The news broke today that the President Buhari, and his Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, have BOTH declared their assets by submitting their Asset Declaration forms, under oath, to the Code of Conduct Bureau, as required by Law. While this is definitely a positive development, we at Change Vigilantes believe that the mode of declaration falls SHORT of what President Buhari promised us during the campaign.
We all remember, and we have his campaign videos and written papers to prove it, President Buhari PROMISED many times during the campaign trail that ‘he will PUBLICLY declare assets and liabilities and encourage all political appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a precondition for appointment.’ For the regular Nigerian, what that meant was that he will go beyond the normal technical requirements of the law and declare his assets for ALL NIGERIANS TO SEE.
Now we are being told that by submitting the forms under oath to the code of conduct bureau on the 28th of May, they have fulfilled their election promise. While this exercise may have fulfilled the letter of the law, this is most unacceptable to us when compared to both his spoken and body language tduring his campaign for hte Presidency.
As the public uproar started gathering momentum online, some supporters of the less-than-adequate declaration are now claiming that by any member of the public interested in the content of the declarations is free to apply to the Code of Conduct Bureau for copies of the said documents. They further argued that there is no further duty on the part of the President and his Vice president to make the declaration ‘public’ since the documents are deemed public by operation of Law.
To all this I say FOUL! For us to have real change that we can believe in, we must go beyond the TECHNICAL requirement of the law. Buhari led us to believe he would go beyond where Jonathan stopped and start the fight against corruption by PUBLICLY declaring his assets.
President Buhari promised us to PUBLICLY DECLARE HIS ASSETS as a way of separating himself from the attitude of the previous administration. After all, despite the much quoted blunder of President Jonathan that he did not give a damn about asset declaration, the truth of the matter is that Jonathan Goodluck did in fact declare his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau as required by law. He just did not make it PUBLIC FOR THE PUBLIC TO SEE. That was the bone of contention that Buhari himself admitted was not good enough and he then promised to make his OWN asset declarations public as part of his fight against corruption.
Therefore, for him or anyone to now argue that merely filing the asset declarations with the Code of Conduct Bureau is a fulfilment of that promise is UNTENABLE. Like I mentioned in several of my T.V Appearances, what is the point of a ‘public declaration of assets’ that ONLY the Bureau of Coode of Conduct Bureau can see? That is NOT the spirit of transparency and that certainly was NOT the understanding of most Nigerians when we listened to Buhari on this matter on the campaign trail.
This matter of making the asset declaration PUBLIC beyond the legalistic ‘public’ declaration with the Code of Conduct Bureau may appear to be a small matter to some, but it is critical to Nigerians assessing President Buhari in his first few days in office. Nigerians voted for him because they believe he is a man of honor, and a man who would keep his words without hiding under any technical jargos. If he did not keep his words in the spirit in which he gave it and to the clear understanding of Nigerians on a matter of asset declaration, how can we believe he would keep his words on other weightier matters? If the new president wants to continue to maintain our trust, he would declare his assets PUBLICLY IN A WAY THAT IS REALLY PUBLIC FOR THE REGULAR GUY ON THE STREET and not give us a TECHNICAL public declaration.
We at CHANGE VIGILANTES are die-hard Buharists and have kept a COMPLETE RECORD of the promises of Buhari during the campaign trail on our website www.changevigilantes.com, and PUBLICLY declaring his assets was listed as the 1st promise under the fight against corruption. We definitely will not let him get away without fulfilling this promise without a fight. While I remain a very strong supporter of GMB and a beleive that he is the catalyst for the begninigs of serious solutions to Nigeria’s problems, I will nevertheless will start a campaign to compel both the President and his Vice president to do the right thing and make this declarations public. It is simply the right thing to do.
At CHANGE VIGILANTES ORGANIZATION, We are hardcore supporters of President Buhari and believed him when he made the promise and we therefore EXPECT him to start his fight against corruption on the right note by first publicly [ as in ‘open to the public’], declaring his assets and then insisting that all ministers must do it the same way. That is when we can believe that indeed change has come to Nigeria.
We are simply tired of being told one thing during elections, and when it comes to action time, being given a technical explanation.
The option of going to apply for a copy from the Code of Conduct Bureau is definitely not acceptable to us at Change Vigilantes. THAT IS NOT THE SPIRIT OF CHANGE WE WERE PROMISED. In any case, we all know that the records of the Code of Conduct Bureau are NOT really public for everyone to see. Even when you apply for copies, we all know they may not give it to us, and may take years dancing around the application.
WE THEREFORE JOIN MANY OTHER NIGERIANS TO INSIST THAT PRESIDENT BUHAIR MUST PUBLICLY DECLARE HIS ASSETS AS OPPOSED TO SIMPLY SUBMITTING IT UNDER OATH TO THE CODE OF CONDUCT BUREAU.
CHANGE STARTS NOW AND IT STARTS WITH VERY OPEN ASSET DECLARATION!