Asking the average Nigerian elite to declare his/her assets for public knowledge is like asking a rural Yoruba farmer to reveal the number of children he has who help him on the farm. While the latter believes his revelation will lead to imposition of higher taxes, the former is equally unwilling to disclose his source of wealth, clean or shady. But the President and his Vice bucked this trend on assets last year when the duo, in an unprecedented move, publicly declared their assets for common knowledge.
However, this executive move is not shared by some top members of the current administration. The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has threatened to arrest and possibly prosecute at least 19 ministers and heads of agencies in President Buhari’s government for non-compliance with procedures of declaring their assets. The 19 appointees, according to a statement issued by the CCB Chairman, Sam Saba, have so far not honoured invitations to appear before the Bureau to clear their asset declaration claims. Saba said most of those invited by the bureau have failed to respond.
The issue of declaration of assets has always been contentious in a materialistic society like Nigeria, and many top public officials would rather die first than expose the volume of their acquisitions to ‘ignorant’ citizens. However, for the sake of transparency and an accountable governance process, assets declaration is crucial. This helps to show that those who go into government service do not have the singular mindset of looting the national till. As the CCB has raised the alarm, it is hoped that those invited officials would comply promptly and disperse any cloud of public suspicion. That is what true leadership and service is all about. Isn’t it?….
– Abimbola Akosile