The highlight of President Goodluck Jonathan’s media chat today was his response to the question about his asset declaration. I watched the event online and I missed his answer to this all-important question because of disruptions in the Channels TV streaming.
If reports from online journals about the president’s response are anything to go by, then there little or no hope for the country. According to one report, asked why he had not declared his assets, President Jonathan replied “I don’t give a damn” about declaration of assets. He said he had gone to late President Umaru Yar’Adua to caution “that we should not play to the hands of some people (by openly declaring their assets),” adding, “That is a matter of principle and I am not going to declare. It is not the president declaring his asset that will end Boko Haram.” The president went on to say whether he is criticised from “head to toe” he will not declare his assets.
The president’s response raises a number of issues, including trust, integrity, the rule of law and respect for the Constitution of the Federal Republic. Maybe, I am missing something! It is important to see what the Constitution says vis a vis the president’s response.
Paragraph 3, Part I of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that the Code of Conduct Bureau shall have power to: (a) receive declarations by public officers made under paragraph 12 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Constitution; (b) examine the declarations in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct or any law; (c) retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.
Fifth Schedule Paragraph 11 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution provides that:
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every public officer shall within three months after the coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter — (a) at the end of every four years; and (b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen years.
Seventh Schedule Oaths Oaths of Allegiance
1, … Goodluck Ebele Jonathan ……. Do solemnly swear/affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So help me God
Oath of Office of President
I, …….Goodluck Ebele Jonathan…………. do solemnly swear/affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will strive to preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or my official decisions; that I will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that I will abide by the CODE OF CONDUCT (emphasis added) contained in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that in all circumstances, I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will; that I will not directly or indirectly communication or reveal to any person any matter which shall be brought under my consideration or shall become known to me as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, except as may be required for the due discharge of my duties as President; and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of Nigeria. So help me God.
Written by Chido Onumah