If the world had begun in year 2000, Nigeria, would have been the most populous country in the world, meaning that there are more people born in Nigerian more than anywhere else in the world post 2000. But, is this an added advantage or a liability? When you add more of valuable assets, your productivity will increase, but when you add more liabilities, the reverse is the case.
It is not surprising the continuous killings and kidnappings in the country, especially in the north. North contributes higher proportion of the Nigerian population, and yet it faces lack of development, lack of education and insecurity. The region that produces the president and most of the security chiefs could not have peace.
At the moment, no one is safe in the north. This week the UBEC chairman was kidnapped, and according the audio of the telephone conversation I listened to, which was alleged to be a conversation between a relative of the chairman and the chairman himself, a ransom of N60 million was supposed to be paid for his release. Imagine this money was paid? Who are we empowering? Kidnappers?. They would have use the money to buy more arms and kill more people.
The bitter truth is that if northerners keep giving birth to children that they cannot cater for, leaving them on the street to scavenge for food, without educating and clothing them, and without giving them proper upbringing, discipline and religious knowledge, then in the next five years, north will not be habitable.
The inequality in the north is the widest you can obtain anywhere in the world; the desperation and frustration is too much, to the extent that people can do anything just to survive. People live a life that they wish they are dead. If people don’t value their own lives, how would they value other people’s lives.
Money has become the only means of survival, get it or you die, so the competition for money is so extreme. If a person who is uneducated, poor, desperate, and frustrated sees some kidnappers collecting N60 million per night, why won’t they join them, because they either get the money or they die, and they don’t care if they die.
The persistence of these kidnappings is worrisome, and now the elites are becoming the victims. One thing I observe is that once these elites are being kidnapped, they are being released quickly, and the kidnappers would be captured almost immediately. Maybe, the ransom is being paid immediately, unlike a poor man whose family would have to sell assets and contribute money to raise the ransom money.
There is a way we can trace these kidnappers, we can use technological and traceable chips, which can be pinned into the money, so that, the police can keep enough money with them and stick these chips on them. Whenever a case of kidnap is reported, the police will supply these kind of currency notes, and once the victims are released, the criminals would then easily be tracked and arrested. There also has to be capital punishment and to be executed within short time and in the public eyes to serve as deterrent.
Therefore, it is apparent that the northern population is a liability not a value at the moment. The north is the poorest with higher illiteracy and insecurity. There has to be a regional development plan and goal, where policy makers, investors, private individuals, schools and politicians will all center and commit to achieving the unified goals, among which is population for value policy. Every person added to the population must be prepared to add a value, not to become a liability.
Dr. Ahmed Adamu
Petroleum Economist, Leadership and Development Expert, and Lecturer at Economics Department of Nile University, Abuja.