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Tinubu, Atiku, others must publicly declare assets ahead of campaign, CSOs demand

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
02 September 2022   |   4:06 am
Ahead of commencement of campaigns by political parties, civil society organisations (CSO) have urged presidential candidates to publish details of their assets and liabilities.

APC presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu and PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar

Ahead of commencement of campaigns by political parties, civil society organisations (CSO) have urged presidential candidates to publish details of their assets and liabilities.

They also called on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to submit its budget report to the National Assembly for scrutiny.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, the CSOs said the call became necessary to uphold transparency and ensure the 2023 election is not heavily monetised.

The CSOs are: YIAGA Africa, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Connected Development (CODE), BudgiT, Accountability Lab Nigeria, Enough is Enough, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) and Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative.

Executive director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, and executive director, CODE, Hamzat Lawal, who spoke on behalf of the groups, said despite the existence of a legal framework for asset declaration for political office holders, the level of compliance is unknown, as data on asset declaration for office holders is not available to the public.

According to them, lack of public data on assets of potential political aspirants provides avenue for opacity and a lack of accountability, thereby fuelling political corruption.

They said: “With over 20 years of sustaining democracy, Nigeria needs to work towards achieving inclusive governance, where all classes of citizens and underserved groups have every opportunity to participate in governance processes effectively.

“The monetisation of politics was the main headline during political parties’ primaries and has become a pointer to how vote buying and selling will play a disruptive role in the 2023 elections.

“This has also affected the value of the naira, as aspirants now deal in and distribute major international currencies, especially the dollar. In the last couple of weeks, the dollar-to-naira exchange rate peaked at N715 on the parallel market due to undue pressure on the value of the naira.

“Vote buying has become a widespread practice, where democracy has struggled to be fully consolidated due to Nigeria’s entrenched corrupt political class, trapping citizens in self-sabotaging, subservient relationships with political leaders. We are, therefore, calling all political parties and political aspirants to publicly declare their assets.

“They should also declare the utilisation and retiring of their 2019 campaign funds, in compliance with Sections 85-90 of the 2022 Nigerian Electoral Act, as a sign of good faith and commitment to publishing the same after the 2023 elections.”