Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday, said the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and that of President Muhammadu Buhari paid ransom to kidnappers but denied doing so.
Obasanjo, who cautioned against the payment of ransom to kidnappers, also said that the government must develop means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of ransom payment.
Obasanjo also revealed that he does not believe in payment of ransom to kidnappers and bandits, saying it encouraged criminals indulging in the act.
The former president, who berated any government that pays ransom, describing them as follies, spoke on Wednesday at his Penthouse residence within Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while playing host to members of Tiv professionals Group led by Prof Zacharys Anger Gundu.
Obasanjo, insisted that it requires a “carrot and stick” approach to fight insecurity challenges to a standstill, said: “Some people are still reaching out, and hoping that lives can still be saved. But a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly. He is a folly. This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage. But if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it.
“Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”
The President also expressed fears that those beating drums of division in Nigeria don’t think about the interest of the minority ethnic groups.
“Where do we want those minor groups to stand? Wherever they stand, now they are by virtue of Nigeria’s present situation a little bit protected. But if Nigeria breaks up and they are in a smaller country, they will be oppressed. They will always be exterminated. Are we thinking of that?
“I believe that if we will get it right in Nigeria, any leader must look at Nigeria with the prism of the diversity of Nigeria. For as long as you look at Nigeria with the prism of your ethnic group, then you aren’t going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group.
“But is there hope? There is hope”, he said.