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Importance of Gov Makinde’s open assets declaration

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GOVERNOR Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde of Oyo State drew attention once again to the “pace-setter” slogan of his state by voluntarily making public the details of his assets declaration submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.

He valued the total worth of his assets (companies, houses, cash, domestic possessions and investments in Nigeria and abroad) at N48 billion with full details provided. He also disclosed the worth of the assets of his wife, Omini, and promised to encourage officials of his government to do the same.

The law demands that declaration must be made before a person assumes public office but it does not make it compulsory for the details to be made available to the public. As a result, most political office holders prefer to keep their asset declarations secret.

Though many Nigerians on Twitter have expressed their reservations about the eye-popping value of Makinde’s declared assets, he received commendation from Senator Shehu Sani, a human rights advocate who described the gesture as “as a moral challenge to the messiahs of transparency, angels of change and saints of anti-corruption”.

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Makinde’s exemplary declaration brought back to mind the hugely applauded gesture of the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua who, on assumption of office in 2007, openly disclosed his declared assets and those of his wife, Turai.

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, whose government is anchored on a strong anti-corruption agenda, made their assets declarations public but did not declare their wives’ worth. They also did not give concrete details or addresses of their properties for verification by interested members of the public. This has kept tongues wagging till date.

The remarkable thing about Governor Makinde’s graphic open declaration is that he cannot really be accused of engaging in “anticipatory declaration” since the CCB and interested members of the public have been given information to enable them crosscheck and verify his claims. It is those who keep details of their assets private that make it impossible for their claims to be independently verified.

We strongly believe that making it compulsory for prospective occupants of public offices to disclose full details of their personal assets is a necessary step towards preventing, tracking and curbing official corruption. Such open declaration will also enable tax authorities to determine if such officials are up to date with their tax remittances to government. Secret declaration makes this near-impossible.

Anybody who has nothing to hide about the genuineness of his personal fortune should not have any problem making his asset declaration public. It is in the light of this that we commend Governor Makinde for his exemplary gesture. The CCB and tax authorities should follow up accordingly.

VANGUARD

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