These days, it seems every Nigerian who can put their mouth around a long object is trying rather hard to get down on President Buhari’s business. For example, Mister Ayuba Waba, the head honcho of the Nigerian Labour Congress, seems to have had a rather bright way of introducing himself to the new administration. He has come up with the seemingly revolutionary but actually deadbeat idea of raining on the political parade by killing politicians who have the temerity to steal from public funds. This, without irony, and without regard to all the evidence in Nigerian history that shows that killing politicians has never solved an effing problem.
But Mister Waba is not one to be discouraged by history when he can make out with geography, instead. To drive home his figuratively bloodthirsty request, he hopped over to one the least heterogenous countries in the world to pick an example of social studies. And so, according to him: “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.” Just look at that, Reminisce and co will be proud of this new local rapper: “we have to move beyond our lamentation to arrive at our destination”.
Rhyming skills aside, Mister Waba is simply saying we should slaughter all these corrupt politicians. And, really, who can blame him? Anyone who has never felt the need to slaughter a politician at one point or the other is either a politician or an asshole–which is saying the same thing. The problem, though, is that in this instance, there would be little or no mass demonstrations, angry cudgels and burning tyres to facilitate this awesome slaughtering. Instead, it would be left to the discretion and control of policemen, investigators, lawyers, judges, and even more politicians. And this is where one begins to wonder if Mister Waba has actually thought this deal through.
Because, you see darlings, public corruption in Nigeria actually has little to do with the nature of the punishment. Common sense says you should be able to sentence people first before you start wondering if the punishment is sufficient. But as any “charge and bail” lawyer will tell you, there’s a wide gap between the start of an allegation and any eventual sentencing—especially if you’re a rich politician in the first place. And, fellas, it is useless to have the deadliest penalty in the law books when the only public officials who will get convicted are the ones who have personally breached the political code, anyway.
Let’s be clear here: politicians don’t just land in court like teens on a porn site. No, ma. First, the EFCC (or the police) would require some form of “Oga at the top” clearance to investigate a politician and gather evidence. Next, the case has to be instituted in court with the implicit sanction of the relevant Attorney General. After this comes the really fucked-up part: the prosecution of the case, fought by, often underfunded and undertrained, government prosecutors against an array of highly-funded “Senior Advocates” with armies of researchers doing overnight work in law libraries. Even worse, this part of the process could take some sweet two to five years.
This is the point when “smart” prosecutors begin to rethink the unfortunate steps that led to their career choice and decide to go for the option of a plea bargain. This compromise, butt-hurting as it is, actually saves the government time and money, and even guarantees the recovery of some loot. But, assuming the prosecutor is just as bloodthirsty as Mister Waba, or is as suitably motivated as the defence lawyers, or maybe the President really really wants to see the offender hanged, well, the judge still has to be convinced that the allegations have been proved beyond fucking reasonable doubt. Now, nobody (except, maybe, the same bloody politicians) has control over this decision. But, it is if, and only if, the judge makes this decision that a sentence is pronounced—whether paltry fine, short or long imprisonment, or the much lauded-death sentence.
Yet, of all these stomach upsets, it is the sentencing stage—the “warreva” stage—that seems to worry Mister Waba in his suddenly inspired war against corruption. Mister Waba isn’t asking for the independence of the police from the, usually, shitty control of the Presidency. He hasn’t asked for the discretionary powers of the Attorney General to be put on hold. He hasn’t even asked for the equipment, empowerment and motivation of the ministry workers and government lawyers. Mister Waba hasn’t asked for serious law reform in all the obvious areas, he just wants the Nigerian version of Game of Thrones to get even bloodier.
Yet, if by some cocked-up chance, Mister Waba’s wishes were granted, the freaking National Assembly would pull their usual dick move by ensuring that such a law captures all possible acts of public corruption. This means gatemen, secretaries, file clerks, police officers, personal assistants and everyone else below the level of permanent secretary will be covered. Wham and bang, the prison yards of Nigeria will be piled up with the dead bodies of poor Nigerians who have been caught by the new “anti-corruption” law.
And, here’s the lesson in all this: as long as the same type of politicians are in power under this Nigerian System, no politician would be killed by other politicians unless they want to risk a civil war. But no, Mister Waba doesn’t think of complicated political shit like this. He only wants to push a law that will ultimately result in the death of more ordinary Nigerians. Which makes you wonder if Mister Waba is really pulling a James Ndu on us and batting for both teams. Because, the only way this issue is going to go down as requested is if Mister Waba wants his workers killed.
And we wonder if they all agree with him on this.