A Jerry Rawlings solution for Nigeria, By Femi Aribisala
A fictitious prescription for Nigeria’s class of political “lootocrats.”
As the crème de la crème of the Nigerian intelligentsia are currently gathered in Abuja to craft a new roadmap for the country’s political future, there is a very popular option for solving the country’s problem that you can be sure they will not be discussing because many of them are politicians. That option regularly comes up in discussions about how to address the malaise of corruption in Nigeria.
Many Nigerians are convinced that the fail-safe solution to Nigeria’s endemic corruption is “the Jerry Rawlings solution.” As Head-of-State of Ghana, Rawlings gathered together six of Ghana’s (mis)leaders and had them shot publicly by firing-squad. Thus, Farida Waziri, former Chairman of the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) said: “If some 20 high-profile offenders are tried and sentenced to death, this will send shock waves to Nigerians and curb both the impunity and intolerable prevalence of corruption in Nigeria.”
That might not do the trick. 20 misleaders of Nigeria would be much too few. Since there are 36 states in the country, many corrupt misleaders would end up going scot-free. It is a well-worn cliché that what is worth doing is worth doing well. Therefore, there might be need to Nigerianise the Rawlings solution, fully cognizant of the fact that Ghanaians have never won the World Cup in corruption, but Nigeria owns the cup. There are also far more misleading “lootocrats” in Nigeria than the entire population of Ghana, so the Ghanaian example is not a good fit for Nigeria.
This is a fictitious prescription for Nigeria’s class of political “lootocrats” from a cross-section of Nigerians. It is hereby forwarded to the Chairman of the National Conference for due consideration. The position here is that a large chunk of past and present members of the misleading Nigerian political class, running into several thousands, should be tied up at the stake in Bar Beach, Lagos, and shot one-by-one on public television!
This could be done as a surgical operation within one week. That way, everything would be done and dusted before the distraction of the World Cup. Indeed, it would ensure that we would have a World Cup that would not merely provide another avenue for Nigerian officialdom to go on their usual jamboree whereby billions of naira is pocketed at the expense of procedurally-neglected national footballers.
Better still, it could be done over a six-month period for maximum and long-lasting impact on the Nigerian psyche. Every day, 21 members of the Nigerian “lootocracy” would be trotted out and given a fond farewell at Bar Beach on primetime television. This approach is attractive for a number of reasons. It would generate a lot of money through the selling of local and foreign television rights and adverts. Tickets would also be sold at commercial rates to those interested in watching the exercise live.
The names of those affected should not be listed beforehand. That way, a great deal of excitement would be generated daily in anticipation of those whose turn it would be. Of course, this “clean-up” exercise would be done strictly according to the lofty principles of federal character. As a matter of fact, every ethnic nationality in the country would be duly represented, so that there would be no grounds for complaints or even court-cases by any group on grounds of being excluded.
The affected politicians would be allowed to make five-minute statements for the benefit of the nation just before their departure to the above and beyond. An interviewer might ask a question like this: “Your Excellency, Chief, Doctor, Major-General… (it is absolutely important not to forget any of the person’s accolades at this particular juncture) MMD, PSQR, WXYZ, is there anything you would like to tell Nigerians? Any word of wisdom you want to share as to why you are included in this National Merit Award?”
Should the man or woman start cursing and swearing instead, he should not be deterred. He should be granted his fundamental human right to freedom of speech. The only thing is that his outburst must not exceed the statutory five minutes. However, if the misleader is remorseful, and decides to use the opportunity to confess his sins to Nigerians and reveal some of his shenanigans in office, he could be allowed to speak for ten more minutes. If he weeps and pleads for mercy, that would make for great television. He should also be granted ten more minutes of wallowing.
Seeing our erstwhile timber-and-caliber politicians frothing at the mouth would have a great therapeutic effect on rank-and-file Nigerians. Many suffering from different illnesses and sicknesses would be cured instantaneously. The eyes of many blind Nigerians would be opened, out of the determination not to miss this national spectacle. Those misleaders who agree to give the nation chapter-and-verse information as to where their loot is stashed can be given as much as thirty more minutes to make their confessions, in the interest national economic recovery.
