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U.S. wants open declaration of Nigerian officials’ assets – The Guardian

Amid the rising public despair about official graft in Nigeria, the United States (U.S.) has urged the country’s elected and senior public officials to make their assets declaration public.

In the U.S., the president and other elected and senior public officials normally release their income statements on a yearly basis especially during the time they file their yearly taxes.

This issue, according to sources, is one of the discussions and fallouts of the recent Nigeria-US Bi-national Commission (BNC) meeting in Washington where top U.S. officials also insisted that the report of the House of Representatives probe on the fuel subsidy regime must not be swept under the carpet.

The Guardian learnt that during the BNC review sessions, specifically the Governance, Transparency and Integrity working group, the top U.S. official at the closed door session, Under Secretary, Maria Otero, first commended the Federal Government for passing the Freedom of Information Act, (FoI), which the U.S. official believes has the potential of expanding the boundaries of transparency in the country.

Otero then reportedly explained to the Nigerian delegation why the asset declaration of elected and senior public officials should not just be disclosed in papers locked away in the coffers of a government agency without access to the public.

Equally, Otero who represented the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, at the meeting, added that the Federal Government should also get into the habit of publishing audited reports of its accounts in order to inspire public confidence.

On the same note, the U.S. delegation led by Otero at the session, according to sources, requested that Nigeria should join the Open Government Partnership, (OGP), a forum of about 55 countries in the world determined to promote open governance and a culture of accountability around the world.

According to U.S. officials and OGP public records, the OGP is an international initiative aimed at securing concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable.

At the same BNC forum, the U.S. government officials also explained why the Federal Government must ensure that the report of the House of Representatives on the fuel subsidy scandal must not be swept under the carpet.

At the meeting, both the Solicitor-General, Abdullahi Yola and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC’s Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, reacted with Yola defending the Attorney-General, who he said has been maligned in the press since he remarked that the House report was not a criminal report.

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