Nigeria’s Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has cautioned Federal and 36 state governments against payment of ransom to kidnappers, bandits, and other terrorists, saying such an approach was emboldening reign of terror across the nation.
He added that contrary to insinuations from different quarters, he does not believe in payment of ransom to bandits and kidnappers, and in his own capacity, he would have adopted more fierce approach in dealing with the terrorists.
The former president said that though they were in denial, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and that of his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan paid ransom to kidnappers and bandits.
Speaking at his Penthouse residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Wednesday when he received members of Tiv professionals Group (TPG) led by Prof Zacharys Gundu, the elderstateman said that it was important the government must develop means to deal decisively rather than payment of ransom payment.
According to him, the risining insecurity challenges, including banditry, kidnappings require a “carrot and stick” approach to fight insecurity challenges to a standstill.
“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 folly. He 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.
“Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it,” he said
Obasanjo added that it was regrettable that those at forefront of demanding separation in Nigeria were not considering interest of minority ethnic groups in the country.
“Where do we want those minor groups to stand? Wherever they stand, now they are by virtue of Nigeria’s present situation a little bit protected. But if Nigeria breaks up and they are in a smaller country, they will be oppressed. They will always be exterminated. Are we thinking of that?
“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 aren’t going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group. But is there hope? There is hope.”