2023: CSO’s task Tinubu, Atiku, Kwankwaso, others to declare assets

A coalition of civil society organizations (CSOs) has called on the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, the flag bearer of the Labour Party, Peter Obi and the candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso to publicly declare their assets ahead of the 2023 general election,

The coalition said the lack of public data on the assets of potential political aspirants provides an avenue for opacity and a lack of accountability, thereby fueling political corruption.

The CSOs which includes Accountability Lab Nigeria, Connected Development (CODE), Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), Budgit, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), PLSI, Yiaga Africa, and Enough is Enough (EIE) said the call became imperative to ensure politician don’t enrich themselves and their cronies while holding public offices.

He said: “Despite the existence of a legal framework for asset declaration for political office holders, the level of compliance is unknown as data on asset declaration for office holders is not available to the public.

“The lack of public data on the assets of potential political aspirants provides an avenue for opacity and a lack of accountability; thereby fueling political corruption.”

The coalition stated categorically that the present administration has failed in setting a standard as far as a public declaration of assets by political office holders was concerned.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition, the Executive Director of CODE, Hamzat Lawal said there was a need for all the presidential candidates, government and critical stakeholders to prioritize accountability issues in government processes, fiscal transparency and on plans to strengthen anti-corruption agencies and address gender challenges.

”In all of this, to strengthen democracy in Nigeria through inclusive and accountable leadership with integrity and enhancing public trust in governance, we are calling all political parties and political aspirants to publicly declare their assets”.

The coalition lamented that the monetisation of politics was the main headline during the political parties’ primaries, adding that it has become a pointer to how vote buying and selling would play a disruptive role in the 2023 elections.

On his part, the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, Sam Itodo said it was an aberration of the constitution to nominate clear partisan persons as Resident Electoral Commission (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

He decried that vote buying has become a widespread practice, where democracy has struggled to be fully consolidated due to Nigeria’s entrenched corrupt political class, trapping citizens in self-sabotaging, subservient relationships with political leaders.

Itodo called on the National Assembly to oversee full operational independence of the INEC ahead of the 2023 elections and yield to numerous calls for transparency regarding its budget and auditing of its finances.

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