at the worshippers.

Some of the worshippers it was gathered also got wounded from the bullet wounds.

The bandits were said to have raided the town and some Communities in the area during which they were shooting at anybody they came across just as the villagers had to run for their lives during which two of them were gunned down.

According to report, Boko-Haram/ISWAP-related atrocities constituted 22.11 percent (at least 272 deaths). Political killings mostly due to the recent 2023 General Elections claimed at least 7.72 percent constituting at least 95 deaths.

Meanwhile, Kidnapping can be curbed in Nigeria when there is good standard of living, provision of employment for the youths, stiffer penalties for culprits, good leadership at all level of government, promulgation of relevant laws and their enforcement, proper data of immigrants and foreign nomads in the country, and sound moral and religious teachings. These will help reduce the unfortunate act of kidnapping in Nigeria.

To combat kidnapping, government must first, ensure effective border control. Second, there should be provision of a reliable and unique identification number of each individual such as National ID card, driver’s license, and voter cards for tracking social benefits and other identification purposes.

Third, curbing corruption with and among Nigerian law enforcement agencies. If the corruption within and among the few Nigerian law enforcement agencies is tackled, the problem of kidnapping for ransom is half dealt with. This will in turn restore the confidence in Nigerians by feeding law enforcement agencies the necessary information to tackle kidnapping for ransom.

Fourth, creating a better relationship between the locals and Nigerian law enforcement agencies.

However, in relation to Nigeria’s present situation, the Nigerian government should establish dedicated community policing, therefore creating a better relationship with traditional leaders, religious leaders, youths, and other social organisations within communities in Nigeria. This will aid in curbing the problem of kidnapping in Nigeria as trust is been established between the community and with law enforcement being consistent and available when kidnapping incidents arise.

Editorial

Nigeria’s National Identity Card initiative: A misguided venture

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The recent announcement by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) regarding the launch of a new national identity card with payment functionality epitomises folly.

While touted as a solution to streamline identification and financial services, the collaboration between NIMC, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System appears to be a misaligned endeavour.

In a nation burdened by limited resources and an array of urgent challenges, Nigeria’s pursuit of grandiose projects with questionable benefits is a luxury it cannot afford.

Despite its surface appeal, closer scrutiny reveals a troubling trend of duplication, bureaucratic inefficiency, and a glaring gap between governmental aspirations and citizens’ realities.

This venture echoes previous attempts to overhaul the national identification system, notably the ill-fated 2006 concession awarded to Chams.

That endeavour, marred by allegations of collusion and technical sabotage, squandered over $100 million, leaving a bitter legacy of failure. In light of this history, skepticism abounds regarding the prospects of the current initiative.

As Nigeria grapples with pressing socio-economic issues, including poverty, insecurity, and inadequate infrastructure, it is imperative that resources be directed towards initiatives with tangible benefits for the populace.

The proposed national identity card, with its payment functionality, appears to be a misplaced priority in this context.

Rather than embarking on ventures with dubious returns, Nigerian authorities must prioritise accountability, transparency, and citizen-centric policies. The nation cannot afford to repeat past mistakes at the expense of its long-suffering populace.

Furthermore, the purported justification for the new card – facilitating access to “multiple government intervention programs” for the financially marginalised – falls short when juxtaposed with the formidable hurdles Nigerians encounter in simply linking their National Identification Number (NIN) to vital services like mobile phone accounts or bank facilities.

The pandemonium and exasperation prevalent in these endeavours, resulting in citizens squandering valuable time and resources, should stand as a stark warning regarding the government’s competence in executing such extensive identity management schemes.

Moreover, if the concern is the proliferation of identification documents in Nigeria – from international passports and driver’s licenses to voter cards and the existing national ID card – this newspaper holds that this mosaic of identification systems not only spawns unnecessary confusion and bureaucratic headaches for citizens but also casts doubt on the government’s capacity to efficiently orchestrate and amalgamate these diverse platforms.

Instead of tackling these persistent issues head-on, the introduction of yet another identity card appears to be an ill-conceived effort to reinvent the wheel, with scant consideration for the practical challenges confronting Nigerians in their daily lives.

In a nation grappling with limited resources and a plethora of pressing needs, the decision to allocate billions of naira to this new card project is both confounding and deeply concerning. Many would argue that the government’s time and financial resources could be more effectively directed towards enhancing existing infrastructure, fortifying public services, and confronting the numerous socioeconomic challenges plaguing the country.

From the dire state of the healthcare system to the ongoing insecurity that has resulted in significant loss of life, there exist far more urgent issues warranting the government’s attention and, critically, its constrained financial resources.

Moreover, the assertion that the new card will facilitate access to “government intervention programs” for the financially marginalised raises concerns about introducing yet another bureaucratic barrier for vulnerable Nigerians.

Instead of introducing a new identification system, the government’s focus should be on refining and strengthening existing social welfare programs, ensuring they are accessible, efficient, and tailored to meet the needs of the populace.

