Popular Economist and Public Affairs Commentator, Professor Pat Utomi has said that politicians should not be ashamed of declaring their wealth.
In an interview with Vanguard, Utomi explained that the issue of assets declaration is not if you have the money but how you made such money.
He said “Personally, I have always favoured declaration of assets. I do not think I am adding anything new to the argument. If one has money, he should not be ashamed of it. It is as if people are afraid there may be accusation on why are they rich. The issue of declaration is not if you have money but how one made such money. If you ask me, I will show you how I earned every naira I own today. I should be ashamed that I have money? As an individual, I have not been referred to as that rich man but no one has called me a poor man.
“This is because I am one of the biggest developers of entrepreneurs in this country. Considering the number of the entrepreneurs I have helped, I should be a billionaire in dollars. I would have created companies that should be making billions of dollars today with people. And that was why I wrote a book titled, “Business Angel as a Missionary.”
“I think what people are scared of is the asset of the president, believing that if they have more than that, they could be labelled as corrupt officials. Everyone should declare his assets. They should be able to show us where they made wealth. But if they cannot show it to the public, then such persons are thieves. They should come out boldly.”
He also urged journalists to use the freedom of information act to get an explanation on how assets were acquired when politicians declare their assets.
“Though it is a personal thing; some may come out, others may not because they don’t want people to know their worth or for security reasons. If that is their fear (security), one needs to respect it. And one can access the information using the Freedom of Information Act. One can choose to respect their will not to be exposed if there is a clear statement of how their money was made. But if there is no clear statement, then the journalist can use the tool at his disposal to pursue their explanation, he added.
Furthermore, Chairman of the 2014 National Conference Convocation Committee Senator Femi Okunrounmu has also accused politicians of declaring false assets.
Okunrounmu said this while interacting with journalists on the sidelines of the 80th birthday celebration of the founder of the Oodu’a Peoples Congress, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, in Lagos.
He said “It should cover all the people who are guilty, not just target a few individuals. Ninety per cent of politicians declare assets falsely, so the law should go after all the people that are guilty of such false declaration of assets, try them and bring them to justice. They should not just target one or two people.”