Start on a clean slate, make public your assets, investments, SERAP tells Tinubu

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the President-elect, Bola Tinubu to start on a clean slate by making public details of his assets, income, investments, liabilities, and interests and to encourage Vice President-elect, Kashim Shettima to do same.

In a letter dated May 27,2023 signed by its Deputy Director,  Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation urged Tinubu “to prioritise the full and effective respect for human rights, media freedom, the rule of law and the country’s judiciary including by promptly obeying countless court judgments which the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly treated with utter contempt and disdain.”

It also said: “SERAP notes your recent promise to kill corruption. However, this rhetoric is nothing new: the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari used similar hollow anticorruption phrase in 2015.

The organization said under the Buhari administration, the country witnessed the concentration of wealth in the hands of few politicians and elites who enriched themselves at the expense of the general public.

“As Nigerians have witnessed for eight years, Buhari has neither ‘killed corruption’ nor obeyed court judgments on transparency and accountability. Widely publishing details of your assets, income, investments and liabilities and encouraging your Vice-President-Elect and others to do the same would allow Nigerians to know your worth and the worth of other public officials. If your election is upheld by the judiciary, your government can use transparency in asset declarations as a means of promoting public accountability and ending systemic corruption in the country.”

The letter read in part: “Buhari’s broken promises to make specific details of his assets public and to ‘kill corruption’ have opened up the country’s political and electoral processes to a money free-for-all, discouraged political participation and contributed to impunity for corruption.

Although President Buhari’s march to Aso Rock was predicated, in large part, on his campaign rhetoric to ‘kill corruption’, corruption remains widespread among high-ranking public officials and in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). 

“Making public details of your assets, liabilities, and interests would reduce unjust enrichment of public officials, ensure integrity in public offices and promote transparency and accountability as well as good governance. Nigeria is very rich but its wealth is gravitating rapidly into the hands of a small portion of the population, and the power of corrupt enrichment has continued to threaten to undermine the political integrity of the country.

“The tendency for politicians when trying to persuade Nigerians to vote for them is to conceal or hide traits that might make voters reluctant to vote them into power and to hide what they want to do with that power. But once voted into power, politicians become trustees of public wealth and resources and must remove the camouflage.

Effective enforcement and implementation of court judgments is critical to the national interest and to the restoration of the rule of law in the country.”

SERAP while tasking the incoming government  to improve citizens’ trust and confidence in government, noted that it would  be difficult for the Tinubu-led government to be trusted if it failed to come clean on their assets and incomes.”

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