President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday told journalists in Accra, Ghana, that he had declared his assets four times since 1975 and challenged the newsmen to investigate the details of his possession.
Buhari asked journalists to use the required law to dig up the records of his four separate asset declarations.
He said, “I recall that in 1975 when late Murtala Mohammed became the Head of State, we were lined up in the corridor – governors, ministers, members of the Supreme Military Council – and officials of the Ministry of Justice were brought and every individual was made to declare his assets.
“So right now, all heads of state and government, governors, ministers, permanent secretaries will have to declare their assets because it is a constitutional requirement.”
The President said it was a constitutional requirement that public officers declare their assets.
He said, “In Nigeria, it is a constitutional issue and that is why I am blaming you gentlemen of the press. If you really want to do investigative journalism, you don’t have to worry me at this stage; I have declared my assets four times.
“When I was governor in 1975, I declared. After being Minister of Petroleum and as a member of Supreme Military Council, I declared. When I was Head of State and now as a President, I also declared.
“I have declared my assets and all that I have four times, and you (the media) have the right to go and demand for my declaration. Instead, I am being harassed.”
Also at a joint press conference with the Ghanian President John Mahama in Accra, Buhari said that he would name his cabinet before the end of this month.
The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, quoted his principal as saying, “After I was sworn-in, I said I will have my cabinet in September. I expect that Nigerians should ask me questions after the 30th of September if I do not do so,”
The President was responding to a question on the appointment of ministers.
He spoke amid concern that he might not name his cabinet this month because the National Assembly would resume from its recess at the end of the month.
The President also said that the Nigerian military, in collaboration with the Multi-National Joint Task Force, had recorded remarkable progress in the fight against Boko Haram since he assumed office.
He stated, “The first thing I did after I came into office was to reorganise the military and clear orders were given to them in terms of retraining, re-equipping and redeployment of troops.
“In the North-East, the military is gaining ground and Boko Haram has been limited to the Sambisa Forest.
“Internally Displaced Persons are gradually moving back home and they are being reintegrated into their respective communities.”
Mahama had said both leaders had fruitful discussions on how to enhance bilateral relations and improve regional security.
He said that Nigeria and Ghana would soon begin the process of reviving their joint commission for cooperation.
The Ghanaian President added that both leaders also agreed to encourage closer cooperation between the intelligence and anti-graft agencies of both countries.
He thanked President Buhari for his visit and assured him of Ghana’s support and cooperation with Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.
In a separate interview with the editor, BBC Hausa, Mansur Liman, Buhari said culprits in the theft of the country’s crude oil in the last few years would be named and prosecuted soon.
The President said top management personnel of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation could not feign ignorance of the goings-on in the corporation in the last 10 years.
Buhari, who spoke in an interview with the editor, BBC Hausa, Mansur Liman, said, “I am very pleased with the reorganisation, we are getting a lot of results, which we hope in a couple of months’ time we can make clear disclosures and start to prosecute those that had been stealing the crude.
“Those who have been in charge of NNPC at top level can’t claim ignorance of what has been happening in the last 10 years. And the companies include the shipping companies, which allowed themselves to be used to lift illegal crude from Nigeria or to change at high sea or head to a different destination.”
There had been allegations that the NNPC failed to remit N3.8tn to the Federation Account and allegedly stole 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day under the previous administration.
The NNPC, under the new Group Managing Director, Ibe Kachikwu, had last month announced the cancellation of the contract for the delivery of crude oil to the nation’s refineries in Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.
The government’s oil corporation also announced the termination of the Offshore Processing Agreements entered into in January, 2015, with three companiesp: Duke Oil Company Inc., Aiteo Energy Resources Limited and Sahara Energy Resources Limited.
Under the terminated agreement, NNPC was allocating a total of 210,000 barrels of crude oil per day for refining at offshore locations in exchange for petroleum products at pre-agreed yield pattern.
According to the corporation, the decision to cancel the oil delivery contracts to refineries was taken after proper evaluation of the contract terms.
On the OPA arrangement, the firm said the current agreement was not in the interest of Nigeria and the national oil firm, a development that led to its cancellation.
The NNPC also observed that the structure of the agreement did not guarantee unimpeded supply of petroleum products as delivery terms were not optimal.
To address these lapses, the NNPC informed that it had commenced the process of establishing alternative OPA based on optimum yield pattern with tender processing fees.