Four days after President Umaru Yar'Adua received a letter from the Citizens for Nigeria, widely publicized by The Guardian and Punch newspapers, he has ceded to the request to declare his assets publicly for the first time in Nigeria's history. For four weeks, the President had hesitated the move, a fact attested to during the declaration announcement by one of his aides.

The CFN had specifically requested in a letter delivered by DHL to Aso Rock: “For Nigerians to appreciate your seriousness to deal with endemic corruption, we ask that you, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, declare your personal worth, release your tax returns for the past three years and ask all your officials to do the same. This, Mr. President, will give you the moral authority to tackle corruption.” In an apparent response, Yar'Adua released to the public photocopies of his completed assets declaration form.

The PUNCH: Group seeks public declaration of Yar’Adua’s assets

Many of the issues raised by the CFN became the highlights of his declaration, including self-empowerment for Yar'Adua against corruption, and being the first to President to take the dive. Read the historic letter which spurred President Yar'Adua into action after four full weeks of indecision:

The Citizens for Nigeria (CFN) is deeply troubled by media accounts of the possibility that within the National Assembly lurks dishonorable fraudsters.  Senator Nuhu Aliyu of Niger State, who raised the fear that some federal lawmakers are known criminals, was ready to immediately release names of the masquerading legislators to the citizens of Nigeria, but was abruptly and inexplicably shut down by the Senate leadership.

Sunday, 17 June 2007 21:14

Probe Obasanjo and Leave None Behind

The Citizens for Nigeria (CFN) welcomes with optimism for the future of Nigeria, the attempt by the National Assembly to find ways through which the former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, has impoverished the nation. It is now public knowledge that the former President is nothing but a pretender, having helped himself, family and cohorts to loot the nation in his eight years in power. However, the CFN is also interested that the dragnet be spread so wide that all those who stole from the national treasury long before now, from anytime of possible record, be publicly scrutinized for fraud. The list should be long, and include all those retired generals, bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen living in unlimited influence and affluence.

Sunday, 17 June 2007 21:14

The War Against Ribadu

\"The Citizens for Nigeria (CFN) calls on all Nigerians to shower their anger over latent and manifest actions of President Umaru Yar\'Adua and his officials to ridicule and consign into obscurity, the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Nuhu Ribadu.

The Yar\'Adua administration has, since its inception, led the world to believe it respected the rule of law and focused on the war against corruption, but has in its actions demonstrated an unmistakable disdain for the symbol of the war, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu. The arrest of the former anti-corruption czar at his graduation from the national policy institute was calculated to humiliate him further; and no matter what the administration may like Nigerians to believe, the nonsense has got to stop now. And it will only stop if Nigerians cry out in annoyance.

President Yar\'Adua is a crafty politician, believe it or not. He knows when to kick the baby in the stomach, and when to cuddle the same baby in a pose of care. That is exactly what he has been doing, not only with Ribadu, but with the war on corruption. While he continues to kick the war in its soft belly, he has also been unrelenting in telling Nigerians the war is stronger than ever. The question is: is the war still strong?

Apparent not!

Do we know on whose side the President is fighting?

Apparent not!

Since Mr. Yar\'Adua came to power, not a single politician has gone to jail for corrupt enrichment. Piles of cases that had matured during Ribadu\'s tenure at the EFCC have been dismantled under the new management of the organization. It is ironic that the crux of the EFCC current annoyance with Ribadu is that the organization does not have the case files on the former governors that had been awaiting trial. No one believes that arguement except the Presidential Palace. There cannot be a lack of evidence to probe the most brazen theft of public funds after only a few years. If there is no evidence, it is because there is no will to find any evidence.

All the governors who had fled the country while Ribadu was after them, have returned home, enjoying their loot in peace and tranquility, courtesy of the relaxed climate for looters provided by the current administration. Kalu, Dariye, Iginedion, Daniel, and Akala can\'t have a more peaceful moment than now since the days of the EFCC. Even Fayose and Alamiyeisegha are claiming to be victims of persecution. The war on corruption has become so confused the nation is watching the looters go free. Under a new management, the EFCC turns a blind eye on the billionaire robbers, and instead goes after school administrators, local government councillors and other petty thieves. The only boast of the EFCC these days is how much money it has recovered, not who it has gone after. All the white collar robbers need to do now is return some money and enjoy the rest. \"Arrangement against corruption\" is now in fashion. The EFCC has forgotten that it\'s not just how much was recovered but the weight of those brought to book that eventually signifies that business as usual is over.

The fact is that this administration, since it\'s choice of Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, as the chief legal officer overseeing the probing of those whom he had stoutly defended against justice, has waged war against corruption from the very beginning.

The CFN had warned this administration from the start not to let the war against corruption fizzle. We wrote President Yar\'Adua, promising to stand by him if he would continue to fight and lend his full support to the activities of the EFCC. At this juncture, we are beyond doubt that President Yar\'Adua is demonstrably opposed to any action that would cause corrupt officials to be prosecuted. It is pathetic that the hope and expectation of all Nigerians that corruption would begin to decline under democratic administrations has been misplaced.

President Yar\'Adua thinks he is smart, and Nigerians are too stupid to read his motives and intents clearly. While he may have calculated correctly to a large extent, a lot of Nigerians are not fooled. We all know this war on corruption is now a gimmick, an act just like the Nigerian Police that does not police anything. The adminstration is setting itself up for opposition and civil action with it\'s in-your-face humiliation of the man whom we all respect, whom we all see as the hope for the future. The about-turn in the face of angry responses by civil groups is not enough. Until Yar\'Adua restores all it has stolen from Nuhu Ribadu, and returns to an honest bid to rid the nation of corrupt people (if that may at all be expected under this administration), instead of claiming to respect the rule of law (which no longer has a clear definitiion), he will continue to stir the anger of right-thinking, honest Nigerians everywhere.

The disrespect for honesty, probity and integrity by this administration has to stop. The nation has been abused for too long. We don\'t need a soft-talking, pretending President to continue the abuse. This is one slap too many. President Yar\'Adua has to be called to order by the civil population. A man for whom the election was awarded should show humiliation or be humiliated. We must rise up and fight for Ribadu, and the many things we have been promised in vain by the weak, do-nothing administration of Mr. Yar\'Adua.

If we fail to fight for Ribadu, we fail to protect our interest, and we kill the nation slowly.

The bold and insensitive dismissal of Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), by the Nigeria Police marks the end of pretention by the Umaru Yar'Adua administration and the beginning of reality and truth regarding what Nigeria is about to become. This president is neither a pathfinder nor a savior, but a protector of the ugly past. It is time for well-meaning Nigerians to wake up from an 18-month slumber to do whatever it would take to crush the stumps of the past before it regrows.

Sunday, 17 June 2007 21:14

Tougher times, ahead, says Fawehinmi

"WE need a very strong President in our country. We need a man who will do what is right for the nation as an entity and for the people. We need a man who will put programmes and policies that will lift the ordinary man from the doldrums of poverty to happiness. We need a man who will stand against all forms of social injustices; the most paramount is corruption." A few of the powerful new year statements from Gani Fawehinmi about the kind of nation Nigeria should be.