It would have to be one of the most lawless countries on the planet. To live there, particularly if you're from the West, is taking your life into your hands and if those hands aren't filled with hard cash, when it's demanded, then you're on your own.

The last time I visited Nigeria was 13 years ago when leaders from around the Commonwealth had decided to have their annual knees-up in the relatively newly created capital Abuja. The old one, crime-ridden Lagos, had become too hard to handle.

Those attending CHOGM, otherwise known as Chaps Holidaying on Government Money, were cloistered from reality in their ritzy, chandelier-dripping venues which is probably why they blissfully passed yet another declaration on human rights and a commitment to make the lives of those in the Realm better.

Just a week earlier, 11 protesters had been shot dead in the street for protesting the price of petrol and not 10 minutes away from the ritz was a village with open sewer drains, no electricity and no schools where the children begged us to tell the leaders of their plight.


We'd already had trouble of our own checking into our hotels where credit cards meant nothing and where shoe boxes filled with hard cash were instead demanded. If you couldn't come up with it, you were on the street.

Today, fuelled by widespread unemployment, kidnapping for ransom is a growth industry in Nigeria, set against a backdrop of murder, armed robbery and terrorism that plagues the oil-rich country where extracting the Texas tea is wrecking the environment.

So in short Nigeria's not a country where westerners can rest easy. There are currently 25 Kiwis registered as working there, one of them was kidnapped, along with three Australians on their way to work yesterday, after their local driver was shot.

The motive is almost certainly money but John Key says the Government's not into paying ransoms, and of course he's quite right, even though it may sound heartless.

Imagine if a Government did put its hand in the taxpayers' pocket to pay kidnappers. It'd mean that every time any one of us decided to travel to, or work in a dangerous, lawless country like Nigeria we'd leave the airport with a dollar sign above our heads.