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General News
I Will Be The First To Say Yes To Assets Declaration’ 7/19/2007
Former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party and leading member of the NPP, Dan Kwaku Botwe, has stated that the culture that allowed assets declaration only to remain in the nation''s statute books while politicians entered and left the political scene, without accounting to the people must become a thing of the past.

Dan Botwe, also former Minister of Information and Head of the NPP''s Research Department, was reacting to the stunning declaration of assets on the part of the Nigerian Head of State Umaru Yar'' Adua and his public declaration of commitment to fighting corruption in Nigeria, as well as his pledge to run a clean political administration.

Contributing to the debate, Dan said he was not happy about the culture that allowed people to begin and end their political career unquestioned, only to allow later “volcanic interventions to decide their fate,” sometimes, long after those leaders have left the political scene.

“He (Umaru Yar-Ardua) has set the tone which all African leaders should do well to follow, particularly, when we are working on frameworks to put in place an African Union Parliament; and also reform institutions of governance to enhance democracy and good governance in the various nation states on the Continent,” he said.

As a way forward, Dan Botwe also highlighted the need for institutional reforms in Africa''s body politic and governance systems to check corruption at various points along the system before politicians or appointees make away with so much wealth, only for the fraudulent act to be noticed at a time it would have become difficult for the State to prosecute such individuals without creating a martyr complex around them.

“From day one till a person leaves office, we should be able to track his activities and incomes and ensure that all loop holes are tightened to deter culprits from taking advantage of their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of the State. And this should be done so meticulously that we would not even feel the need to bring back appointees to account when they have left office.”

Indicating how serious he is with keeping politicians in check and reducing corruption in public life, he observed that it is sad that after MPs, Ministers, DCEs and other appointees file their assets declaration forms, there is not even any clear laid down mechanism for ensuring that what appears in the documents reflect the truth.

“The sad aspect is that they are hardly certified and published for people to make judgments on it or challenge it,” Dan Botwe lamented. He also stated that non-compliance of the assets declaration law leads to all sorts of speculation and rumours when later appointees are seen living opulent lifestyles.

“We should put preventive and deterrent measures in place so that these rumours and accusations will be minimised on the outset before we start crucifying people on the wrong notions and assumptions,” he urged.

As a flagbearer aspirant of the NPP, who hopes to be President, he said his vision is for a national leadership that would be committed to honest work and which would spend its energies achieving results. “And as leader, I would be the first to declare my assets and impress on my Ministers, all MPs and all other appointees to do the same...

When we set that example, and the institutional measures of prevention and deterrent are firmly put in place, it shouldn''t be difficult for the nation to move forward without unnecessary speculation and noises being made about this or that person being corrupt...Because the system would be working…It is only here in these parts of the world that people tend to make corruption a campaign issue, all because the system has not been tightened.

But if we tighten it up, there will be no need for witch-hunting on the part of anybody, whether that person is in government or opposition. And when the system works perfectly at every level, you would be found out in no time, before you leave office, if you as a public official or political appointee, have cheated the system,” he stressed.

G. Observer

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