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Tony Elumelu is in his office on the corner of a serene Ikoyi street, not far from the bustling Obalende taxi and bus park, in the heart of Lagos. Documents are strewn across a large desk and he looks busy.
“I was in a meeting in this office when I got the call. The first thing I did was to call one of my brothers, to mandate him to take charge. In crisis management, the first thing you do is get somebody to take charge,” he says.
It was a call that everyone dreads. Kidnappers had snatched his 84-year old mother, Suzanne, from her farm in the Delta State. Elumelu, realizing the futility of panic, strove to deal with the situation calmly. By all accounts, there was nothing frenzied about his actions in the days following the kidnapping.
I ask if he expected something like that to happen. His answer is instant and forceful: “Not at all!” Elumelu sums up the incident as “a symptom” of the prevailing despair in the country. Nigeria’s security agencies “were very supportive,” he says.
It all ended well, she was rescued four days later, and arrests were made. The message from the Elumelu family on Facebook says it all.