By Lateef Ibrahim
A group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the thirty-five (35) state governors in Nigeria to emulate the example of Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, who recently declared his assets openly by publishing without further delay the full details of their asset declarations submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
The group declared that Nigerians ought to know the worth of their state governors.
The publication of asset declarations by state governors, SERAP reasoned, will improve transparency, accountability and good governance and assure the public that neither fraud nor illicit enrichment is concealed.
It further maintained that knowing the worth of state governors before and after taking offices would also prevent rumours, half-truths or innuendo regarding asset declarations.
According to the assets declaration form marked OYSE/2019/001, and submitted to the CCB and made public this month, Mr Makinde’s worth is put at about N50 billion – his firms are worth up to N48.1 billion; shares, cash and portfolios make up the rest.
In a statement yesterday by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Public officials cannot lay claim to absolute privacy in matters of asset declarations. There is an overriding public interest in the disclosure of information on the assets of public officials, including state governors, who are trustees of Nigeria’s wealth and resources.
“There is nothing inherently private in the affairs of governors, and we will consider appropriate legal action if state governors continue to fail or refuse to publish their asset declarations”, it said.
SERAP added: “Continuing failure or reluctance by many state governors to publish their asset declarations submitted to the CCB may lead to public perception that the governors are attempting to hide something from the citizens regarding those declarations, especially given the fact that many of the public officials being tried for or convicted of corruption are found to have made a false declaration of their assets”.
The organization also urged the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to “use his leadership position and good offices to encourage all the members of NGF, who have not yet done so, to declare their assets and to publish their declarations submitted to the CCB without delay.
“The NGF can play a positive role in encouraging greater transparency in asset declarations by governors”, it said.