Example in Transparency: SERAP Calls on President Tinubu Publish Asset Declaration

By Joke Kujenya

MARKING THE first year of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the President to publicly disclose his asset declaration form.

Highlighting the significance of this action for promoting democracy, accountability, and transparency, SERAP’s call was detailed in an open letter dated May 25, 2024, and signed by Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare.

The group also urged President Tinubu to encourage Vice-President Kashim Shettima, ministers, and state governors to follow suit, proposing a constitutional amendment to establish an asset declaration database, ensuring that the financial details of public officials are accessible before, during, and after their tenure.

The letter highlighted the significant public interest in asset disclosure, noting that such transparency would enhance public trust and participation. “Publishing your asset declaration form and encouraging others to do the same would promote public trust and establish a system of transparency, accountability, and public participation,” SERAP stated.

The organization pointed out that President Tinubu had promised in his inaugural speech on May 29, 2023, to take proactive steps against corruption and ensure impartial governance according to the constitution and the rule of law.

It says that it sees the anniversary as an opportunity for the President to reaffirm his commitment to these principles by implementing the recommended measures.

Transparency in asset declaration forms, according to SERAP, would allow Nigerians to scrutinize and verify the financial status of public officials, thereby identifying potential conflicts of interest and corruption. The group stressed that asset declarations are a matter of public interest and should be readily accessible online.

SERAP underscored the role of transparency in tackling corruption, which it described as one of the greatest challenges to Nigeria’s democracy. The organization asserted that corrupt politicians often conceal assets to perpetuate corrupt practices, and making asset declarations public would help combat this issue.

The letter also referenced Nigeria’s legal and international obligations, including the Nigerian Constitution and various anti-corruption and human rights treaties, which mandate public officials to declare their assets. It cited the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, and the UN Convention against Corruption as frameworks supporting asset transparency.

By disclosing their assets, high-ranking officials can enhance public confidence in the integrity of government and ensure honest service delivery. SERAP argued that such openness is vital for rebuilding a transparent and accountable governance system.

The organization concluded by urging President Tinubu to take the lead in promoting transparency and to set an example for other officials to follow. The call to action is rooted in the belief that public scrutiny of asset declarations will strengthen Nigeria’s democracy and foster a more accountable and participatory government.

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