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PDP, ACN express different opinion regarding President Jonathan’s comment: I don’t give a Damn about Asset declaration

President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential media chat
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, yesterday, joined issues on the propriety of President Goodluck Jonathan making a public declaration of his assets.

While the PDP disowned claims of its manifesto urging its elected political office holders to entrench transparency through public declaration of their assets, the ACN upbraided the president for lowering the threshold of accountability by his determination to hide his assets from the public.

The two leading political parties spoke in separate reactions to the fallouts of the presidential media chat of last Sunday during which Jonathan declared that he would not be forced to make a public declaration of his assets.

The PDP’s reaction articulated by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, also rebuffed reports that its manifesto requires its elected public officials to help the war against graft by making a public show of their assets.

“The reference to the PDP manifesto is baseless, as provisions compelling elected officials to publicly declare their assets are nonexistent in our approved manifesto or in any of the official documents of the party. For the avoidance of doubt, the said document which formed the basis of the report is not an official document of the PDP and cannot, therefore, be used to mischievously tarnish the well earned reputation of the President of Nigeria,” Chief Metuh said last night.

Noting that the President has satisfied the constitutional requirements on him to declare his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau, the party said: “Publishing the declaration of assets is not a requirement of law or the constitution. Any decision to make public such a declaration is at the discretion of the individual concerned and should, therefore, not be used as a reason to distract the government from performing more critical constitutional duties.”

Jonathan lacks of commitment to anti-graft fight —ACN

The ACN in its response to the media chat, however, flayed the president for supposedly lowering the threshold of the war against corruption, saying that the President’s determination to hide his assets was against moral scruples.

The response articulated by the ACN National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “If that programme had been designed to showcase the President’s ability to grapple with key national issues, it only succeeded in achieving the exact opposite, and the programme’s architects must now seriously have a rethink on whether they want to continue to feature their principal on that platform.”

“The President, by refusing to publicly declare his assets, and by doing so with a choice of words that portray arrogance and nonchalance (I don’t give a damn about that), has given the green light to his cabinet members and other government officials to downplay the fight against corruption and to eschew transparency.

“Yes, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not mandate public officials to make their assets declaration public. But in a country hobbled by corruption and lack of transparency in governance, public declaration of assets is more an issue of morality and leadership than constitutionality or legality.

“Since leadership is key to achieving success in this epic battle, President Jonathan, by thumbing his nose at his own administration’s much-stated commitment to transparency and anti-corruption, has simply decreed an Open Sesame for corruption and opaqueness in government.”

The party said equally disturbing is the President’s statement that because Boko Haram is faceless, the government cannot engage in talks aimed at ending the daily dosage of maiming and killing being given to innocent Nigerians by the sect.

‘’Mr. President, if this remains the stand of your administration almost three years into the Boko Haram insurgency, then Nigerians are in serious trouble. This stand is as dangerous as it is ill-informed. Such negotiations are done through back-channels, through intermediaries, Mr. President. Waiting for the leaders of Boko Haram to come to the table to negotiate with the government is like waiting for Godot,” it said.

The party said the statement has only confirmed the speculations in some circles that the Jonathan Administration is not sincere about ending the Boko Haram crisis, because it is being increasingly seen by the President as his trump card for a second term in office.

It has also confirmed the President’s own admission that Boko Haram has infiltrated his administration, in which case it is now possible that he is being advised by fifth columnists within his government on how to end the crisis!

‘’But we will like to tell Mr. President that when the Western allies, led by the US, decided to talk to insurgents either in Iraq or Afghanistan, supposed facelessness of the insurgency was not a condition for initiating the talks. In any case, when the intermediaries brokering the talks with Boko Haram recently opted out due to alleged government insincerity and leakage of sensitive information, what did your Administration do, Mr. President, to get the intermediaries back to the table?’’ ACN queried.

The party also expressed shock at the President’s justification of his ill-advised trip to Brazil when his country was in the throes of violence, saying he did not convince anyone that hopping into a plane with a large retinue of officials and flying off to Brazil is the best way to show the international community, especially investors, that Nigeria is a safe destination.

‘’As we said earlier, Mr. President, that trip was a product of poor and uncaring leadership, pure and simple. Leaders elsewhere rush home from foreign trips when crises occur in their home countries. In our own case, Mr. President, you had not even taken off when the killings and counter-killings started. Yet you travelled out, a huge entourage in tow, under the guise of assuring some gullible investors. Somebody somewhere is not telling you the truth, Mr. President!’’ it said.

Culled from a Nigerian newspaper, Vanguard

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