One of the ethics of travel journalism is to tell your readers the true situation of things in a destination ecosystem. It will amount to betrayal of the industry and the travelling public to withhold information on security, border entry requirements, health regulations, and requirements and even as mundane as state of roads and vehicular entrapment.
On this beat, I have done, visited, slept, and eaten in the 36 states, and that includes Abuja. If you regularly follow this column and my posting on social media, you must have read of certain cautionary remarks and reviews embedded in my reports without intent to scare you or demarket our tourism space.
Indeed, in reporting tourism in Nigeria, which comes with unexplainable hazards, it is wise to do so without necessarily spicing fear and discouraging travelling.
It is, however, wicked to know about something negative or evil without alerting the innocent, particularly those who love to experience the rich culture and hospitality of our nation and people.
Nigeria is a great virgin destination with vistas of beautiful stories, wonder lust green biospheres, waterways, and waterfalls and alluring and stupendous culture. Three hundred tribes and tongues, fussive and exciting expressive hospitality, sound bites, and interpretative drumming and dancing, gregarious and hospitable people, beautiful coastlines, great farming communities and mesmerising dribblers on the field of soccer games.
Anywhere you go, Nigeria, beckons you with love and excitement. Each state, community, and ethnic nationality in Nigeria is a wonder to behold, usually gifted in cultural tourism diversity, endemic, and unique.
I love this country and our Nigeria and i have taken certain risks to keep its rich and incomparable tourism economy in view, encouraging our people and the tourism world to haste up a travel encounter.
In recent times, however, particularly in the past six years, security breaches on our roads, farms, and communities have become worrisome. We have oscillated from fear to hope and lack of confidence in arresting the trend to outright hopelessness.
Except for recent trips to Taraba, where I shuttled for five hours by road from jalingo to Serti, and to Ijebu and Oyo, I was mindful to request my hosts to arrange security for me.
If you ask me, I felt caged and uncomfortable, looking right and left, too careful to stop to mingle and relish local farm produce and fruits. Though I pride myself as intrepid and adventurous, the fear that certain deranged persons with guns, terrorising our roads, villages, and schools, waiting around somewhere as a predator is unbelievable
In past weeks, it’s been one kidnapping to another in almost all states, served alacarte. Kogi state is Nigeria’s Bermuda triangle as any vehicle, particularly commercial vehicles, and their passengers are swallowed without any trace. Enugu, one of Nigeria’s most peaceful and beautiful state, has been castrated by kidnappers who now boldly fish out their victims on the streets.
I won’t touch Owerri, a place where every minute is trouble. The situation in Owerri is particularly worrisome. A place once so peaceful, progressive, and attractive to Nigerians and foreigners alike due to the hospitality of the people suddenly became pregnant with fearful disruptive tendencies.
Before the covid pandemic and the new political leanings in the state, Owerri is the fastest growing commercial destination in the entire Eastern frontier.
Not any longer, and who can explain the daily blood letting. Another place that I won’t talk about due to disappointing pain in my heart is calabar. The natural protective wall around calabar will make it difficult for kidnappers to thrive, yet what with the sad stories emerging from there. Kaduna is crazy and suicidal. Brinin Gwari, once the virgin landscape has gone bloody.
I know my way through Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, and Borno, good old memories, but I won’t dare the highways around these places.
Jos is particularly painful. Recently, a top respected traditional ruler advised me to stay off venturing to certain local communities in the state. I had recently done Abuja to Jos by road and, in fact, like thrice weekly, but I had to submit to higher inner strength. You can’t imagine travelling on our roads, not knowing what lay ahead, your heart pumping up blood and your brows sweaty out fear of the unknown gunmen.
These days, it is not about road accidents snuffing out the lives of innocent Nigerians but kidnappers. They are the king of roads, fearless and making travel around Nigeria a nightmare. Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Niger states hold the ignoble ace.
It is not about the American embassy issuing travel alerts, flagging down our states as insecured, we are in a deep hole, and it is killing our economy and development.
I just kind of wonder if our security people are truly worried about the rise and rise of kidnappings and other security breaches, making Nigeria look like a banana republic?
The cacophony of confusion between the states and federal government on how best arrest this sad development is benubing.
There’s no denying the fact that if one gets kidnapped in Nigeria today, the case of your release and freedom lies between your family and God almighty. Don’t ask me if the state can rescue you!
And woe bestide you if God or your family have forsaken you. Should that be the case? Are we so worse off that we can not trust our leaders, our security agencies.?
We have read of huge appropriation and releases to security agencies, yet the situation is getting worse by the day, and I wonder.
Sometimes, it is provoking to hear that the president’s approval is needed before security agencies would go after the hoodlums.
Interestingly, that is the seventh wonder in the world, to wait, for a presidential approval before going after criminals who boldly and severally breached the peace of your people.
Kidnapping is now business as usual, narrow way to flirty riches, bloody money, and everyone confounded, and yet we sleep with our eyes firmly closed. What a people and nation!
If wishes were horses, I would as President remove any police commissioner or army chief whose area of command kidnappings or infractions take place. The same measures go to officers at lower structures of the security architecture and even traditional rulers.
If something is intractable and problematic, uncommon courage and efforts must also be deployed to tackle it. Even when the kingdom of God suffereth violence, it takes the very violent in prayers to take it back by force.
We should not allow our great country to just become a cemetery overnight instead of being a place of peace and tranquillity. We need men and women who can repair the security breaches in Nigeria. Enough of excuses and back passing of failings.