There is no doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to be in the news for as long as he makes his assets secret and does not immediately crush Boko Haram, which his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, hinged its campaign strength on. How has Buhari fared lately writes our correspondents, BASHIR BELLO, Kaduna and ANASTACIA ELUWA, Asaba.
Former Governor of old Kaduna State, Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa has said that President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo not declaring their assets publicly, as promised, is a minus. This was as he said that in politics, it is not ideal to make promises and fail to fulfill them.
Speaking in a chat with the Nigerian Pilot Sunday, in Kaduna, Balarabe Musa said if one makes promises you have to fulfill it.
According to Balarabe Musa, “the constitution requires that they declare their assets once they are sworn-in. They have complied with the requirement of the constitution. There is only one problem which is the promise they made, to make the declaration public. That has not been fulfilled and that is a minus, because in politics if you make a promise, you have to fulfill the promise.
“But again, that is not a problem we are talking of aspiring democracy in the country. We have no democracy, but the country has aspirations. And democracy has provided what to do under a circumstance.
“Under the circumstance that the asset declaration was not made public as promised and politically expected, what should be done is for either code of conduct to reveal the content of the asset declaration if the law does not stop them from doing that.
“Now, if the code of conduct does not reveal the content of the asset declaration, the public can use the power under the freedom of information law to request.
“Anybody can go to the Code of Conduct Bureau to request for the copy of the declaration and if the bureau refuses to do so, you can go to court so they have complied with the constitutional requirement. But if you want them to do more than that we should make a sacrifices of making a step to go to court.
On the promises Buhari made, the former governor said, “Well the President made promises in his inauguration speech. Now we want the promises to be concretised. We should by now and after three weeks begin to see him concretise the promises,” he said.
On his assessment of President Buhari’s first three weeks in office and his handling of the Boko Haram insurgents he said, “On his promise on Boko Haram, he has started taking concrete action. He has travelled to Niger Republic and Chad and other neighbouring countries.
“He met with the leaders to cooperate and work together to end Boko Haram insurgency. And this is one of the concrete action that we expect. So we have seen his concrete effort as promised to deal with Boko Haram.”
Also speaking on the President’s style of governance and other topical issues, Northern Elders Council, NEC, Chairman, Tanko Yakasai and the former Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Anthony Sani, are of the view that Nigerians should be patient and wait to see what the Code of Conduct Bureau would do after verifying the forms submitted by the duo of President Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Osibanjo .
The two northern elders maintained that the issue is before the Code of Conduct Bureau and should wait for the outcome of their verification.
According to Anthony Sani, “I heard the Code of Conduct Bureau would need about 3 to 4 weeks to verify the claims in the forms before it can be made public and that was why President Yar’Adua made his declaration public later by end of June 2007. So let Nigerians wait and see. I am not sure President Buhari has anything to hide, considering all he has is integrity.
“I guess the President will make the content public. As I said earlier, he has a lot to gain by delivering on his promises because honesty and integrity are all he has and which have given him the mandate to preside over Nigeria,” Sani said.
But a resident in Kaduna scored him high in the state, especially about the statement in his inaugural speech where he said; “I belong to Everybody and I belong to Nobody”. He commended him for directive to move military command headquarters to Borno State but expressed dismay with the way the duo declared their assets.
According to Fola Ojo, “During the electioneering, Buhari had promised that he alongside his deputy would declare their assets publicly. But when the declaration came in a one-line press statement, I was unhappy. That was not what many of us had expected.
“The Code of Conduct Bureau tried to cool down the heat a bit when it said that even though the constitution makes it clear that the agency should make available to the citizens the assets declared by public officials, the same law vested the National Assembly with the power to decide the terms and conditions for making such materials public. I trust Buhari and Osinbajo that they have nothing to hide now, or trying to shield some information in the future.
