The refusal of President Goodluck Jonathan to openly declare his assets was against the Programme and Policy Trust of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Jonathan during his Sunday’s media chat broadcast on television said he did not declare his assets publicly and that he only did so as Vice President because his late boss, Umaru Yar’Adua, compelled him.
“The issue of asset declaration is a matter of principle. I don’t give a damn about it, if you want to criticise me from heaven. The issue of public declaration I think is playing to the gallery. You don’t need to publicly declare any assets. If I am somebody who wants to hide it is what I tell you that you will even believe,” the President had said.
The PDP states in its Manifesto, Programme and Policy Trust for 2011-2015, committed that it will work to ensure that its elected officials openly declare their assets.
Under its Anti-Corruption Policy Thrust, the party promises that the primary objective of a “PDP-led government is to substantially reduce corruption in Nigeria and to develop and promote the mechanisms and institutions for preventing, detecting, and bringing offenders to justice.”
It says that one of the road maps aimed at achieving this will be to “persuade officials to make public their assets declaration records and support a legal backing for compulsory open declaration of assets.”
It was, however, not clear if the party persuaded the President to openly declare his assets and he refused.
However, a former Minister of Defence, Dr. Haliru Bello, who was a former Acting National Chairman of the party when the document was produced, also failed to openly declare his assets.
Bello even wrote the foreword to the booklet.
“This manifesto and Policy Thrust will continue to guide the party and PDP government at all levels to build on the successes of the party and procure a safe, stable and prosperous future for Nigeria,” Bello writes in the foreword.
A member of the National Working Committee of the party, who spoke on the issue on condition of anonymity, however frowned on the refusal of both Jonathan and Bello to openly declare their assets “as a good example for others.”
The anonymous PDP chieftain wondered how the leaders who failed to obey party guidelines would be able to impress it on others to also toe the path of openness by openly declare their assets.
But the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, on Monday said the said Programme and Policy Trust of the Peoples Democratic Party did not pass through the party’s National Working Committee. He also defended Jonathan’s refusal to openly declare his assets when he became President on May 29, 2011.
Metuh said, “That document did not pass through the NWC. But let me say that the President has not done anything wrong constitutionally by not publicly declaring his assets.
“The President did so as vice-president and has also acted as the law requires now. He has not done anything wrong constitutionally.
“Like he said, open declaration of assets has nothing to do with fighting Boko Haram.”
Meanwhile, the Congress for Progressive Change has faulted the President over his statement on the declaration of assets.
It expressed concern about Jonathan’s assertion that he was forced as the Vice- President to declare his assets against his desire.
“Should this mean that this President is not principled, otherwise he ought to have resigned his appointment if he was forced to act against his desire,” the CPC argued in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin.
Fashakin said that the President’s demeanour on the issue of asset declaration left many questions unanswered.
He said that the president had not even told the nation that he declared his assets after his inauguration on May 29.
Also, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, and Education Rights Concern on Monday in Abuja condemned the refusal of Jonathan to declare his assets openly.
This CACOL said the President’s refusal to declare his assets publicly was a deliberate act of justifying corruption.
The Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, noted that the President’s action smacks of disrespect.