About two weeks ago, the governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde, shocked a Nigeria not used to the open society that democratic governance advocates. While the norm among holders of office in Nigeria is to dictate alleged details of their pre-office worth to their media handlers for the world to feast upon, Makinde went a notch higher by handing over a copy of his assets declaration to the world through the press. By his own admittance, he was worth about N48 billion. Ever since, the ears of the world had tingled considerably.
One, this move was unlike a typical Nigerian public office holder’s. Second, in recent Nigerian history, apart from late President Umaru Yar’Adua, no Nigerian political office holder had made similar noble move. While we were still lifting our thumbs up to this man, Lorreta Onochie, Buhari’s aide, had dragged the hallowed discourse to the level of ribaldry by equating Makinde’s noble move with her principal’s. Buhari, it is on record, had promised to publicly declare his assets and would get his vice to do same. As we speak, not only has he swallowed his vomits, Nigerians only confront his so-called openness in the dream. There are allegations that his actual worth is in multiple of billions of Naira while that of his vice who masquerades in the veneer of a man of God is akin only to that of Candido Joao Da Rocha, one of Nigeria’s wealthiest entrepreneurs.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) was to further pollute this apparent obtuse statement from the president’s aide. It said it doubted the claim that Makinde possesses such wealth and he should tell the party what he did to acquire the humongous wealth. On its surface, this charge sounds very logical and an apparent question to ask in speaking truth to power. Its drawbacks can however be found in the fact that, at the click of a computer button, what Makinde does to acquire the said wealth can be discovered or much still, they can write a letter to America’s equivalent of the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to help APC lift the veil on how the governor acquired the wealth. I thought that, at this juncture, we should applaud the governor for this show of openness and encourage Buhari, his Pasteur Vice and all other governors to do the same.
What I thought the APC ought to have brought out is the practice over the years where public office holders who fill assets forms declare modest worth but acquire multiple wealth in office. This, to me, would have made more sense than seeking to pollute the democratic score that Oyo State today boasts of by having the first governor in the history of Nigeria’s democratic practice to sincerely declare his assets.
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