Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Presidency and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revd Matthew Hassan Kukah, yesterday, were embroiled in a verbal exchange over President Muhammadu Buhari asset declaration.
The venue was the public presentation and launch of a book: ‘Farida Waziri: One Step Ahead – Life as a Spy, Detective and Anti-Graft Czar’ written by the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Kukah who was guest speaker and was represented by the Director of Catholic Television, Fr. Patrick Alumuku, while concluding his lecture, said: “On a final note, let me ask two or three questions that I have heard being asked. First, is it in the law that the Chairman of EFCC must be from the Police Force and a Muslim from northern Nigeria? Two, people have asked, how is it that the president used Justice Onnoghen’s asset declaration form to prove his corruption and proceed to sack him, yet the president himself has not publicly declared his own assets as he promised during his campaigns? Thirdly, why has Mr. Magu not been confirmed as EFCC chairman and what is the state of the trial of those who attempted to kill him in December 2017?”
But Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, who was the book reviewer, demanded that Bishop Kukah produce evidence of where President Buhari promised to publicly declare his assets if elected president.
“I remember that I was appointed on May 31, 2015, and when I resumed work on June 1, 2015, in a private meeting with the president, one of the first questions I asked him was this promise about public declaration of assets. ‘When are you doing it?’ “And then he asked me, ‘Can you please show me where that promise was ever made?’ And low and behold, we searched everywhere, there was no place where the president ever said he will do a public declaration and he told me. ‘What does the law require? The law requires you to declare your asset and that is what I will do.’ Yet, since that year, they keep repeating it that he promised a public declaration.
“Sir, can you tell Bishop Kukah that I challenge him to produce that promise by the president because the president stands by it till tomorrow that he never promised a public declaration.
“In 2015, he made his asset public. In 2019, he has declared, he has chosen not to go public. He has not broken any law. So, please let’s not continue to repeat what is untrue, what is inexactitude,” Adesina said.
Adesina said Waziri’s book chronicled how her name popped up for consideration as EFCC chairman, her many exploratory meetings with late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, her appointment, and the battles she fought with those determined to bring her down.”
Delivering the lecture, Kukah said he believed that every public officer who has had a chance to hold public services owed the citizens an account of their experiences.
Kukah added that very often, people feared that they did not wish to ruffle feathers, but the absence of the records of their experiences meant that in future, the birds will not even have any feathers at all.
“It consigns our nation to repeating the same mistakes, it allows too many demagogues to parade themselves as heroes. It allows those who ran away from the war to claim that they led the war and things get even worse when they pass on and take the libraries of their knowledge to feed the ants in their graves,” Kukah said.
Focussing on graft, Kukah said corruption was not a physical thing that the nation can fight or defeat.
He said if the nation cast its metaphor within the concept of a fight, it meant the nation must contemplate the possibility of losing the fight, or it may be a draw and the nation will have to fight another day.