In recent months, the once-vibrant capital city of Nigeria, Abuja, has fallen victim to a distressing surge in kidnapping cases, leaving residents grappling with not only fears for their safety but also significant economic repercussions, according to a comprehensive report released by SBM Intelligence, a reputable research advisory firm. The report, titled ‘Inside Nigeria’s Hostage Capital: Unravelling the Economic Impact of Abuja’s Kidnap Epidemic,’ sheds light on the grim reality faced by Abuja’s populace. The rising cases of kidnapping have contributed to a palpable atmosphere of insecurity, leading to a 33% decline in economic activities, as disclosed by the research firm.
SB Morgen’s extensive analysis reveals a surge in minor thefts, ‘One Chance’ robberies, armed robberies, and home break-ins, painting a bleak picture of the security situation in the country’s capital. The research firm conducted thorough interviews with residents across various locations in Abuja, supplementing their findings with an analysis of news reports to provide a comprehensive overview. The economic impact of the kidnapping surge is evident in various facets of Abuja’s daily life. The report highlights a 10 to 50 percent rise in rent in upscale areas, with property values plummeting, particularly in affected regions like Bwari and its surroundings.
Implications of the escalating kidnapping incidents.
Landlords are grappling with the consequences as individuals relocate, potentially deterring prospective buyers and investors, thus adversely affecting the local real estate market. Transportation fares have skyrocketed by 100 to 250 percent due to the prevailing crisis, forcing residents to grapple with increased expenses for movement within the city centre. The once-reliable public transport service, ‘Along,’ has become a hotspot for ‘One Chance’ operatives, compelling residents to opt for more secure alternatives such as Bolt and Uber.
Unfortunately, the report notes that the increase in fuel prices has rendered these ride-hailing services relatively expensive. The ripple effects extend to the city’s nightlife, with a 33% downturn in economic activities impacting night markets, hangout spots, and recreational and entertainment venues. City workers, fearful of the escalating insecurity, now prefer heading straight home rather than engaging in late-night shopping or recreation, leading to reduced patronage for local businesses. As a response to the heightened insecurity, residents, both individuals and businesses, are diverting extra resources toward reinforcing security measures.
Urgent call for government action amid financial strain.
The increased expenditure on security systems, personnel, and protective measures is imposing additional strain on personal and corporate budgets. Acquiring supplementary security comes at a considerable expense, exacerbating the challenges already posed by the country’s economic hardships. The report reveals a staggering statistic – approximately 283 individuals were abducted in a one year period between January 15, 2023, and January 15, 2024. The insecurity, initially concentrated in satellite towns like Bwari and Kuje, is steadily encroaching into the main city centres, bringing the menace closer to the heart of Nigeria’s government.
To curtail the growing kidnapping incidents, SBM Intelligence emphasizes the urgent need for proactive government intervention. Apprehending perpetrators and setting a precedent to discourage others from engaging in such criminal activities is paramount. The report suggests that addressing the lack of affordable public transportation in Abuja should be a priority to enhance residents’ security while commuting. Furthermore, establishing an ongoing dialogue with the community is crucial for the government to understand and respond to residents’ needs effectively. The report advocates for the introduction of a governor, or ideally a mayor with autonomous executive powers separate from the federal government, to instigate accountability and prompt the adoption of protective measures.
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As the kidnapping epidemic in Abuja not only endangers lives but also significantly impacts the city’s economic landscape, urgent and comprehensive government intervention is essential to restore safety and stability, alleviate economic strains, and safeguard the well-being of Abuja’s residents. Also, at a time when kidnapping had become endemic in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the citizens need to be assured of and guaranteed safety. After all, the capital city should be one of the safest in the country.