While campaigning in February for the gubernatorial seat in Oyo state, Governor Seyi Makinde promised to declare his assets publicly if elected governor. Late on Monday night, July 15, Makinde released to the media through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, his assets as submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in a form marked OYSE/2019/001.
According to the media release, the Oyo state governor and his wife have assets worth over N48 billion as of May 28, 2019.
The Buhari angle: Although the law only requires that public servants declare their assets to the CCB, it is at the discretion and prerogative of such an elected officer or individual to release details to the public. The problem however is that if a politician makes a campaign promise, he has a responsibility to fulfil it. Makinde did, but President Muhammadu Buhari failed to do so despite making a similar promise in 2015.
- What the president chose to do instead after much public pressure in 2015 was to release a vague statement highlighting some line items in his form, whereas his original promise was to release the official declaration just the way Makinde has now done.
- The president left out information pertaining to the assets of his wife and children. That’s even more pertinent these days as his wife, Aisha, has become so rich while in power that she has announced plans to build a university.
- A lot of Nigerians criticized the insincere attempts at asset declaration by President Buhari and Vice President Yemj Osinbajo as soon as details of Makinde’s asset was released.
- In 2007, late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, former Nigerian president, became the only Nigerian politician to have ever declared his assets publicly on assumption of office same year.
- The last that was heard of Buhari’s promise to publicly declare his assets is the statement: “As soon as the CCB is through with the process [of verification], the documents will be released to the Nigerian public and people can see for themselves.” That was all just a ruse as years later, nothing has been done, with Buhari not permitting the CCB to release it on his behalf.
- Following Buhari’s lead, VP Osinbajo simply released a statement cherrypicking which assets to list, failing to include those of his wife, and withholding information about the exact shareholding in the companies affiliated to him.
What it means: This makes Seyi Makinde the second Nigerian, after Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, to have explicitly, publicly and fully declared his assets, very early on in his term in office. With his move he has shamed Buhari who refuses to realise that integrity begins when one’s promises and actions align. Makinde’s example is also a strong differentiator for the governor because the reason many Nigerians do not rate the opposition PDP highly when it criticises Pres. Buhari is because its members do not have a stellar track record themselves.