President Muhammadu Buhari has ignored the recommendation of his transition committee to publicly declare his assets immediately after assuming office, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report today.
As part of quick wins for the administration, the Ahmed Joda-led committee recommended that the President should immediately after assumption of office declare his assets publicly.
It also recommended prompt prosecution of pending cases and the publication of the audited financial statements of the Federal Government.
Other recommendations include the recovery of stolen funds, review and reforms in government waivers and tax exemptions as well as non-conviction based forfeiture by legislations.
But more than a month after he was sworn in, Mr. Buhari has not made his assets and so is his Vice, Yemi Osinbajo.
The President’s refusal to disclose the report of his asset declaration is a clear negation of the promise of his party, the All Progressives Congress, that unlike former President Goodluck Jonathan, their presidential candidate, Mr. Buhari would publish his assets if elected into office.
While campaigning across the country, the APC had assured Nigerians that Mr. Buhari would publicly declare his assets and liabilities immediately after assumption of office.
“General Muhammadu Buhari believes sincerely that no matter how vast our resources, if they are not efficiently utilized, they will only benefit a privileged few, leaving the majority in abject poverty. This he wants to avoid by all lawful means,” a member of the party’s presidential campaign council, Osita Okechukwu, had said during a pro-Buhari road show in Enugu.
“To achieve this he publicly will declare his assets and liabilities and encourage his political appointees to follow suit immediately he is sworn-in.”
Two days after he was sworn in as president and Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, urged him and Mr. Osinbajo to promptly make public the details of their declared assets.
The group said the public declaration of their assets would be consistent with Messrs Buhari and Osinbajo’s anti-corruption credentials and their promises to the electorate.
The request was made immediately after the two leaders declared their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau as required by the Constitution.
“We welcome the official declaration of assets by the president and the vice-president. This clearly complies with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution as contained in Chapter 6 Section 140,” the group stated.
“However, the declaration before the Code of Conduct alone falls far short of the commitment to publicly declare their assets.
“SERAP recalls that the president said before the election that he would publicly declare his assets and liabilities, and encourage all his appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment.
“We now expect the president to fulfill this promise to the Nigerian people.
“We trust that the president and vice-president will move swiftly to publicly declare their assets and to publish widely the information on a dedicated website.’’
Reacting to the request and others made by Nigerians from all walks of life, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, on June 6, assured that Mr. Buhari would make the report of his asset declaration public.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has said that in fulfillment of one of their campaign promises, his declared assets and those of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will be released to the public upon the completion of their verification by the Code of Conduct Bureau,” Mr. Shehu said.
“It is hoped that this process will be completed before the expiry of the 100-day deadline within which they said they would do this.”
He noted that the duly completed forms by both the President and the Vice President were submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau on March 28th, a day before their inauguration.
Mr. Shehu said his press statement on the matter became necessary to clarify some insinuations that the President and the Vice-President may not, after all, declare their assets publicly.
“While such public display of concern is appreciated and valued, it must be said that it is a little precipitate.
“As required by law, the declaration and submission of documents to the CCB have been made, but there still remains the aspect of verification which the Bureau will have to conduct to authenticate the submissions made to it.
“In the circumstances, it is only after this verification exercise, and not before, that the declaration can be said to have been made and validated; and only after this, will the details be released to the public.
“There is no question at all that the President and the Vice President are committed to public declaration of their assets within the 100 days that they pledged during the presidential campaign.”
But Mr. Buhari’s transition committee believed it was more ideal for the president to publicly declare his asset immediately he assumed office, an advice Mr. Buhari spurned.