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Level of corruption in Nigeria requires strong leadership, death penalty – Sagay

Presidential anti-corruption adviser, Itse Sagay, says the level of corruption in Nigeria is antithetical to any form of development and, therefore, advocates ‘strong leadership’ and death penalty as punishment for convicted corrupt public officials.

Mr Sagay, professor of law and senior lawyer, said Nigeria and the West have different civic cultures and realities, which then mean the former should not imitate the latter.

“On the issue of capital punishment, I strongly support capital punishment,” said Mr. Sagay, speaking delivering the convocation lecture at the Federal University, Akure, on Thursday.

He continued, “I don’t understand why Nigerians are feeling over-sophisticated, trying to imitate Europe and America and so on where they have reached such a standard that murder and other types of crimes are very low.

He urged the executive arm of the Nigerian government to apply “absolute strength, power and discipline” to democratic governance.

Delivering the lecture entitled, “Nigeria, the travails of an animal kingdom”, Mr Sagay said that the topic was an expression of his displeasure over the manner which Nigerian elites act.

“The title of this lecture was deliberately chosen to express and articulate my impression of Nigeria as well as the anguish and frustrations I am personally experiencing about the behaviour, conduct and orientation of the Nigerian Elite,” he revealed.

He likened Nigeria, with the ubiquitous of corruption, to the ‘animal kingdom’. Worse still, he said, the country’s judiciary has not proven its commitment to combat the menace of corruption.

He said, “Human beings are supposed to have evolved beyond living to eat, sleep and eat like lower animals. We should eat in order to live and not live in order to eat like lower animals. But what do we do in this country? Once given a position of trust and responsibility, our elites go into a feeding frenzy; loot billions, acquire 50 houses, have mansions in the U.K., Spain, the Caribbeans, etc.

“On their part, Judges are claiming immunity from prosecution for corruption, grievous body harm and even murder. The gravity of this development cannot be overstated. Without the willingness and commitment of the judiciary to the anti-corruption struggle, it will fail ab initio.”

Stressing that the trend must not be allowed to continue, Mr Sagay used the examples of Singapore and Rwanda to underscore the nexus between development and no-tolerance for corruption.

“Singapore had problems with political corruption. Lee Kuan Yew introduced legislation giving the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) greater power to conduct arrests, search, call up witnesses and investigate bank accounts and income tax returns of suspected persons and their families.

“Another example in our very backyard in East Africa is Rwanda, a country brought down to a comatose state by genocide and crimes against humanity during which over 1 million citizens were massacred. Today, under the firm rule of Paul Kagame, within a democratic framework, Rwanda has developed so rapidly that it has overtaken Nigeria in terms of standard of living the quality of life, social development, infrastructure and so on,” he said.

He also observed that there is a relationship between development and strong leadership.

Most observers describe Kagame’s personality as one of seriousness and intelligence. His personality was that of “chronic impatience, barely suppressed anger and impulsive scorn for critics. We need a leader with barely suppressed anger to eradicate corruption and indiscipline in our public life,” he said.

The FUTMinna convocation featured conferment of various degrees on a total of 3,741 students, of which 3,096  received bachelor’s degree, 426 were awarded master’s degree, 46 others  bagged PHDs, and 173 were awarded post-graduate diplomas in various disciplines.

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