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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Seeds of hope, harvests of despair

Bashorun Randle in this first part of the discourse argues that it is wicked and inhuman for anyone who is put in a position of trust to be corrupt

OXFORD University is in Oxfordshire which shares a common border with the Cotswold arguably the most picturesque and scenic part of England.

However, we were denied the indulgence of proceeding with our scheduled excursion to Burford the mini-capital of the Cotswold when His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Saa’d Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto delivered his address at the Africa Week: “It is the primary responsibility of the Government to safeguard the lives and property of the people regardless of where they choose to live.

“Once a government fails in performing this obligation, it opens up the nation to chaos and violence. I appeal to all Nigerians to shun bigotry and work together for the national development. No nation can develop when the mode of communication among its citizens is through violence.

Also, it is a matter of serious concern that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children. We have no business accumulating illiterates if our nation’s resources are properly managed.” The Sultan was warmly applauded for his candour. Indeed, as if taking a cue from the Sultan, the Anglican Bishop of Kaduna, Most Reverend Josiah Idowu Fearon grabbed the bull by the horn and declared:

Every facet of Nigeria is corrupt: “Every facet of our communal life as a nation including the church, government, military and the civil service among others are infested with corruption. I advocate the passing of a bill in the National Assembly to fight corruption as a way of addressing the menace. The insecurity bedeviling the country today is as a result of corruption. I strongly condemn the manner in which corrupt officers are being celebrated in our country.

There can be no meaningful development if corruption is not checked. We must all come together whether you are a Christian or a Muslim. We must all go back to our religions and know what our religions have to say about corruption.

God hates corruption. Nigerians who are coming in as politicians, either as president, governor or any other position should be made to declare their assets before and after their tenure in office. Indeed, although it is not in the Constitution, bishops, general overseers and public office holders should be made to declare their assets publicly.”

The entire hall burst into a frenzy of “Good Talk Bishop.” As confirmation that the legislature must have its say, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, walked briskly to the podium and declared: “Nigerians today live in a country of fantastic contradictions where there are great human and material resources, yet we are always on the list of countries with the worst poverty index.

Our economy is alleged to be growing but the lives of the majority of our citizens do not convey this testimony.  We have more places of worship per square metre than most nations on this earth, but corruption and violence threaten our very survival as a nation. We have some of the best agricultural lands in the world but we import food.  We are the sixth largest producer of crude oil but we import fuel.

“The National Assembly is already at the forefront of charting a new course for our country commencing with the huge task of amending the 1999 Constitution, in order to entrench economic and infrastructural renewal.” Then he exploded in fury. He dropped a bombshell by calling for a revolution!! “Throughout history, the most compelling reasons for revolution have been injustice, crushing poverty, marginalization, rampant corruption, lawlessness, joblessness and general disaffection among the ruling elite – all of which are evident in the Nigerian equation.

Successive governments have tried to deal with these issues but to no avail. The legislature has become increasingly concerned about the over-celebration of input-oriented budget that does not incorporate feedback mechanism for output and outcomes.” That was when it hit us that our country is in real trouble.

Before the applause had died down, Chief Ladi Williams SAN an eminent lawyer whose father the late Chief F.R.A. Williams S.A.N. and grandfather as well as brothers and children are lawyers stepped up to declare:

Capital punishment is the solution to corruption: “For me, a desperate situation requires drastic steps to be taken. If you are a judge and you are found to be corrupt; if you bring shame to the judiciary, if you are a judge and have no integrity; or you habitually break the code of conduct of your office, we should apply the Chinese solution. That is execution. In China if you are corrupt, you will be executed because you are a danger to the larger community.

Once you are convicted of corruption, it is not enough to say we have retired you.  No. If you are corrupt you should be executed, otherwise this nation will not move forward. I think the law of the land should be revised to deal ruthlessly with corruption and nothing short of execution will stop corruption.  There is no reason why the children of the poor must remain poor.

There is no reason why every child of school going age should not be enjoying free education, free health care, and free transportation to and from school with the millions and billions of naira we are making from oil.  It is wicked, inhuman for anybody who is put in a position of trust to be corrupt.

That is why I think the death penalty, if only for a short while, let it be a short-term therapy and you will see that there will be change.


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