The government’s ambition to distribute the new card to approximately 104 million citizens is cause for concern. Undertaking such a monumental task without a clear and comprehensive plan is likely to result in further delays, logistical complexities, and a considerable squandering of public funds – resources that could have been channeled towards making tangible improvements in the lives of Nigerians.

In essence, the rollout of the new national identity card with payment functionality reflects a recurring pattern in Nigerian governance: the inclination towards grand, top-down initiatives that often fall short of addressing the underlying issues fueling the country’s challenges.

Instead of pursuing this dubious venture, the government’s focus should shift towards strengthening existing identification systems, fostering better coordination among government agencies, and prioritising investments in areas directly impacting the lives of Nigerians.

As a nation, we must resist the temptation of embracing flashy new projects that promise quick fixes to complex problems.

Achieving genuine progress demands a nuanced, collaborative, and evidence-based approach that acknowledges the distinct needs and challenges of diverse communities.

It’s high time for the government to abandon this latest identity card scheme and redirect its efforts towards more impactful and sustainable initiatives that truly serve the citizens it is sworn to uplift.

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Editorial

Articulated vehicles and the scourge of avoidable deaths

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Nigerians across the country continue to die utterly preventable deaths thanks to a lack of political will on the part of its leaders. It is an ugly fate thrust upon its citizens to live in a country whose economy is built upon the blood of the ordinary people, not out of sacrifice, but nonchalance. Articulated vehicles wipe out families, dreams, and human capital in one fell swoop. Press statements from the leaders are not enough. We need the May 2024 immediacy of the Tinubu administration in this sector too.

Last week, a falling container killed a woman in the Ogudu area of Lagos. The woman was inside a car when the fully loaded 40ft Mack articulated truck fell on it, leading to her instant death, according to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).

In October 2023, a businessman identified as Akuma Kalu, was crushed to death by a 40-feet container that fell on his car along the failed portion of Etche-Ngokpala road in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers state.

In September 2023, five women died in a fatal accident that occurred in the early hours of Friday at Odumodu Junction, Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area along Awka Road, Anambra State. As usual, the container of the truck fell upon the bus carrying these people, killing them. We could go on and on. The story remains the same: tragedy upon tragedy.

Every year, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, does sensitisation with little result to show for it because the arm of the law is too short to punish offenders at the root of the problem. The constant assault on the senses has led to a desensitisation on the part of the populace. Month after month, another story of a truck that erases a family, or multiple families because its brakes fail, or its container is overturned. The combination of the death of empathy on the part of leaders and the emotional exhaustion of the citizens will lead Nigeria down the path of a dystopia.

The governors of each state have a responsibility to institute laws to protect the indigenes. This, the Federal Government must also do nationwide. The FRSC has rules and regulations for trucks. The Government needs to only enforce these rules. Enough of blaming the trucks themselves because they are not the evil entities. The lack of accountability and a weak system perpetuates the dilemma.

The political class should not wait until Nigeria happens to one of their own before acting as is usually the case. Most cases bear the mark of immediate fatality. By the time a family member experiences it, it would have already been too late. We have hope that this administration will do what it takes to restore hope to the common man. Time to act is now.

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Editorial

Renewed Hope Initiative: Beating back inequality in all spheres

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Nigeria is full of inequalities that its leaders contend with administration after administration. With every President comes a partner who shares in the vision, and does her part to alleviate the pains of the citizens. Oluremi Tinubu has etched her name in the annals of history as one of such compassionate ones.

Recently, in Abeokuta she flagged off the Renewed Hope Initiative for women in agriculture and people living with disabilities nationwide in a bid to achieve this noble goal of equity in Nigeria.

“We are supporting 20 women farmers per state with the sum of N500,000 each. To this end, a draft of N10 million per state for the South West zone will be handed over to the first ladies of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo states who are the Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI) state coordinators for onward disbursement to all beneficiaries in their respective states,” she said.

“The Renewed Hope Initiative Social Investment Programme will be empowering 100 persons with disability, small business owners in Ogun State with a sum of N100,000 each to recapitalise their existing businesses.”

In Kebbi, represented by the Wife of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Fatima Tajuddeen Abbas, in Birnin Kebbi, she said, “Agriculture plays a pivotal role in achieving sustainable development and food security. Consequently, we are introducing ‘Every Home a Garden’ competition to encourage each Nigerian woman to cultivate a garden at home to feed the family and share with neighbours, we want to see food on every table.”

We commend the forward thinking and passion for national growth required for such a herculean task. If emulated in all quarters, it will stimulate the economy at the grassroots. It is well acknowledged that the government cannot do it alone. Private individuals who are capable must rise up to contribute to national growth.

It isn’t alien to the Nigerian condition, after all. The country was able to survive the assaults of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the joint efforts of private individuals under the umbrella of Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, a Private Sector task force in partnership with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The Renewed Hope Initiative joins the tradition of programmes committed to national improvement. History will look upon it kindly.

 

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