President Muhammadu Buhari has said that governors, ministers and top civil servants must declare their assets.
Buhari said the imperative for elected public officials and top civil servants in the category of permanent secretaries was a constitutional obligation.
The president, who had last week made public his assets, threw the challenge in Accra, Ghana, yesterday where he had gone on a one-day working visit to President John Dramani Mahama.
The Nigerian leader was responding to a question from the Ghanaian press during a joint press conference with Mahama after bilateral talks at the Peduase Lodge in Aburi on how he could impress it on other African leaders and public office holders to emulate him by making assets declaration a priority in governance.
Buhari said assets declaration had been engrained in the Nigerian Constitution, saying he had done such four times since 1975 that he had served the country in various capacities.
His words: “I recall that in 1975 when late Murtala Mohammed became the Head of State, we were lined up in the corridor – governors, ministers, members of the Supreme Military Council – and officials of Ministry of Justice were brought and every individual was made to declare his assets.
“So right now, all heads of state and government, governors, ministers, permanent secretaries will have to declare their assets because it is a constitutional requirement.
“In Nigeria, it is a constitutional issue and that is why I am blaming you gentlemen of the press. If you really want to do investigative journalism, you don’t have to worry me at this stage; I have declared my assets four times.
“When I was governor in 1975, I declared. After being Minister of Petroleum and as a member of Supreme Military Council, I declared. When I was Head of State and now as a President, I also declared.
“I have declared my assets and all that I have four times, and you (the media) have the right to go and demand for my declaration. Instead, I am being harassed.”
Buhari also challenged Nigerian journalists to go and look for details of his assets declaration instead of harassing him with further questions.
He said since he had declared his assets four times since 1975 that he had served in different capacities in the country, the journalists could be more investigative in their work if they could fish out the details.
Buhari said journalists who had been heckling him to publish the details of what he recently declared could do better by just using the law to dig up the records of his four separate declarations since 1975.
On security challenges, the president said the military was gaining ground and lot of progress was being made on the fight against Boko Haram to the extent that the terrorists were now isolated in the Sambisa forest, and would be routed very soon.
He said: “The first thing I did after I came into office was to re-organise the military and clear terms were given to them in terms of retraining, re-equipping and redeployment of troops.
“In the north-east, the military is gaining ground and Boko Haram has been severely limited to the Sambisa Forest.
“Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who moved out because of insurgency are gradually moving back to their constituencies and they are being integrated into their respective communities.”
He further assured the public that he would unveil other members of his cabinet before the end of September this year, failure of which Nigerians could then start to ask him questions.
“After I was sworn-in, I said I would have my cabinet in September and I expect that Nigerians should ask me questions after the 30th of September if I do not do that,” he stressed.
In his remarks, President Mahama commended Buhari’s efforts at galvanising West African nations to support their Lake Chad Basin counterparts to quash Boko Haram through the Multinational Joint Task Force.
He pledged to ensure Ghana plays her part well, including sharing relevant military intelligence with Nigerian authorities.
On the difficulties faced by Nigerians doing business in Ghana, Mahama explained that the law requiring them to pay capital/registration levy of $300,000 would be amended by the Ghanaian parliament as soon as the already approved biometric registration of ECOWAS traders, which begins next year, is completed.