Killing As Healing: Trouble!!!
EVERY time someone who should know pronounces on the industrial production level of Nigerian corruption, some final solution guru insists that we line up all the so-called corruption accused and shoot them all. Look at what Rawlings did in Ghana. Look at Ghana today, do you see corruption at the Nigerian scale there? Killing people for any reason might satisfy the immediate anger of the offended, they do not rid any society of corruption, nor do anything for the infrastructure that should build the economy. Let us go down the history lane.
In each of the places where there has been violent attempts to change society, more bloodletting has only resulted. In the case of the French Revolution in 1789 or thereabout, the revolution even consumed those who brought it about. Lenin at the inception of the Russian Revolution had all the bourgeoisie executed, a feat that Stalin repeated later, to no avail. Some clever lady comrade warned Lenin never to believe that a short cut is a final solution and to remember that the lesser of two evils is still an evil. But you have to wait until 1989 at the final collapse of the Soviet Union under weight of cumulative upper level corruption that they would all remember. And it would be late by then. And there was the little matter of Pol Pot who emptied a whole country’s capital of the middle class, sent them into the countryside and certain death in their millions living and working the land. It did not work either.
As for Ghana, we are too close to draw lessons. It is the superior authority of parents who, out of superior anger, smack their children left and right and feel okay. The child forgets the punishment but not the offence. The two players will perform their roles: parent punishment, children offence, world without end. Nigerian ownership of state violence has never been a monopoly. There is something healthily subversive about Nigerian attitude to the ownership and management of state and private sector violence. The armed forces, the police force and the pretend forces such as boys scouts and boys brigade are all in the public domain. Everybody and anybody can either have it or else knows someone who can help her get it. So, if you do me today, don’t think I cannot do you worse tomorrow. So, who is it among us without sin would line up those with money in overseas bank and shoot them? Those whose seniors the guilt ones are? The course mates and classmates? The relatives and in laws? As Trouble has always maintained, punishing corruption disrupts relationships. And we are all related in Nigeria and we do not like disruptions. In Nigeria nobody is going to kill anyone to heal the wound of corruption. Killing has never worked in healing these wounds. And anyway, these thieves have only stolen the harvests of yesterdays. The land is still abundant with the possibilities of tomorrow.
In spite of these limitations, some things need to be done to curb and finally make corruption a manageable irritant in our society. Two major immediate solutions would be suggested and hopefully, they can be refined and adapted to work for Nigeria. The first is a version of the sunset clause and the second is a version of the inheritance tax/task.
Sunset clauses are like plea-bargaining, the lesser of two evils. The two evils are getting away with crime and paying just a token for your crime. Paying a little is still evil but you don’t get away with paying nothing. Sunset clause in this case will stipulate that those who are exposed for corruption are exposed and persuaded to hand over as much as they can be forced to hand over. They can live on the proceeds of their criminality for the rest of their lives. After that, they forfeit everything they have left to the grateful country that they have served with such diligence.
In suggesting the inheritance tax/task as an instrument of curbing corruption, one is aware of the failure of law and order in Nigeria. But communities, societies, clubs and countries need law and order. And that need for law and order will still end this piece. Inheritance laws are used to ensure that fewer and fewer percentages of inherited wealth passes on to the next pampered generation. They generally waste the wealth anyway. But legally, the tax system of the country can and should structure a format for ensuring that fewer and fewer descendants of corrupt officers benefit from their ancestors’ crimes.
Order; those blessed teachers of St. Andrew’s College, Oyo, used to say that Order is the first law in heaven. It should be the same on earth. We need to entrench the concept of law and order in the fabric of our being. We must have zero-tolerance for any and all infringements. Zero-tolerance.