Poland is facing a potential national purge. Basically, people who aided and abetted the communist-era secret police could be prevented from public service. This is an acknowledgement of the evils of the communist regimes, and the culpability of those who helped sustain the regime. The measures being undertaken will by no means be fair, but it does two things: it looks at its past, and lets people who made the lives of their fellow citizens miserable know that their actions have not been forgotten.
Nigeria needs a similar purge. When General Abubakar constructed the constitution of 1999, and initiated the birth of political parties for Nigeria's nascent democracy, my heart gladdened. But when I saw the people who were running, my heart sunk. Take the 2003 presidential elections. The three frontrunners had all been disastrous military dictators. Ojukwu had led a secession then bailed at the eleventh hour, leaving Philip Effiong to stew in the juices he had left behind. Obasanjo gave us a toothless and corrupt civilian government in Shagari, not forgetting his soldiers tossing Fela's mother from the second floor of a building in Kalakuta Republic. And of course Buhari, the man who thought that flogging civil servants in public was a good way to instil discipline in Nigerians (check out this ridiculous toe curling panegyric).
In 2007, people who claim to have grey matter between their ears are actively considering voting for Babangida. Babangida has never explained why he annuled the June 12 elections, thrusting Nigeria into five years of a dark marriage with Abacha, spawn of the devil. Why oh why? In any civilised democracy, such people would be too ashamed to run for public office. But in Nigeria, they even get elected. A solution would be to bar these people from running for office. Anyone who has held office in a previous Nigerian government should be barred from being given a second chance at pillaging the country.
This is obviously unworkable, as there would have been some good eggs in past corrupt governments. But these sham governments were ipso facto corrupt, and anyone who served in them, is tainted by association. With these vetting criteria, many talented people would left out. But there are many talented people amongst the multitude that is the Nigerian population, we would barely notice the loss in personnel.
The Guardian has taken a typically leftist view, defending Communism past, and flagging possible McCarthyite witch-hunts. If only they understood how it feels to have the people who violated one's rights in the past, purport to suddenly be the guardians of those same rights. It is undemocratic to bar someone from running for public office, especially when they haven't been convicted of a crime which bars them automatically. However, if we're not smart enough to stop them running, we should be smart enough not to vote them in...