President Goodluck Jonathan
President Jonathan has said he doesn’t care what we write about this asset declaration matter, whether we commend or condemn him for his position on the issue. So, what I’m writing on the issue is a mere waste of time, if you like.
Yes, the President is very correct. He doesn’t have to publicly declare his assets. There is no provision in the law, I mean, there is no provision in Section 140 (1) of the constitution, as amended, on the need for a person elected to the office of President to declare his assets before performing the duties of the office; in Section 153, which establishes the Code of Conduct Bureau, to ensure, among others, that public officers declare their assets on assumption of office and at the expiration of their tenure and in Part 1, 3 (a) and (c) of the Third Schedule on the powers and functions of the bureau, that says public officers must publicly declare their assets.
However, a public officer, not in the least the president of the country, talking about fighting corruption must be able to lay the example of openness and transparency for others to follow. That would be a strong plank for the anti-corruption crusade. I guess that is the example late President Yar’Adua tried to give when he declared his assets publicly in 2007 and persuaded his then deputy, Dr. Jonathan, followed suit. But that is the point the President has sorely missed by his “I don’t give a damn” statement.
I laughed when I heard President Jonathan ask on national television what would have changed, what would he have achieved from when he was vice-president and now that he is president. I laughed. The President thinks we are all naïve, as if we don’t see what some mere local government chairmen acquire, allegedly with public funds, within just a few months in office. The challenge, as I see it, is for journalists to activate the FoI law and demand from the conduct bureau access to Jonathan’s asset declaration forms and see what he declared as VP in 2007 and what he declared as president in May 2010 or is it May 2011. Only by so doing can we spot the difference.