Ahead of next year’s presidential elections, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter directed to all the presidential candidates.
In the letter, the organization urged all the candidates to publish details of their assets and liabilities. In addition, they urged all candidates to publicly commit to rejecting vote-buying and electoral bribery before and during the elections.
The open letter dated June 11, 2022 was signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare. In the letter, the organization said while there was no constitutional requirement for presidential candidates to publish their assets and liabilities before elections, “doing so would show that you can stand up for transparency in assets declaration by public officers if elected.”
The letter read in part,
“Publicly committing to these issues will also show the voters that if elected you would act solely to protect the public interest; and avoid placing yourself under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence you in the discharge of your constitutional duties.
“It would also show that you would be accountable to the public for your actions and submit yourself to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
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“Your public commitment to these issues will also demonstrate to the voters that if elected you would act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner, and that you would not withhold information from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
“Now is the time to show the voters that it will be no business as usual, and to make a public commitment on issues that if addressed would strengthen Nigeria’s anti-corruption and human rights records, and improve access of Nigerians to public goods and services.
“SERAP also urges you to publicly commit to probing the spending of security votes since the return of democracy in 1999, and widely publishing details of spending of security votes; finding the missing N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply for Nigerians; as well as obeying court orders and the rule of law if elected. Widely publishing your assets before the elections would also show your principled stand on transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s resources.
“Making asset declarations open would ensure that leaders do not abuse their powers for personal gain and allow civil society to hold leaders to account. If leaders are seen to live beyond their means, an asset declaration can be a starting point for investigations.”