On Tuesday, some three Nigerians alongside five others were executed for drug trafficking by the Indonesian government. The execution was carried out despite pleas from the Nigerian government, United Nations, and Amnesty International. The Indonesian government believes that hard drugs are responsible for the death of a good number of their citizens. And so it continues: you deal with drugs, you face the death penalty.

Coming back to Nigeria, hard drugs is not one of those offences that attract the death penalty. This is not unconnected with the fact that every human society has its own peculiarities, and certain conducts considered morally reprehensible. Thus, those conducts that constitutes threat to the safety and existence of a people are severely punished. In line with this, armed robbery, murder and treason are punishable with death in Nigeria. Robbery for instance, was a serious menace some decades ago, such that one could hardly travel with peace of mind from one state to another without being robbed. So in order to deter armed robbers, the act received the capital punishment.

Based on the foregoing, one of the challenges that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will be faced with is corruption and impunity. Corruption is responsible for the death of many Nigerians, more than AIDS and cancer combined together have caused. This may not be overt and direct, but the looting and embezzlement of our leaders have sent many compatriots to their early graves. This is manifested in the lack of good health care facilities in most of our hospitals in the rural areas; deplorable state of our roads highly characterized by enormous pot holes; lack of employment forcing thousands to resort to “living by the sword”, amongst others. Poverty is prominent in a typical rural setting in Nigeria, and this results to malnutrition, which further leads to death. This is not because Nigeria is so wretched that it cannot afford to cater for the needs of its citizens, but because so many of those in authority have taken it upon themselves to amass for their selfish use, what is meant for the nation. It is as a result of this that Nigeria couldn’t have been greater than where it is today even though it has every resources needed to rank it high in the comity of nations. Also worthy of note is the fact that this corruption has eaten into every sector of the society.

To this end, many people have advocated that corruption and similar conducts be punished with the death penalty in order to deter many others from engaging in same. While it is true that presently, corruption is been tolerated greatly by the kind of punishment corrupt Nigerians receive, the deterrent ability of death penalty is still probable. In China where corruption is not tolerated in any way, Chinese citizens have not stopped from embezzling government funds. The same thing applies to other conducts. Even robbery that is punishable with death in Nigeria, has not reduced because of the fear of death in the minds of Nigerians, but because the government has succeeded in using other strategies in curbing the act. We should not forget that even those allegedly fighting corruption in Nigeria are not immune from the vice. Thus, the tendency that only the poor and low class will eventually receive the death penalty for corruption is very high. Our judicial system is also fraught with imperfection and many irregularities; and unless that is been looked upon, there is every tendency that innocent Nigerians might be implicated and eventually executed for crimes they know nothing about.

The system in Nigeria needs a complete overhauling. Fortunately, one advantage that Buhari has is the fear that grips the hearts of guilty Nigerians at the mention of his name. Notwithstanding this, with the billions of Naira that allegedly got missing in the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF) under Buhari’s nose, Nigerians have proved to be sophisticated. Apart from being sophisticated, Nigerians can also be daring. Thus, many Nigerians have taken it upon themselves that whatever it takes for them to be richer by looting government funds; they will do that at the expense of their lives. That’s why any sentence of death would only give them the premonition to prepare themselves as sacrificial lambs as they loot public funds for the betterment and affluence of their families and dependants; and such cannot serve as a barrier to their long term ambition of getting richer when the opportunity presents itself.

The foregoing invariably tells us that other avenues of curbing corruption must be explored by the incoming government. My mother used to tell me that the sickness that enters the human body gradually, will definitely take time before it leaves the human body - effectual medication notwithstanding. In the light of that, I don’t expect Buhari to end corruption and impunity in Nigeria. My expectation of his government is to revive the fight against corruption which appears to have died, and intensify same. And even though he cannot end corruption, he can come up with other ways of making corruption absolutely unattractive to Nigerians. But as it stands, death penalty alone does not appear to be the panacea to corruption in Nigeria.

About the Author:
 Author Photo Bandawa writes from Abuja, Nigeria. You can follow on twitter @NBandawa

E-mail: ntayibandawa@gmail.com