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Assets declaration of political office holders to be made public – why it matters

Director of the NFIU, Modibbo Hamman-Tukur

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Assets declaration of political office holders to be made public – why it matters

The Director, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Modibbo Hamman-Tukur, has disclosed that the assets of all public officials and senior political office holders will soon be open for public consumption. It was one of the conditions reached with the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units before the suspension it placed on Nigeria was lifted in September 2018.

Speaking on Thursday while defending the NFIU’s budget before the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, Hamman-Tukur said:

  • Certain conditions were placed on Nigeria before the suspension was lifted.
  • “With the lifting of the suspension, it is likely that all assets of all leaders, public officials and political office holders will be displayed. They want to see us work with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). They want us to work closely with the presidency, Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). They want to see the assets of all public officials displayed publicly,” he said.

The big question is when: No timeline was given for when the database of declared assets will become available to the public.

Why it matters: Making declared assets of political office holders public could play a role in preventing corruption in public service. It enables citizens to publicly scrutinize and ask questions when the assets of politicians suddenly increase beyond what is explainable by their income.

  • It also helps lay bare issues of potential conflicts of interest.
  • Prevents abuse of political power.

Between the lines: Nigerians were excited in 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari promised to publicly declare his assets when elected. Unfortunately, he spent the first few months after elections denying that he made the promise, and eventually released a summary statement with some details but not the actual declaration document as promised.

  • The only Nigerian political office holder to have followed through on his promise to publicly release the document as submitted was the late former president Umaru Musa Yaradua.

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