Some delegates at the ongoing national conference yesterday advocated death by hanging for corrupt officials to tackle the growing incidence of graft and large scale theft of public funds in the country.
A retired general in the Nigerian Army, Geoffery Ejiga, lamented that the country was deteriorating and urged his colleagues to rise up and salvage the situation.
He said that at the 2005 National Political Reform Conference, he had suggested capital punishment for corrupt officials or politicians but his views were unpopular as he was said to be speaking as a military man.
Ejiga said China had continued to make more progress because it viewed the menace of corruption seriously.
“If they can hang corrupt people in China, then we must hang them here too. I can testify that things are fast deteriorating in this country. We must discuss those issues so that we can pull back our country from the brink of collapse,” he said.
A youth leader, Ben Duntoye, lamented that while corrupt officials continue to steal with impunity, the society was conferring chieftaincy titles on them.
He called for a redistribution of wealth, saying the money stolen by some government officials was enough to empower the youths.
“A man steals N20bn and he keeps walking the streets freely. Think of what that money would do for our youth if we were to empower some of them.
“Capital punishment is key to fighting corruption in Nigeria. If a man steals N20bn, what else do you need to do? Such people should be hanged! Government must also cut down on wastes and its excesses,” he said.
The youth leader also condemned the Federal Government for making provision for only 18 youths out of the 492 delegates to the conference.
He said although the exercise was about the youth and the future of the country, many of the delegates could not be regarded as youths.
Former governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, also blamed the elite for being responsible for the problems confronting the nation.
He wondered why political appointees should earn more than people in the academia, saying the elite always make laws to serve their selfish cravings.
“The problem of Nigeria is mostly caused by the elite who make laws to suit their whims. This is a conspiracy of the elite. We are not yet sincere with ourselves,” he said.
Meanwhile, minority tribes in the North have advocated the creation of a separate geo-political zone for them, saying they have become victims of constant suppression and discrimination by the North as presently constituted.
A delegate representing minorities in the North- East, Dr. Sale Dauda, said this while commenting on President Goodluck Jonathan’s inaugural speech at the conference.
He said the whole of the North-East was in turmoil, stressing that rather than heaping the blame on the President, leaders of the zone should look inwards and challenge their consciences.
“This failure of governance is not at the federal level. Sometimes, people get the impression that the situation is due to the failure of Mr. President. It is not true. Now, over a million people have been displaced,” he said.
Dauda suggested a Marshall plan to tackle the growing wave of violence in the region.
He said part of the solution to the crisis was to create a separate geo-political zone for all minorities in the North.
The delegate called for the creation of a state for Southern Borno natives to “free them from the northern part which is now plagued by selfinflicted crisis”.
Dauda also told the conference that the North had become increasingly intolerant of Christians, saying it was literally easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to get a land to build a church.
“As a Christian in northern Nigeria, we are discriminated against. In many states, you cannot have a place to build a church. Many Christians in the region now go underground to be able to worship.
“We are discriminated against even in the area of employment and those who are responsible for these are people who are well aware of the heterogeneity of the area and the country as a whole,” he said.
The delegate also faulted the relocation of local government headquarters in Christian dominated councils to areas where he said there were few Muslims. Pointing at Tafawa Balewa Local Government Council in Bauchi State as an example, Dauda also lamented the imposition of emirs on Christian chiefdoms, saying the development had heightened ethno-religious tension in the zone.