President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, have both done well by declaring their assets as required by law. What Buhari and Osinbajo did, however, only satisfied the minimum requirement.
But this is not a minimum requirement government; we did not clamour for the minimum. The General and Prof made a promise of publicly declaring their assets; as far as I am concerned, they have not fully done so, and it is not too late.
This team should go one step further by making their assets truly public; and it is simple. The same information on the asset forms should just be photocopied and handed over to the media. This takes only one minute; then they would have fulfilled one of their campaign promises.
Those suggesting that Nigerians should go through the Freedom of Information Act’s access port must know the task and the wall of impossibility involved in the process. Nigerians should not be put through some frustrating and heart-throbbing official rigmarole request process called the FoI. There is nothing “Free” about accessing wealth information of big boys in Nigeria, and it must change.
If it’s not difficult to ascertain the wealth worth of Barack Obama of the United States, it must not be difficult in Nigeria if we have nothing to hide. I have sought some information in Nigeria for two years and up till today, I have heard nothing.
The FoI Act is a bottleneck and baloney. If it works, every information regarding the salaries, allowances and declared assets of all public servants - legislators, governors, local government chairmen, ministers, among others should be public by now. But today, we don’t have that; and we will never have it through the FoI Act. Well, maybe I am not Nigerian enough to navigate the FoI waters.
I still trust Buhari and Osinbajo; I believe in them, and I know they have nothing to hide. We are here just talking about letting our word be our bond and giving no room for second-guessing. When it comes to transparency, President Buhari should not be ordinary; these are extraordinary times in Nigeria.
by Fola Ojo
Ibadan, Oyo State