Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
One of the most topical issues in Oyo State at present is the asset declaration of Governor Seyi Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is the first governor of the state in the past 20 years that has released his asset declaration form to the public and according to the information contained in it, his assets are worth over N48 billion. Nonetheless, his action has attracted both praise and fierce criticisms. While some say his action is a mark of integrity, his critics insist that rather than applaud, his source of wealth should be probed.
Some stakeholders describe the action as exemplary and a precursor to the type of transparent governance the administration of PDP would lead in the state. But the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is the leading opposition party, sees the public declaration of Makinde’s assets from another perspective. According to the APC, Makinde should not be celebrated yet, until the source of his income has been disclosed.
Some of the pertinent questions that have been asked are: What kind of business did Makinde do before he emerged governor? Where are the places he has worked? The search for answers to the questions prompted taking a brief look at his work history.
Makinde was born on December 25, 1967 and he is an engineer and an expert on fluid and gas metering. He did his National Youth Service (NYSC) with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria where he was later engaged as a pupil engineer. He served in different capacities; handling and partaking in several key projects between 1990 and 1992.
From 1992 to 1997, he worked as a field engineer (Eket operations) for Rebold International Limited and in 1995, he was appointed as field manager in the same company. In 1997, Makinde established his first oil and gas private business -Makon Engineering and Technical Services, (METS), after working for five years – 1992 to 1997, with various international oil and gas companies (IOCs), as the engineering manager. Until August 2018, he served as the Group Managing Director of an indigenous oil and gas company in Nigeria, Makon Group Limited.
At the Ibadan office of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and after Makinde had completed some procedures at the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan, his Chief Press Secretary, Taiwo Adisa, released the details of the asset declaration form to the media which revealed that Makinde was worth over N48billion before May 29, 2019.
The details of the cash at hand and in banks, as well as landed property (developed and undeveloped) that he owns were contained in the assets, which he declared to the CCB. They were listed in Form CCB 1 with the name: Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde, which was declared at the High Court of Oyo State, on May 28, 2019. The assets declaration form, marked OYSE/2019/001, including household items, shares and bonds owned by the governor, his wife, Omini Makinde, as well as his companies.
The governor said the cash at hand and in the bank was worth N234,742,296.01, as at May 28, 2019. In dollar terms, Makinde had cash valued at $30,056.99 as at the same date. Developed and undeveloped property as well as household items indicated on the asset forms, showed that the governor is worth N2,624,800,500 as at the date of asset declaration.
He also developed and undeveloped property as well as household items valued at $4,400,000.
The governor also declared buildings and household items worth R4,457,554 (four million, four hundred and fifty-seven thousand, five hundred and fifty-four and four) South African Rands. The houses declared by Makinde include nine buildings in Nigeria, two in the United States of America and one in South Africa. A property in the United States is described as ‘jointly owned.’
The details showed the current value of Makinde’s companies stand at N48, 150,736,889 with 33, 730,000 units of shares as at May 28, 2019. He also declared existing bonds (Eurobond) worth $3, 793, 500 as well as shares, debentures and other securities valued at N120,500,000.
The companies listed by the governor include Makon Engineering and Technical Services Limited; Energy Traders and Technical Services Limited; Makon Oil and Gas Limited; Makon Group Limited, Makon Construction Limited and Makon Power System Limited.
The asset declaration form indicated that Makinde’s four companies have additional assets denominated as loan notes, including Makon Engineering and Technical Services Limited(N1.7 billion); Makon Power System Limited(N148.4 million); Makon Oil and Gas Limited(N341 million); Energy Traders and Technical Services Limited(N1.159bn) totalling N3.389 billion.
After making his asset declaration public, Makinde said he did it in fulfillment of the promise he made during the campaigns that he would make his assets public and would run a transparent government. He said he wants all the members of his cabinet to do the same thing as long as it stays within the ambit of the law.
Reacting to criticism from the APC about the source of his wealth, he said: “The searchlight is beaming upon me and all my actions are being met with the strictest scrutiny. I know that it is those things that are controversial that will be given more attention. My open declaration of public declaration of assets is generating furor in certain quarters but these are unnecessary distractions. The focus of my administration is on good governance and shall not be distracted.”
The Oyo State APC chairman, Akin Oke, was one of Makinde’s staunchest critics. He said he sees no reason why the governor’s actions should not be celebrated so soon and he challenged the governor to disclose the source of his income.
“This matter raises a number of issues. He just declared what he has but how he came about the asset is not stated. Going by my experience and exposure, I think it is too early to honestly assess a governor just after a few weeks in office. I would rather wait till after 100 days, or even after six months.
“To start assessing people after six weeks in office will be so unfair if one wants to be honest to his conscience.”
After Oke’s outburst, the director of CCB in Oyo State, Moses Atolagbe, said that verification for those who had submitted assets declaration forms would begin when the CCB headquarters gives a directive to that effect. He noted that some people that served in the past administration have not complied with the position of the law on asset declaration, saying: “They are very few in number; some of them are out of the country and others are based on health grounds. They have got in touch with the bureau and one of them showed up on Monday July 15, 2019.
“We will just give them a little oppourtunity, when they don’t comply, they would be prosecuted. We have done that before, a former commissioner in Oyo State in time past had been prosecuted for failure to comply,” Atolagbe said.
Speaking on behalf of the governor, Adisa, told Daily Sun that “the essence of declaring assets in accordance with the laws of the land is to open up the public office holder to the scrutiny of CCB. It’s already implied that assets declared will be verified and if you look at the laws further you will discover that infractions in the asset declaration processes are to be handled by Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). So, verification by the CCB is taken for granted. What is offensive for any member of the APC, especially the state chairman, who refused to encourage his members who just left office declare their assets publicly, to criticise Governor Makinde.”
On the statement credited to CCB office in Ibadan that it is waiting for directives from its headquarters in Abuja to verify Makinde’s assets was needless, Adisa said the CCB does not need to announce the verification. He explained that when bureau verified the assets declared by some former principal officers of Nigeria, it did not announce it was going to investigate them, saying the matters became public knowledge when purported discrepancies were found in their declared assets.
Daily Sun spoke with the publicity secretary of the APC in Oyo, Dr. Azeez Olatunde, and asked why the party insists that Governor Makinde should disclose the source of his wealth. He was also asked to respond to a poser by the Adisa and the PDP on why APC officials that administered the state from 2011 to 2019 did not publicly declare their assets.
Olatunde responded saying: “I cannot say anything on the matter because my chairman has spoken. I can only speak if my chairman has not commented on the issue. I will not deceive you, no member of this party will speak to you on this subject matter because the chairman has spoken, and that is our tradition in the party.”
Daily Sun sought comments from members of the public on what they thought about Makinde’s public declaration of assets the open declaration of assets by Governor Makinde.
Abiodun Afolabi, a newspaper vendor in Ibadan said: “Personally, Governor Makinde has done well. With that singular act, he has curried more support for himself and his administration. I have never heard that any past governor did what Governor Makinde did.
“On the call by the APC chairman that the governor should disclose the source of his income, he who must go to equity must go with clean hands. I think APC should let judgment begin in its house, by calling on its governorship candidate for 2019 general elections to disclose the source of his wealth also.
“Now that Makinde is in power, it is expected that the Code of Conduct Bureau would verify the assets declared by Makinde, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) should be allowed to do their jobs. Nobody should heat up the polity.”