Nigerian workers want every corrupt Nigerian killed. No, I got it wrong. Some Nigerian workers demand death penalty for treasury looters. Better. Not all workers supported the rally staged by a faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) last week. NLC president Ayuba Wabba and TUC president Bobboi Kaigama sang like birds while making their case at a press conference ahead of the Thursday event. The nationwide rally, they said, was an expression of support for President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign. Abuja and several state capitals played host to the new “corruption fighters” on Thursday, as they carried placards to the offices of some state governments, anti-graft agencies, the National Assembly and the secretary to the government of the federation. But the question remains: what did they hope to achieve?
If the labour leaders’ objective was to raise awareness about corruption, they failed. They said nothing different from what the world reads in the media every day. They merely cited cases of corruption as exposed by former CBN governor Sanusi, NEITI and others. They recounted how local and state chieftains plundered funds meant for local governments. “The organised labour is in support of capital punishment to eradicate or at least reduce the scourge of corruption,” said Wabba. “If capital punishment was introduced and worked elsewhere to eliminate corruption, then we are for it. If it worked in China, we must be ambitious enough to move beyond our lamentation to arrive at our destination.”
Kaigama was a little more liberal. At least he spoke of the lapses in the judicial system and called for special courts to try corruption cases. “We strongly feel that it is better now than ever to address the issue of governance and corruption,” Kaigama stated. “If we don’t fight corruption, corruption will eat us up.”
Our labour leaders can’t be taken seriously, however. Had they requested that only those found guilty of stealing N1billion and above should be killed, they would have made some sense. All acts of corruption can’t carry equal penalty; otherwise, even most of the workers that took part in the rally would be dead. For the past 28 years, corruption has grown to become the only viable industry existing in Nigeria. It has also become the largest creator of jobs, employing tens of millions. That’s why any attempt to uproot it can’t be successful without pulling out the country itself. A major reform of our politics, our moral standard, our income policy and our economic system seems more desirable – and inevitable.
Implementation of the labour unions’ recommendation would make the holocaust a child’s play. Since we have accepted that stealing is corruption, all billionaires won’t need to be tried; they would be marched straight to the guillotine. There is no genuine business that can make anyone working in Nigeria a billionaire. Even N1billion in one person’s pocket must have come from illicit drugs, overinflated government contracts, theft or robbery. Hardly any partisan politician or contractor would be spared.
Next to be executed without trial would be those who created the 1999 constitution and lied that “we the people” gave it to ourselves; they would all be hanged. Then, all public servants who received salaries and allowances without working for them could be tried. Of course, they would be found guilty, tied to a stake and shot. Even messengers that used to ask for tips (through body language or openly) before “missing” files could be found would face the hangman.
Other civil “servants” to be sent to the electric chair would be judges and lawyers whose pastime was altering the course of justice. In any case, it would be easy to trace them by locating their assets, for no honest civil servant can own two cars, not even tokunbo cars. No civil servant depending on his legitimate income can afford to pay his child’s school fees abroad or build a decent house in the city or village. A majority of police, customs and army officers would be found guilty on the first day of the court’s sitting. So would regular and ad-hoc INEC staff, motor-park touts and cheating spouses.
After the public sector, we would move with surviving labour leaders to the private sector. All bankers might risk being beheaded! Several stockbrokers, traders and other middlemen would simply be lined up and shot. Several traditional rulers, church owners and currency traffickers would kiss the world goodbye.
By the time all these are executed, the number of political thugs, armed robbers, kidnappers and terrorists in the country would be in decline. It would be necessary to round up the little criminals, anyway, and throw them into a furnace or a lagoon.
Nigeria’s population would change from 180million to perhaps 80million. Only children and a few adults like me would be left behind in the country. Is that what Wabba, Kaigama and co want?
The real reason for last Thursday’s rally is not far-fetched. Two factions emerged after the NLC congress held in March this year. The faction supported by the government in power then feared that the new government could move against it. To remain in the good books of President Buhari’s government, a rally in support of the anti-corruption agenda became necessary. The other faction led by Joe Ajaero did not take part in the rally. The NLC, it said, should first cleanse its house of corruption.
-By ANIEBO NWAMU