Memo To Doyin Okupe: What Is President Jonathan Hiding? (1)

Chido onumah
Columnist: 
Chido Onumah

I refer to your press conference of Thursday, December 6, 2012, in which you tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to do a cleanup of President Jonathan’s anti-corruption credentials. You would agree that your presentation was all fury and little substance. I know as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, your responsibility is

to make the president look good in public. In your press conference, you listed a number of things that the government has done (and is doing) to show that President Jonathan is serious about fighting corruption. 

To save space, I shall focus only on one. In a sense, the issue I have chosen for discussion appears to be the most important. Not only because it was the first in the list of accomplishments you enumerated in your speech, but because it is pivotal and at the heart of whether the president has the “political will” to fight corruption and whether we should believe him or not when he claims he is fighting corruption. I am talking here about the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA).

 
This is what you said about the FoIA: “The signing of the Freedom of Information Act into law by President Jonathan in May 2011 represents a watershed in the anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria.  This piece of legislation, which had been virtually stalled by successive administrations since 1999, was signed into law by Mr. President to usher Nigeria into the league of countries where transparency (emphasis mine) in governance is entrenched and citizens are granted unfettered access to information (emphasis mine) about government activities.

“This is the fulcrum upon which good governance rests in all known democracies and it is noteworthy that the present administration took the bull by the horns to lay this very important foundation for the war against corruption in Nigeria in the early months of its inception and 24 hours after the bill was presented to him by the National Assembly. You will agree with me that without a legal framework for whistle–blowing, the fight against corruption would be meaningless.”

Well said. I couldn’t agree with you more on the importance of the FoIA. Yes, it is to the credit of the government that the very first law the president signed was the FoIA. The problem, however, is that the law has been observed more in breach. And we can thank the president for his shining example. Perhaps, as a latecomer to the jamboree that is the Jonathan administration, you are not privy to certain things. Or is it a case of selective amnesia? The blustering presidential aide that you are, perhaps your impulsiveness got the better of you.

Whatever the problem, it is important that we set the record straight for posterity. Warily, to test the FoIA and the president’s sincerity, on July 28, 2011, almost two months to the day the president signed the FoI bill into law, the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) sent a Freedom of Information request to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) asking “to be allowed to inspect and obtain copies of the 2007 asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; the asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan after the end of his tenure on May 28, 2011; and the current asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan when he assumed office on May 29, 2011”.

AFRICMIL made the request in good faith and in accordance with Paragraph 3, Part I of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, which provides that “the Code of Conduct Bureau shall have power to: (a) receive declarations by public officers made under Paragraph 12 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Constitution; (b) examine the declarations in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct or any law; (c) retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe (emphasis added)”.

Paragraph 11 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution provides that: “(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter -- (a) at the end of every four years; and (b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years”.

Pursuant to the aforementioned constitutional provisions and Section 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, which states that “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, Law or Regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution howsoever described, is hereby established”, AFRICMIL made the request to the CCB to be allowed to inspect and obtain copies of President Goodluck Jonathan’s asset declaration.

Regrettably, the CCB did not dignify the request with a response. After waiting patiently for almost three months and in line with the provisions of the FoIA, AFRICMIL filed a case at the Federal High Court, Abuja. In the suit (No FHC/ABJ/CS/877/2011) filed on October 21, 2011, on behalf of AFRICMIL by Ashimole Felix of Che Oyintumba & Associates, AFRICMIL sought an order of mandamus compelling the CCB to comply with its (AFRICMIL’s) request of making available to the public the asset declaration of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr. Lewis Asubiojo, who represented AFRICMIL in the suit, said “the organisation was concerned that even with the memo from the presidency that government agencies should subject themselves to the Freedom of Information Act, the CCB refused to act on its request”. He noted that “for a government that has proclaimed a transformation agenda and wants to fight corruption, it is important that President Jonathan leads by example, and one way he can do that is to make public his asset declaration”.

Since AFRICMIL’s request over a year ago, we have gone from the ominous silence of the CCB, to Reuben Abati, the president’s Special Adviser on Media, coldly confirming that “the president will not declare his assets on the pages of newspapers”, to the president himself conceitedly stating publicly that he did not “give a damn” about making his asset declaration public. The assumption, of course, is that the declaration is with the CCB and was made as and when due.  