All the bank accounts of the distinguished members of this “send-off” party should be sequestered and the monies therein put in a special fund. That fund could then be used to build a “National Institute of Political Corruption and the Looting of Public Funds,” which can be affiliated to one of our Ivy League universities; say ABU or OAU. This Institute should be headed by a Ghanaian in the meantime, until we are sure we have completely cleaned Nigeria of these marauding misleaders. Anybody who dares to make a case for clemency for any of them should be automatically included in the list.
In the same manner that we have elections every four years, we can have these Bar Beach “send-off parties” every five or six years. This process would ensure that the fear of Bar Beach would quickly become the beginning of wisdom for our teeming misleaders. In the first place, it would go a long way to decimate the number of prospective politicians. Quite a number of people would come to realise that they would be caught dead if they were to run for public office. When you ask a man if he would like to be the Governor of Kano State and he replies, “Not on your life,” you would immediately know the reason why.
In the second place, it would ensure that Nigerian politicians reach the conclusion that corruption is a short-cut to the mortuary. Corruption would become more deadly than AIDS and cancer. It would be a disincentive for rigging elections. What would be the point if public office only gives you a visa to go to see your ancestors prematurely? Our politicians would prefer to be university lecturers once again. The president of the Senate would be forced to be a barber in his spare time, to make ends meet.
All the affected politicians would be buried in a specially prepared national cemetery, which would quickly become a tourist attraction. The list of those buried there would be a kind of who-is-who in Nigeria of the recent past. Applications should not be entertained from all and sundry for burial at this special cemetery. We don’t want people dying of natural causes to seek the glory and honour belonging only to misguided politicians.
At the gate, we could have a caption which reads something like this: “Here lies some of the greatest political misleaders Nigeria has ever seen. They were all given a send-off at a party organised by the Nigerian people at Bar Beach in 2014. It is a testament to the great impact these men and women had on Nigeria when they were alive that the country has never been the same again since their departure. Good riddance to bad rubbish.”
It should be clear from the fore-going that one of the main tasks in this exercise would be in compiling the list of those to be sent-off at Bar Beach. The other assignment is that of ensuring that some of the politicians on the list do not escape from the country, only to come back at a later date. One way of avoiding this is by ensuring that this plan is kept absolutely secret. No politician must know that it is in the offing. Indeed, no politician or aspiring politician must be allowed to read this proposal. It must only be accessible to “we, the suffering masses of Nigeria.”
We can borrow the mischievous blueprint of the Nigerian Immigration Service. Invite all politicians, past and present, to a grand award ceremony in carefully-selected stadia in the six geo-political zones of the country. If they were to trample themselves to death in their excitement at being included on the list; all the better. It would reduce the possibility for future congestion at Bar Beach.
Once inside the stadia, we would then lock all the doors and install guards specially imported from Ghana to ensure no one escapes. CCTV cameras would also be installed to monitor them. They would be kept there for the entire duration of the exercise. If they like, they can form new political parties while they are there. Or the PDP members can cross-carpet to the APC and vice-versa. That is their business. They can continue their political shenanigans in the after-life.
After carefully-studying this proposal, my conclusion is that it would entail too much blood-letting. As a matter of fact, it might create more problems than it solves. Therefore, I have a better suggestion. Let us deport just 20,000 of the most misleading politicians of our recent past and present from Nigeria, with the caveat that they cannot return under any circumstances. Let us send them to Siberia; or to better still to Kutuwenji. The question here is which people in their right minds will grant these riff-raffs from Nigeria political asylum? Which country will welcome this scum of the earth? I honestly don’t know.
Nevertheless, I refuse to allow such imponderables to scuttle my prescription. Rather than the Rawlings option, just gather together 20,000 prominent members of Nigeria’s political “lootocracy” and put them one-by-one in “Ghana must go!”