By TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA, Assistant Lagos City Editor
Released chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Lagos State, Kehinde Bamigbetan, for a long period after reliving his five-day experience in captivity to family and friends yesterday, stared into space, shook his head and said in a voice not different from a whisper, “we are sitting on a time bomb in this country.”
Brought back from his reverie by associates who surrounded him, lapping up every word of his ordeal, he explained himself: “With growing youth unemployment in this country, we are all at risk and exposed to danger. The message my abductors specifically asked me to tell Nigerians is that this new wave of kidnapping, especially in Lagos, will continue unless jobs are provided for graduates.”
And he has every reason to be troubled, as a politician and a serving council chairman, his abductors told him when 2015 elections come, they will be doing their elections with guns. “They told me they didn’t like what they were doing but they are graduates with no jobs.
“One claimed to be an engineering graduate, one claimed to have studied Human Resources management, another said he was already in final year in a U.S. varsity when his father’s shopping complex was demolished and he had to be recalled home, while someone said he was an okada rider, whose source of income had been outlawed by government. They were generally bitter about youth unemployment.”
Looking slightly emaciated with body injuries on his face and arms healing, he said the way out of the present quagmire is for government to grant special status to Lagos to address its growing needs. “Lagos is the melting pot of Nigeria. This is where everybody comes to hoping to make it. That is why the federal government cannot continue to ignore Lagos. They must grant special status to Lagos. That is the way we can address the issue of massive graduate unemployment.
“Graduates from every states are coming to Lagos to seek employment. As the commercial hub of the country, there should be massive provision of jobs. Without more money coming to the state to provide jobs, we cannot escape this trend of kidnapping. Everybody is at risk; they have gone beyond car snatching to kidnapping.
“And as we move into the election year in 2015, they hear of billions being spent on frivolities, they see the crazy budgets voted for projects disappear into private pockets and they have decided to take up arms against the state and its citizens. PDP government has exposed all of us to danger; this is why we are insisting we should try another party like the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The solution is very clear, engage youth employment and provide more money for Lagos to address these issues. The governor is trying his best, but without massive resources to tackle the problem of unemployment, crime would always be an issue in this state,” he said.
Bamigbetan, still dressed in the white lace he wore last week Monday when he was abducted close to his house, attributed his release to God and the prayers of friends and well-wishers. On the night he was released, he was driven blindfolded for over four hours before he was dropped at Badagry checkpoint.
“When I was to be released, they asked if I could drive, I said yes. They said because everybody is looking for them, I have to drive myself home. They took me to a point and dropped me close to the border checkpoint at Badagry where a manual car was provided for me and the blindfold was removed.
“They told me where to drop the vehicle when I got home that they will come and pick it. And around 10pm, I walked home after securing the car, which I guess must have been stolen.”