In a June 2012 interview with SaharaTV’s Rudolf Okonkwo, to mark Democracy Day, Abati had referred Nigerians interested in the president’s asset declaration “to check with the Code of Conduct Bureau office”. Regrettably, it is the same CCB that has “gone rogue” on the president’s asset declaration. It is instructive to note that Sam Saba, chairman of the CCB, recently declared that the FOIA conflicts with the Constitution on the issue of making available to the public the president’s asset declaration. He called for “judicial intervention to know what the law says”.

President Jonathan says he is transformative leader. Unless he just wants to transform himself, I see no reason he should allow his asset declaration create so much uproar and overheat the polity unnecessarily.  

To be continued.

conumah@hotmail.com

Comments
15 comment(s)
Post a comment

Re: Okupe and His Emplpyers

Can Anyone Close to Boko Haram, as them to blow up Doyin Okupe and save us the trauma of his vomitious talks!!!

some kain people dey this Naija

@Festus Toju..lover of the Niger Delta..why not allow the Niger Deltans reason for themselves? If Igbos are land-locked, is it your problem or theirs? Instead of using your energy to fight the wickedness of Nigerian rulers, you are here fabricating stories.. you think the Igbo man is your problem?...stay there na..btw..who killed Isaac Boro? Might also interest you to know that Isaac Boro was an SUG president at UNN.

Even if....

Mr Deri, even of you haven't gone to school, what has happened to your brain? Did you read this rubbish before posting it?

Igbo be aware

Keep fooling yourself, I know the Igbos are imagining that one day Nigeria will break, they will have opportunity to overrun Ijawland, Efikland , Ibiobioland, Ogoniland and calabarilan then appropriate the oil fields to themselves. Igbos be aware that Nigeria of 1950s when Igbos under the leadership of Azikwe as premier of eastern Nigeria brutally dominated and oppressed these ethnic groups and in 1966 when Aguyi Ironsi a stupid and idiotic Igbo army general as head of state arrested Adaka Boro and other delta boys and sentence them to dead for treason because they declare republic of delta until released from prison by Gowon, those times are over. If Nigeria breaks today, delta will form their own country. Igboland will be landlock no access to the sea, and will have to obtain visa to enter Port Harcourt and Lagos. This is the really better know it now and stop deceiving yourselves. There is nothing like republic of se&ss you igbo thieves. Ole omo ibo

Y is it dat majority of d ss

Y is it dat majority of d ss ppl r always envying buhari? Weneva gej is being paintd out black as he is deep in his heart d next tin d ss do is insult buhari. Is it only buhari dat is d cause ppl insult gej? If u guys wil spend 500yrs u can never bring a single negativ act dat buhari comited.O i get it its because God has blesd him wit d lurv of ppl.

Okupe/FOI: Onumah's Disgracefull Cherry picking

Chidi, issue with us is we like looking at the cup half empty. It is uncharritable to say all he said was flurry and no substance. Ofcourse i have a problem with the reluctance to tell us what the President's assets look like, but it is morally wrong to ignore all Okupe pointed out as regards progress in the fight against corruption. The media should stop this kind of stuff. You are supposed to inform and educate, not cause anarchy. yes you just informed us about the back and forth over assest decalration request and FOI, but you deprived some of us the other details of Okupe's speech. why. it is disgraceful to say the least. you dont have to kick the president at every twist and turn, deprive us of information, just because u hate him

UNFIT TO LEAD

Simply put, the man GEJ is unfit to take us, or any other people forward. He's got so much to hide, therefore cannot lead by example.

Worst President in living Memory

@DERI , all i have to say to you is that you a the BIGGEST MORON on the PLANET !! FACT !!!
This GEJ that you are praising because he is IJAW or from Naija Delta will DESTROY Nigeria before 2015 . FOIA or not he should be man enought to show his ppl his assets doing this can only create trust for him from the people. I am a NIGERIAN from Delta state and i have come to a conclusion that it doesnt matter where you are from so far you are the best man for the job MUSLIM/CHRISTIAN NORTH OR SOUTH it doesnt matter where you are from so far you are a Nigerian and will do a good job .

