The abduction of an as at yet unspecified number of undergraduates of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, is one abduction too many. It marks both an unacceptable escalation and an expansion of this menace, and we must not only ensure that the abducted youths are rescued, but even more importantly, we must put in measures to prevent future reoccurrences.
This must not be allowed to become our new normal. It is time for us as a nation to face the reality that we have an emergency on our hands. A catastrophe that must be decisively dealt with before it snowballs into an existential crisis.
We must stop treating these acts of criminality with kid gloves. Enough is enough! There must be the safety of lives and property in our citadels of learning. Without it, there would be a loss of confidence in the sector, which will result in low enrolment rates in a country that is amongst the highest statistically for out of school children.
This is all the more reason why I have maintained in the past that impunity must give way to punitive measures. When criminals profit from their criminality, crime will increase.
The only response from all governments in Nigeria to acts of abduction, kidnapping and unlawful detention of persons ought to be to bring the full weight of the law on the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
Once these criminals have clarity on what awaits them should they toe such evils paths, then their audacity to commit evil will be weakened, and gradually, this ugly chapter in our national life will become a thing of the past.
I renew the call I made on Monday, March 15, 2021, for a state of emergency to be declared in the education sector and for 24 hour armed guards to be posted at all schools in the affected states.
Yes, it is an expensive venture. Nevertheless, we must accept that whatever we invest in preserving the lives of Nigeria’s youth is worth the price, as nothing is, or can be more valuable to us than our youths, who will take up the baton after we are gone.
Waziri Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of Nigeria, 1999–2007