By Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta
The former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has said he does not believe in payment of ransom to bandits or kidnappers.
Obasanjo lamented specifically that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan had paid ransom to kidnappers and bandits but stated both administrations denied it.
He noted that payment of ransom to kidnappers and bandits encourages criminals indulging in the act, recommending the Federal Government must devise means to deal with kidnappers and bandits sternly and heavily in place of ransom payment.
The elder statesman spoke on Wednesday at his Penthouse residence within the sprawling Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State when he received members of Tiv professionals Group (TPG) led by Prof Zacharys Anger Gundu.
“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.”
The former President said leaders must ensure 2023 birth a new Federation otherwise the country may slide into dissolution.
According to him: “I do believe that whatever else we do, we have to make the year 2023 a watershed for Nigeria. The year 2023 should give us the beginning of emergence of a new federation or feeling that the rot continues, and then, we are going to be sliding back to dissolution. God forbid.
“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.”