@DERI , ppl like you want to destroy NIGERIA with your stupid " IJAW , OUR SON /BROTHER NONSENSE , GEJ has shown he has no clue on how to b a RULER (never will i call any NIGERIAN POLITICIAN LEADER)tell you the truth if RIDABU said he wants to be PRESIDENT for 2015 i will back him to be the best RULER if he wins the seat and i pray to GOD HE DOES.

@Deri

May God purnish you, those who brought you into this world and those you are currently serving. We already have enough nuisance from your moronic GEj and his team in Nigeria. Since you lack the mental capacity to reason like most people on this platform, I urge you to create an alternate blog where you can exhibit your foolishness to the best of your ability.

i do think that Prof. Okojie

i do think that Prof. Okojie and his NUC should not pretend to be deaf and dumb on this. It would be a true test of what the NUC under Prof Okojie can do to sustain high educational standards in our universities. We are watching, sir

Deri get a life!

Deri, you are correct. There is no law that says the president should declare his asset at Tinubu Square. But there is a law, one the president himself signed, that allows any Nigerian interested to make a request to the custodian of asset declarations, the Code of Conduct Bureau, and get the information they want. We know Jonah was forced to declare his asset in 2007. So what is he hiding? Unless, you are telling us he has taken his cut of the 55 trillion naira oyele money. In which case, it is understandable if he feels no moral qualms to declare his assets publicly!

tribal madness

It is rather pathetic that the Niger- Delta comunity seem to be seeking sympathy all the time over nothing.
These lazy ones who are fortunate to have oil on their lands have completely missed the points all the time.
Sympathy seeking isn't the case here.let him declare his assets if he has nothing to hide.GEJ's last 4 year tenure has been described as unfortunate,so regardless of whether he declares his assets he's still in the mess,but he still should declare.The Niger-Deltans have over the years moaned that they had been maginalised regardless of what they contributed to the wealth of Nigeria,ok now that they are in Aso Rock,what do they have to contribute apart from sympathy seeking.
So guy forget all this and let GEJ declare his assets.

Deri is dumbo himself

Guys, I have a hunch that deri is jonathan himself. Just check it out. Deri can't be no one else than dumbo. The only way to silence him is to sack him from aso rock come 2015. By the way, where is 'umblerra'? It is unthinkable that 'umblerra' would be in this country without throwing one grammatical 'bomb' in nearly two months she returned from 'holidays' in Germany. Deri should throw more light on this FoI request.

ASSET DECLARATION:PIKIN WEY SAY IM MAMA NO GO SLEEP....

As long as elected politicians including the President hide away their asset worth from the electorate and entire citizenry,their will be no basis for the Nigerian Nation to trust them.
Nigeria has just been rated the second most corrupt nation on earth so like Mr Onuma rightly asked,what are they hiding?Nigeria is supposed to be practising democracy but our leaders dwell in totalitarian cultures where they rule over us without allowing us the right to know anything about the people who run the affairs of our country.
There are no half measures about transparency in governance,a government cannot be claiming what it apparently is not.Nigerians will never stop asking their democratic rights from this dodgy regime.

which law states dat jonah should declare his assets in public

Buhari pikin show us the law which says jonah must declare his assets at the United Nations office in New York or the eagle square in abuja every one hour? If Yara Adua made a public show of his we did not see mr clean chief buhari announce his at tinubu square after he sacked shagari-its only a fool who has problem thinking straight that would ask the president to declare his asset b4 the senate president or tambuwal-when there is no law that says so. Yes we know those who paid 5 naira as tax in nigeria-but not jonah whose 55 trillion naira has been keeping 9ja afloat for the past 52 yrs-none has been able to ask buhari to tell us how he spent our oil wind fall-from the SS while hired as minister of oil-or how he handled the oil money in PTF-But ijaw man jonah like david west, must vomit their abstract oil money to those from the oil- less zones of the country-cause of his shoeless legs-or low status-of birth in d 9ja delta- animal

Post a comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Comments are limited to a maximum of 1000 characters.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <p> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.