Wednesday, December 31, 2008
NIGERIA, THE 6TH KIDNAPPING-CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!
What an honor indeed? Nigeria is now ranked as the sixth (6) kidnapping country of the world! A sixth country where people are practically stolen from the streets and disappeared only to re-surface after a ransom is paid with the option to be forever gone with the wind! And who still wants to take a chance at being held for ransom and sometimes killed for failure to deliver the king's ransom? The tourist? The investor? The expatriate? The educator? The Foundations staffer? This blogger? You? Me? The list of people staying off is growing and who suffers most but the economy of Nigeria, which is bleeding off all these potential additional tourism revenue due to instability occasioned by fear of kidnappers and other sundry anarchists parading in the country.
Icheoku had written similarly on the kidnapping menace in Enugu State, urging a precise determinate action against such terrorists(kidnap and death of a high chief ); and will like to urge the Federal government of Nigeria to make the crime of kidnapping a death-penalty offence. Kidnapping or fear of it paints Nigeria in a very bad light and sabotages its economy which would otherwise benefit from extra foreign exchange receipts from visitors, tourists and investors wishing to come to Nigeria. With the price of oil, the main stay of Nigeria's economy, tanking, the government need to start taking in revenue from other sources including tourism and the kidnappers should not be allowed to stand in the way. No price is too much to pay to put a stop to this nightmare and Icheoku pledges to support whatever action aimed at stamping out this scourge. The government of Nigeria should therefore treat these miscreants as economic saboteurs and mete a dissuading justice to them accordingly. On the hierarchy of crimes, Icheoku says that kidnapping should rank amongst treason as it attacks the very essence of Nigeria sustenance and by extension, its existence!
Now ranked among such countries like Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechyna, Philippines, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico, Nigeria really need to press the accelerator to zoom out of this crowd fast. All the negative raps already heaped on Nigeria appear to be bad enough, but add kidnapping to it and Nigeria becomes a completely no-go area. Admitted that criminals masking as "businessmen" will always brave any condition whatsoever to see if they can ink one contract or catch a deal anywhere, even in Hell, but the real issue should be the standing of Nigeria in the eyes of the world, especially the tourists. Being tagged a kidnapping mecca of the world is a toga the Nigerian Foreign and Internal Affairs ministries should devote a greater percentage of their resources both in manpower, propaganda and money to wage a ruthless campaign against. They need to cleanse this insignia from Nigeria as the damage is unquantifiable both in revenue and reputation. Whatever it takes, let it be done including breaking some hands and legs if need be. Reputation is priceless and any nation without one is doomed!
Now take a little peek on how these top ten kidnapping-countries are viewed in the eyes of the world, in descending order:-
10. Haiti - It remains an unsafe place to visit, even considering the presence of the UN stabilization force. Kidnappers and street gangs are thriving in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The targets include rich Haitians, diplomats, aid workers and, of course, foreign tourists.
9. Iraq – It doesn't come as a surprise, considering the widespread civil violence, that Iraq isn't one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Violence and kidnappings occur on a regular basis and are mainly aimed at foreigners. Once the home to the most ancient civilizations, Iraq is now a place where several distinct forces are competing for control.
8. Afghanistan – Afghanistan has been experiencing a lot of turmoil in the wars that have been raging on for over 25 years. Presently, several areas of the country remain unsafe for travelers, Attacks targeting foreigners are ever frequent, especially suicide bombings concentrated around foreign embassies. Visitors are recommended to avoid gatherings, avoid travelling alone or at night. Afghanistan presently has one of the most volatile situations.
7. Chechnya – Ever since the Russian empire collapsed in 1991, southern Russian has been marked by the conflict between the Chechen separatists and the Russian forces, thus reducing almost most of the province to sad ruins of a long war. Rich in petro-chemicals, natural gas and oil, the country’s economy and infrastructure have been experiencing a serious crash, due to the on-going conflicts. Tourists are not safe in the country.
6. Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation has a fascinating mixture of over 200 ethnic groups that, coupled with an unstable economy, often leads to a volatile situation. According to news reports, over 200 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta, most situations being resolved with a ransom. It is not a paradise for tourists as they are easy targets of kidnappers.
5. Philippines – The archipelago consisting of 7,107 islands is a fascinating, laid back natural paradise, with friendly, engaging people. But there’s a reason we included Philippines among the countries where tourists are most likely to get kidnapped. North Cotabato, Mindanao, Zamboanga peninsula, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and the Sulu archipelago are just a few areas that a traveller should necessarily avoid. Apart from the usual robberies and kidnappings, foreigners also risk having a drug put in their drink that knocks one out immediately. Tourists are then either robbed, raped or have their kidneys taken. 10 hours are needed to wake up from the drug and another three days to remember what happened.
4.Venezuela – With some of the most spectacular landscapes and the longest waterfall in the world, Venezuela truly is a sight not to be missed, if you’re willing to leave aside street crime, kidnappings or political turmoil. If not, know that street crime is present on a daily basis throughout the country. Tourists in Venezuela are the easiest target for pickpockets; so try to look like anything but a tourist. Don’t wear jewelry, watches, avoid unfolding maps, taking pictures and stay away from poor areas.
3. Colombia – National parks, high mountains, cruise boats or soaring skyscrapers are just a few of the numerous attractions Colombia has to offer. Even though it might sound like an untroubled paradise, Colombia has its fair share of drug dealers, robberies and kidnappings. Even though safety has improved in recent years, Colombia still suffers from high kidnapping and homicide rates in urban areas. The extra violence is provoked by the guerrillas which operate mainly in rural areas – tourists are warned to be avoid the border areas with Ecuador and Venezuela.
2. Brazil – The largest country in South America, teeming with beaches and untamed forests, Brazil is one of the most vibrant and colorful places on the continent. As with the other countries on the list, the downside is the street crime present in big cities, where attacks against tourists have become frequent. Apart from the usual kidnappings, there are also a high number of muggings; so simply leave your valuables at the hotel and take with you only a small amount of money. To top it all off, Brazil experienced an increase in the number of yellow fever and dengue fever cases, so be sure to have your shots before entering the country.
1. Mexico – Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. You’ll come across plenty of corruption and the usual street crime that comes with every big city. Kidnapping for ransom is fairly common, especially in border cities such as Tijuana, Nogales or Juarez. As with other cities on the list, try not to look like a tourist, avoid flashing shiny, expensive objects and you should be fine.
Icheoku says, President Umaru Yar'Adua of Nigeria should call his security council's meeting immediately to harsh out a permanent fix to this creeping ugly trend of kidnapping which is enveloping Nigeria. It does not bode Nigeria any good and if left unchecked will metastasize into another cancer in the body-fabric of the country. It should therefore be stopped forthwith and decisively. Any action or measure taken by the government to root it out will be a welcome development with Nigerians and the international community. Enough of these negative marks on Nigeria's image by a few miscreants; who are cashing in on the present spineless administration to cause more terror and apprehension amongst Nigerians and her visitors. Opportunity calls for Umaru Yar'Adua to rise and shine, and re-establish himself as an authentic Nigerian leader, if only he can muster the will and determination to be a little tough on crimes including kidnapping. Now is the time to seriously mean it and do it, (the fight against crimes) Mr. President!