“The President and the deputy should go one step further by making their assets truly public; and it will only reinforce a lifestyle of transparency for which Buhari is known. This should also qualify as a sign of good things to come, but the signs are too fuzzy and hazy. In this area, I score the Presidency just an ordinary pass. Buhari and Osinbajo will lose nothing by letting all his assets hang out for all to see,” Ojo said.
Similarly, in a chat with this paper, a former Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Stella Omu described President Mohammadu Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Osibanjo’ s declaration of asset at the Code of Conduct Bureau as being in the right order.
Senator Stella Omu said in Asaba, “the contents are there at the appropriate organisation and anyone who wants it should go there.”
Omu, who is also a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Board of Trustees, BoT, averred that Nigerians should not expect them to declare their assets in the market place or a market square.
According to her, They have submitted their assets and it was announced everywhere that Buhari and Osibanjo have submitted their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau, except people are expecting them to go to the market place to do it. So I do not expect that they will
carry it to the market place or to the village square, to say, these are my assets.
On his part, the Chairman National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, Delta state Chapter, Comrade Hope George, opined that President Buhari not declaring his asset publicly was not a surprise as he is not a loud type of man.
Comrade George added, “President Buhari is one person that does not believe in showing himself up. A lot of us in Nigeria know the man Buhari, so he is not somebody that acquires wealth a lot, he is one Nigeria that, as at today, he does not have a private house in Abuja and for that reason, I think he is a man of integrity. For him to declare his asset privately, I want to believe is his personal reason and I am also sure that as soon as possible, as he has promised, he will make it public.”
NYCN boss who urged Nigerians, especially the youths to have confidence in the administration of Muhammadu Buhari and Osibanjo emphasised, “We know him as somebody that is not full of words, so I don’t think he has anything hidden that he is hiding. So let Nigerians have that confidence in him, let us see him as one man who will stick to his words and ensure transparency. Let us give him a little time for him to settle down and understand what to do for Nigeria.”
But speaking generally a Constitutional Lawyer and Executive Director Human Rights Monitor, Festus Okoye Esq, said President and Vice President have satisfied the constitutional and legal requirement relating to assets declaration.
According to him, “they no longer suffer any constitutional or legal disability relating to same.
“However, the Nigerian people voted for change and part of the package is transparency and accountably and a departure from the way things are done. There is nothing constitutionally and legally wrong with the President and Vice President declaring their assets publicly.
“Morally and ethically, public declaration of assets accords with the mood of the times and we expect the President and the Vice President to declare their assets publicity.
“On Fighting Corruption: The resolve of the President to fight corruption has nothing to do with assets declaration. The President has declared his assets as required by the law and the constitution. The missing link in the assets declaration is that the President promised to be open and transparent with Nigerians, who expect him to stand by his words. The issue is ethical and moral and not legal or constitutional. But I believe that the President will fight corruption and abuse of office within the ambit of the law and the constitution.
On articulating the APC Manifesto, Okoye said, “The APC has its constitution and manifesto. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) makes it mandatory for each Political Party to file its constitution and manifesto with the Independent National Electoral Commission.
It is also a constitutional imperative for all Political Party to adopt and subscribe to Chapter 11 of the Constitution relating to Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. What the party is cleaning up is its practical road map of actualising the intendment of its manifesto and the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Nigerians are in a hurry and want change as quickly as possible. I expect the regime to move a little faster. The Nigerian people need to be assured that change is upon us.
“On Boko Haram, the insurgency has done so much damage to the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thousands of Nigerians have been internally displaced. Thousands of Nigerians are refugees in Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Thousands of Nigerians have died on account of insurgency. Properties worth billions of Naira have been lost or destroyed. Families and communities have been rendered homeless.
“The Nigerian people expect a change of strategy and tactics in the fight against insurgency. The President is taking the lead in this by directing the Command Centre of the fight to move to Borno State. He has also visited Chad and Niger in furtherance of a coordinated approach to the fight and a new Commander for the Multinational Joint Task Force has been appointed. I am sure that the color of the fight will change and the insurgents will be routed,” Barrister Okoye however stated.


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