President Goodluck Jonathan
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
A human rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to declare his assets in line with the 1999 Constitution.
The group also asked President Jonathan to implement the report of the House of Representatives on the management of fuel subsidy and prosecute those indicted in all reports on corrupt practices including the House report on subsidy scams.
SERAP Executive Director, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, made the call in a statement issued yesterday, saying transfroming Nigeria “will take more than mere promises and preaching of decency: it requires strong leadership at the highest level of government.”
Mumuni said doing better in 2013 and meeting the basic needs of the citizens “will require President Jonathan to prioritise and demonstrate his expressed commitment to fight corruption by urgently ensuring the effective prosecution of those suspected of massive corruption in the fuel subsidy system and fully recover stolen public wealth and resources”.
He said leadership by example required President Jonathan “to declare and publish his assets for Nigerians to see. All outstanding corruption reports including the House Committee report on the subsidy racket must be fully implemented and perpetrators effectively punished. This should be the road-map for the government in 2013.”
Mumuni also faulted President Jonathan’s New Year message that his administration would move faster in 2013 to meet the basic needs of the citizens, saying it was rather routine and rhetorical.
He noted that what “is required now is for this government to act more and promise less. The President must show strong leadership and lead by example if he is to earn the trust of Nigerians and convince them that he is truly committed to the fight against corruption.”
“Half measures which avoid public scrutiny of the President’s own asset declaration, and effective prosecution of corruption cases when they involve those connected with this government are utterly inadequate and tend to throw the government into disrepute,” Mumuni said.
According to him, lack of accountable leadership together with the deficit of transparency in the management of public finances and public spending has continued to exacerbate the country’s growing poverty and underdevelopment.
He said the responsibility for sorting out Nigeria “rests ultimately with President Jonathan. The buck stops with him. Nigerians will judge him not by the number of promises he has made, but by the number of roads repaired, decent hospitals established, and how much difference he is able to make to ensure other basic necessities are enjoyed by millions of impoverished Nigerians,” he said.
“Genuine fight against corruption can’t happen unless President Jonathan wants it and leads by example. We are concerned that this government has continued to deny the endemic nature of corruption at the highest level of government. This attitude is aptly illustrated when in response to the courageous statement by Bishop of Bomadi Catholic Diocese, Vicarage Hyacinth Egbebor underscoring the systemic nature of corruption in the country.”
He urged the federal government “to show concern about the 2012 Failed States Index published by the United States based Foreign Policy Journal which placed Nigeria in the 144th position of its annual ranking of 177 countries; and the 2012 United Nations’ Human Development Index, which rated Nigeria 159th out of the 172 countries polled”.
Mumuni noted that the reports show low quality of life across the country brought about by the systemic denial of access to safe water, health and educational infrastructure, among others.