2023: SDP Presidential Candidate Speaks on assets declaration
Some Nigerians are of the view that lack of willpower on the part of the regulatory agencies like the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), to sanction defaulters, is the major reason corruption in public offices has continued to thrive.
Others believe that subject public office holders to declare their assets properly in line with the guidelines of the regulatory body and constant monitoring to ensure compliance will reduce corruption to the barest minimum.
Recall that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), as well as other civil societies, have called on all presidential candidates contesting in the February 25, 2023 presidential election, to publish details of their assets and liabilities, and to publicly, commit to rejecting vote-buying and electoral bribery before and during the elections.
Prince A, Adewale Adebayo, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), has suggested that all presidential aspirants in the 2023 general elections should be compelled to declare their assets, as he is ready to do the same.
Adebayo, an international lawyer and businessman with interest in pharmaceutical, media, agriculture, green energy, made this call recently in Abuja, while challenging other aspirants to make public their assets, saying he will do the same as san soon as the campaigns begin.
He further urged Nigerian citizens to hold presidential candidates to full scrutiny by getting to know how they made their money, so that such individuals will not be hijacked by special interests.
He said, “If we are going to deal with transparency, a good presidential candidate must first disclose his assets for scrutiny, you don’t wait until you have won the election and people will be digging themselves out because it will be too late by that time.
“So, I see the issue of asset declaration as a challenge and I had that understanding with SERAP, which puts up the challenge to all the presidential candidates so that people can know who we are and how we got to where we are presently.”
The SDP flag bearer also advised that all aspirants must handle their campaigns without violating the electoral law and without taking money from any donors to ensure that the present struggles with special interest.
Speaking on how to stop stealing of public funds when elected as the president, Adebayo said, “It’s very easy, you have to run a lean campaign team, don’t waste money and don’t interest much money to your campaign so that is going to the Eagle Square on May 29, you don’t go as a debtor.
“You also have to be on the lookout for the people you will select to work with you by selecting those who may not necessarily be rich and not those who want to be rich in a broke government. Honest politicians worldwide don’t have money, but they have the love of people at heart. This is part of what I will do to curb stealing of public fund, because, once a thief is not able to be in any sensitive position in the government, it will be difficult for them to steal from outside. After all, the moment you allow the thieves to enter fundament, you are definitely saying ‘bye bye’ to peace and prosperity and that is what we need to put an end to the problem of stealing in government.”
He maintained that the reason things haven’t in Nigeria is that “we are not changing the politicians. We keep re-electing them and there is no way they will change because we refuse to change them.
“The claim by pols that there are no month tales, hence; where are they seeing money to run expensive campaigns. All the money made from projects that the government is running, whether on power or other things, are in the pockets of private people.
“We need three things and they include character,?competence and courage to say ‘no’ to friends and sponsors, to be able to run a successful government
“Failure of leadership can best be cured by changing bad rulers since the bad rulers won’t change and can’t change themselves. 2023 is time to vote out the bad politicians who theatrically lament over problems they caused, could fix but refused to fix.”
According to Adebayo, his concern about oil theft in the country, has recently been confirmed by a Nigerian Minister who corroborated his assertions.
He noted that recently, Chief of Naval staff, Vice Admiral Auwal Zubairu Gambo during an interview, revealed that the oil theft carried out in the Niger Delta, is actually done in the offices of NNPC and NLNG.
He added that the Steffen theft is being carried out by civil servants, stating that the unpatriotic nature of an average Nigerian is mind-bog research will need to be carried out on it.
Adebayo, however, urged Nigerians not to be fooled by the noise on the part of the government about debt servicing surpassing government revenue in Nigeria, saying it’s just scaremongering cover-up.
“What has surpassed revenue is not debt, stealing has surpassed disclosed revenue and siphoning has surpassed disclosed revenue.
On curbing corruption in public offices, an international civil and not-for-profit organisation, Egalitarian Mission for Africa, EMA, recently disclosed that its research has shown that a great number of government agencies in Nigeria do not observe the Code of Conduct Act guidelines as provided in law.
The group alleged that most defaulters of the act are political office holders, and the group has asked the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, to bring them to book.
This was disclosed by the organisation in its reaction to issues relating to violation of asset declaration act, alleging that many government workers as well as political office holders, including politicians seeking elections, have failed to declare their assets through the filthy ling of asset declaration form as required by law in accordance with the Code of Conduct Act.
The organisation said government workers, especially political office holders who tried to comply with the law, are also not sincere in completing assets form.
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Dr. Kayode Ajulo, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the organisation, in his reaction said the group would be working in partnership with the CCT to ensure that the law of declaration of assis is strictly adhered to in government organisations.
“The Code of Conduct Tribunal is a constitutional body established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and duly empowered to try public officials for breach of the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
“The tribunal is further empowered to impose any of the following punishments; vacation of office or seat in any Legislative house, as the case may be; disqualification from membership of a legislative house and from holding of any public office for a period not exceeding ten years; and seizure and forfeiture to the state of any property acquired in abuse or corruption of office.
“The CCT chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, is doing tremendous works and we are, in partnership with him, compiling the list of violators of this law and ready to publish it at the end of the process and will accordingly drag them before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) thereafter.” Ajulo said
The group said it is the collective responsibility of every citizen to collaborate with the agencies of government to ensure smooth operation for the greater good of the coun, try. It added that citizens are expected to cooperate with the guiding rules and regulations, which have been established to promote accountability for the betterment of the country and the people.
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“Declaration of assets at the CCB is no news to any public office holder. We all must play our parts in the development of this country. Nigeria will not develop with many violators of the law managing the affairs of government.
“Therefore, we are giving government workers, especially political office holders, who are yet to declare their assets to choose the path of integrity and do that within the withe window of opportunity of the next seven days after which, we will publish the list of defaulters and serve them the necessary letters to face the CCT.”
“It is right to say that any public office holder or politician seeking election who finds it hard to act in accordance with the rule of law cannot be a good representation of the people, and such a person does not deserve to be in government, a either by election or appointment,” the group added. been further argued that given the fact that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has less than a year in office, the CCT must act now, saying, “it will be a guide for potential public officer holders in the next administration.”