President Goodluck Jonathan was addressing the touchy issue of assets declaration during his publicly televised media chat on Sunday, when he boldly declared: “I don’t give a damn about it”.
However, an investigation by the Punch newspapers have shown that the President’s flat out refusal to declare his assets violate the Programme and Police Trust of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Delivering his firm refusal to declare his assets on Sunday, Jonathan said: “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 PDP leading man’s statement, the investigative report shows, violates the Programme and Policy Trust for 2011-2015 in the ruling party’s manifesto, which states that all elected officials will openly declare their assets.
Jonathan, who declared his assets while he was Vice President, said he had only done so because he was compelled by his late boss, former President Umaru Yar’adua to declare them.
The Manifesto boasts, however, that 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 is not clear if the party has asked Jonathan to declare his assets and he refused. The party, despite its manifesto, is supporting Jonathan’s decision to keep mum about his belongings.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, said on Monday that the Programme and Policy Trust of the Peoples Democratic Party did not pass through the party’s National Working Committee, adding that the “President has not done anything wrong constitutionally by not publicly declaring his assets”.
Metuh recalled Jonathan’s statements on Sunday that declaring his assets will do nothing to solve the pressing issues at hand – Boko Haram war on security and the nation’s troubled economy – and as such was irrelevant.