By Soni Daniel, Clifford Ndujihe, Henry Umoru & Bartholomew Madukwe
NATIONAL leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, took a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo over their asset declaration, saying that they were deceiving Nigerians. Noting that President Buhari last December declared that he had only N1 million in his account, the PDP wondered how the money suddenly rose to N30 million by May 29 after an expensive campaign. And this is apart from assets in his wife’s name.
This came as first civilian Governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa said that with the declaration, Buhari is a wealthy man and can no longer pretend to be poor. Meantime, Human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said the presidency disclosing after 100 days of Buhari’s inauguration implied that he was forced to do so just as Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) chieftain, Mr Bisi Adegbuyi described the move as a welcome development and urged all public officials to emulate Buhari and Osinbajo.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metu, the PDP described the declaration as “a deceptive window-dressing to hoodwink unsuspecting Nigerians” because ‘’it is a mere list of some belongings of President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo in place of the pledge made to Nigerians by Mr. President as candidate of the APC on March 18, 2015, at exactly 5 pm.’’
The PDP recalled that the President, in his own words had told Nigerians, ‘I pledge to publicly declare my assets and liability and also encourage my political appointees to publicly declare their assets and liability,’ and observed that President Buhari and his vice failed to produce copies of their declarations detailing the exact nature and value of respective assets.
Metuh said: “The release of a mere list of belongings falls short of credibility, transparency and anti-corruption standards as well as exposes the proclivity of the present administration for deception. We have noted the release of a flimsy list of belongings of President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo by the Presidency, who want such to pass as the public declaration of assets as pledged by the President.
“Nigerians are not deceived by this poor attempt at window-dressing designed by the Presidency to hoodwink the unsuspecting populace in a desperate bid to shore up its diminished image. We ask, is the resort to a mere list, instead of true copies of the declaration not a ploy to give the Presidency a window for denial in consonance with their widely observed inclination for flip flopping, backtracking and brazen denials of their statements and actions?
“All we want is credibility, integrity and sincerity of purpose. We are not questioning how a President, who by December last year, declared that he had only N1 million in his account, could suddenly now list N30 million in the same bank account by May 29, and after an expensive campaign; we are not yet demanding the public declaration of his assets in his wife’s name.
We are not even applauding the multiplication of his cows from 150 to 250 in a space of three months, arising from his dual and conflicting pronouncements on this issue. “What the PDP and discerning Nigerians demand is for Mr. President to always stand by his words and pledge. Mr. President, this is a mere list of your belongings and not public declaration of assets in fulfilment of your covenant with Nigerians.”
Buhari is multi-billionaire, can’t bring about change –Musa
On his part, Balarabe Musa, who was sacked from office in 1983 by Buhari, said that it was clear from the assets listed that the President that he is a multi-billionaire, who also wields enormous power and influence and cannot therefore be seen as a peasant committed to the well being of the less privileged.
Noting, however, that the declaration is better late than never, apparently referring to previous presidents, who did not care to make public their worth, he doubted what Buhari presented to the public, saying that it was at variance with the low profile and ‘poor man’ posture the president had wanted to foist on Nigerians.
He said: “Before the last election, Buhari had given us the erroneous impression that he was a poor man, requiring bank loans to buy nomination form and run his campaigns but now he has shown that he has cash of N30 million, huge investments in companies and banks and farm assets.
“By this declaration, it is clear that Buhari is one of the wealthy and influential Nigerians, who wield enormous power. He can therefore, no longer pretend to be among the poor masses and I doubt if he can still effect the change he promised the poor. We are therefore, waiting and watching to see the expected change.”
Emulate Buhari, Osinbajo, public officials urged
Adegbuyi had a contrary view. He said: ‘’Nigerians have been clamouring for Buhari to declare his assets. In the course of the campaigns he promised to declare his assets. It is a welcome. We expect all other public officials to follow their example. ‘’However, my attitude to the war on corruption is that we should place emphasis on blocking the gate.
There is no question about it, President Buhari is a man of integrity and his strongest point is his widely acclaimed anti-corruption stance. We don’t have any problem with the president regarding his position on corruption but we must close the gate, which means devising institutional means of fighting corruption.’’
Action is belated– Adegboruwa
On his part, Adegboruwa, in a statement, said: “This action of the President, coming after Nigerians have made this demand upon him several months, is rather belated, serving no useful purpose presently. For the assets declaration to make any meaningful impact, it should have been declared voluntarily and without any prompting upon the President, by Nigerians.
“The implication of this is that the President was forced to declare his assets. Furthermore, it was in his covenant with Nigerians that the President made a solemn promise to publicly declare his assets, within the first 100 days of his administration.”