Following the release of the assets of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, by the presidential media team, there is fresh controversy over the true net worth of the Nigerian leader.
Last Thursday, the Presidency bowed to public pressure and issued a press statement detailing the assets of President Buhari and Prof. Osibanjo, the statement was silent on the net worth of the President.
The statement signed by Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu said that the President has about N30 million in a single bank account with Union Bank Plc.
Shehu’s statement said the President has shares in Berger Paints, Skye Bank and Union Bank and a total of seven houses, comprising inherited two mud houses, and a standard house in Daura, his hometown; two homes in Kaduna, one in Kano and one in Abuja.
Also belonging to the President are two undeveloped plots of land in Kano and Port Harcourt.
Buhari also said he has an orchard and a ranch in Daura with 270 heads of cattle, 25 sheep, five horses, a variety of birds and a number of economic trees in them.
According to the statement, “He borrowed money from the old Barclays Bank to build two of his homes,” and the retired Army General uses a number of cars, two of which he bought from his savings and the others supplied to him by the federal government in his capacity as former Head of State.
“The rest were donated to him by well-wishers after his jeep was damaged in a Boko Haram bomb attack on his convoy in July 2014,” the Presidency added.
Since the Presidency declared the assets of President Buhari, many have raised eyebrows over the perceived inconsistencies in the declared assets against the previous information, which were availed Nigerians on the wealth of the President before the 2015 election.
Many have argued that the contents of the assets declaration rather than assuage doubt, have raised many questions in view of the President’s earlier public claim of austere life.
For instance, prior to the declaration there was a general belief that President Buhari did not own any house in Abuja.
Three years ago, Buhari was reported to have been ejected from his Abuja residence following his inability to pay the N20 million rent demanded by his landlord and was forced to relocate to Kaduna.
According to the reports, owing to the inability of Buhari to raise the N20 million earlier requested as rent for the building at Number 11 Queen Elizabeth Street, Asokoro District, Abuja, the landlord reportedly reduced the rent to N15 million but Buhari could still not raise the funds.
Reports say the original rent was paid on his behalf by a former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma, (rtd).
Buhari was said to have rebuffed suggestions by his friends to approach Nasarawa State governor, Alhaji Umaru Al-Makura, who won the governorship seat on the platform of his defunct party, CPC, for financial assistance, insisting that he would rather maintain his integrity than ask the governor for money.
Following the declaration by the Presidency that Buhari actually has a house in Abuja whose location and value were not revealed, Nigerians have been wondering if it is the same property that was uncovered in June by an online media, Breaking Times.
The media had reported that the Spartan Nigerian leader owns a sprawling Asokoro lakeside mansion located at number 9, Udo Udoma Street, Asokoro, Abuja.
The property is situated at a choice location in Asokoro, beside an exotic lake few yards away from the Presidential Villa fence.
Professional estate surveyors were said to have valued the land on which the property sits at approximately N1.2 billion.
Each of the three duplexes is valued at N300 million and this, when added to the cost of the land is approximately N2.1 billion.
Also, rent from tenants on each of the three duplexes is estimated at N6 million per annum.
The Asokoro property has been home to a former High Commissioner of an African, while the family of the late Special Adviser on Strategy and Documentation to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Oronto Douglas, are said to be tenants in the property.
The sum of N30 million declared by President Buhari is also causing ripples in several quarters across the country.
In October 2014, the Nigerian leader evoked the sympathy of the people when he declared that he took a bank loan of N27 million to purchase the APC presidential nomination form to contest the 2015 general election.
Buhari had lamented the high cost of the nomination form, but said that he was fired by his ambition to procure a bank loan, through the assistance of an unnamed bank chairman.
He stated that it took the understanding of his bankers in Kaduna and Abuja to raise the money.
His words, “I felt heavily sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and ask somebody to pay for my nomination forms, because I always try to pay myself, at least for the nomination.
“N27 million is a big sum. Thankfully, I have a personal relationship with the manager of my bank in Kaduna and early this morning, I put an early call (and) I told him that very soon the forms are coming, so, whether I am on red, or green or even black please honour it, otherwise I may lose the nomination,” Buhari had stated.
Reacting to the assets declaration, a public analysts in Lagos, Bayo Adeyinka, said, “During the elections, we were told that PMB was the only former Head of State who didn’t have even a plot of land in Abuja. Unfortunately, it turned out that he had more than a plot in Abuja.
“One may want to ask when he got the Abuja property since he has never mentioned it up till now, even when he declared his assets on social media during the elections?
“We were also regaled with the news that he had to borrow N27 million from a commercial bank in order to buy his nomination form.
“Now, we know he had about N30 million in cleared funds in his bank account. Was this a deliberate lie to court public sympathy?
“You can even see the facebook post of Governor Ibikunle Amosun quoting that Buhari had a bank balance of N1 million as at December 2014. When did N1 million grow to become N30 million in just four months (December 2014 to May 2015)? Gifts? His salaries?
“Another question: what is the value of the Abuja property? At least one can infer that the Abuja property was not as a result of mortgage from any bank. It is not enough to list that one has seven houses (including two mud houses). Can we know the declared values? It is part of his net worth,” he asked.
“If actually he has about N30 million, what of his liabilities, has he paid off the loan he collected from an unknown bank (to buy the nomination form)?” a source queried.