In lauding President Umaru Yar’Adua’s recent public declaration of assets, Mr. Sonala Olumhense (Guardian Jul 22, 2007) says this of him: “It says he is not afraid. It asserts he is whom he says he is. It says he is a man of principle. It describes his character.” Mr. Olumhense went on to say “there is one Nigerian, one particular Nigerian, for whom Mr. Yar’Adua’s example is of even greater significance. That person is Mr. Jonathan…If the Vice-President does not declare his assets, it would be a signal to all other public officials that nothing has changed, and that the example of Mr. Yar’Adua should be ignored…all of the talk about a new beginning is the President’s problem that has no meaning.”
Mr. Olumhense further added: “Mr. Jonathan would be declaring war on the President’s objective of leading by example…if Mr. Jonathan does not declare his assets, or chooses to hide his “declaration” under a legal banana leaf, it is proof he has something to hide, and he must be considered to be subverting our hopes for the future. If he does not follow the example of the President and declare his assets publicly, Mr. Jonathan has an agenda that is suspicious…If he does not declare his assets, publicly and promptly, he forfeits the privilege of taking the respect of the people with him, because it must be assumed that having been the Governor of a State, he has pilfered from the people of that state, and is uncomfortable having to explain his wealth.”
It is in light of this — and in light of similar calls by several other opinion-makers — that makes the Vice President’s recent comment in the Vanguard newspaper (Sunday, July 29, 2007) untenable, reckless, arrogant, and misguided. My advice — and the overwhelming consensus amongst all Nigerians — is for Dr. Jonathan Goodluck to publicly declare his assets, forthwith. And even his people, the Ijaw, want him to come clean: to publicly and unequivocally declare his assets. There should be no delay, no hanky-panky, no double-talk, and no rigmaroles. To do otherwise would be handing his critics and his political enemies the tools with which to destroy and undermine him.
If indeed, he had secretly “declared his assets five times to the Code of Conduct Bureau,” well, that’s admirable. It is admirable, but not enough. What he should do now, for his and for the sake of the government in which he is the number two man, is to publicly declare his portfolio. He should do so without delay, he should do it now. What’s he hiding, and what’s he afraid of? If he has nothing to hide and nothing to be afraid of, he should go before the Nigerian people and declare his holdings. Only the guilty need be afraid. Aside from public declaration of assets, there ought to be a law requiring officials to also explain how they came about their assets.
Haven’t we all wondered how much was Peter Odili, James Ibori and all the governors from the oil-producing states were worth a year before they became governors? And how much were they worth a month after the expiration of their term in office? Closer home, how much was Mr. Timpre Sylva worth a year before he became an adviser to the former
Back to the issue at hand: in the same Vanguard report, Vice President Jonathan Goodluck was reported to have said “Some of the claims in the media was that I left a huge debt behind but these were written out of ignorance. I hear N42billion and N62billion. I was governor for 16 months and I don’t want to mention the amount. Whether anybody agrees or not the records are there. In
It is alleged that a huge chunk of money is missing from the state treasury. No one knows what the exact amount is. Various reports have it at between N50 to N165billion. In this age of forensic accounting, getting a handle on the true amount shouldn’t be that difficult. Even rudimentary accounting could have solved the problem to the tune of + or – 10%: how much was given to
How much is the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria worth? We all want to know. He should tell us now, and publicly, too. What’s he hiding; and where is he hiding it assuming there is something to hide? If there is nothing to hide, he should come before the people and say so. In the words of Sonala Olumhense, “in our nation today, declaring your assets is no longer a privilege or a matter of the law. Nor is it a burden. It is a national duty. Declare Your Assets, so that others may begin to know whom you are, or get out of the new way.” Vice President Jonathan Goodluck, please “D-Y-A, D-Y-A, D-Y-A…Declare Your Assets…Publicly!