Interview with Bashir Obasekola
Russia Today: How dangerous is it to work in Nigeria for foreigners?
Bashir Obasekola: Let me start by saying that we are very happy that these workers were freed without being harmed at least, and without any fatalities. Nigeria is one of the greatest economies of Africa. Of course we welcome foreigners, and a lot of foreigners work in Nigeria, part of them in the Niger delta where this issue of kidnapping is very rampant. We are very accommodating people, we welcome foreigners, so generally we can say that Nigeria is not so dangerous for foreigners to work in. But what happened in the Niger delta is the issue of criminality, or politics with criminal aspects to it. The foreigners are kidnapped because these people want to draw attention of the world to the region’s predicament. This region produces all oil we have in Nigeria and infrastructure is backward, attention is not paid to them, there is no education for most of the youth, and lots of the work they are supposed to be doing is occupied by these foreigners. So the youth is becoming criminalised, that is why they take hostages. The thing is that the federal government of Nigeria is making efforts in combating this and people, the leaders of these ethnic groups that occupy the Niger delta, are being involved in negotiations.
RT: You’ve just told us that this does not happen too often that people are kidnapped in Nigeria. But still, when and if it happens – those people who kidnap foreigners, are they motivated by money or they have some political goals?
B.A.: We are talking about the Niger delta where this happens because they have been neglected for quite a long time. And kidnapping the foreign workers they are fighting to draw the world’s attention to their community. Of course some of these young people use this opportunity to create their own cult and start kidnapping foreign workers for ransom. So, yes, there is some element of criminality there.
RT: And the last question. How often are the kidnapped people released without ransom? Is this a frequent occurrence or it happens rarely?
B.A.: We can say categorically that there have been no fatalities, as far is hostage-taking is concerned, since late 1990-s. Of course a lot of foreign workers and Nigerians – I want to draw the attention of the world community to that, that not only foreign workers are being kidnapped in this region – Nigerians, who are workers of the international oil companies become victims too. But we think that situation will be normalised.