As someone who has invested my time, hope and emotion in a Buhari since he first ran for the Presidency back in 2003, I must say I was highly disappointed to hear yesterday’s news that the President and his deputy have declared their assets as required by law. That is a secret filing with the Code of conduct Bureau. This is good and fine but it is not what candidate Muhammadu Buhari promised Nigerian voters during the campaign.
During the campaign the then candidate Buhari promised to publicly declare his assets, ask his Vice-president and ministers to do the same. Nigerian voters understood the same. To put it in context as to where this belief came from, it should be understood that the secret declaration of assets by public officials is nothing new, it is the public declaration that is or will be new with the exception of late President Yar Adua. The secret declaration of assets has failed to help curb corruption hence the relief Nigerians felt when Buhari promised to publicly declare his assets. Buhari made this promise to Nigerians and he must keep it with all due respect. It is too early in the day to be breaking promises and giving ammunition to those who are looking for every opportunity to go after him. The President must, with due respect, explain to Nigerians why he has broken this promise and if he is going to break more promises.
I had hoped that with the promise to publicly declare his assets and ask his ministers to do the same some corrupt members of the APC will not make it to Buhari’s list of ministers as they will not dare to declare their assets publicly. With the sort of secret declaration that the President and Vice-president did yesterday, how are they different from what Goodluck Jonathan did? How would Nigerians be able to tell if the President has been forthright in his assets declaration? The generality of Nigerians believe that the President is not rich and does not have anything to hide. Is the President telling Nigerians they are wrong in their belief? This is a poor decision I must say for a man who has nothing to hide.
The President must act quickly, I mean very quickly to make his asset declaration public or be prepared to live with the consequences of a severe damage to his reputation for honesty and forthrightness. He should not hide his assets declaration to protect his billionaire potential ministers who will not want to publicly declare their corruptly acquired assets. The President’s first action in office cannot be a betrayal of a promise to the Nigerian people. I believe too much in a Buhari Presidency to feel comfortable with this none public declaration of assets. Before including the corrupt on your ministerial list, Mr. President please make your asset declaration public and insist that your Vice-president and ministers do the same. Nigerians voted for transparency in government, not secrecy. If we wanted more secrecy and abracadabra we would have re-elected GEJ. I call on all well-meaning Nigerians to join this call for public declaration of assets by the new President and his vice-president before Buhari comes up with a ministerial list containing the list of corrupt APC billionaires as it will be more difficult to get the President to backtrack.