A civil society organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sent an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, General Muhammadu Buhari and other presidential candidates asking them to make “a clear and unequivocal commitment to uphold and implement a seven-point anti-corruption and human rights programme in your political policies if elected.”
Other presidential candidates which the CSO said should pledge the commitment include: Chekwas Okorie, United Peoples Party (UPP); Oluremi Sonaiya, Kowa Party; Nani Ibrahim Ahmad, African Democratic Congress (ADC); Ambrose Albert, Hope Democratic Party (HDP); Martin Onovo, National Conscience Party (NCP); and Ganiyu O. Galadima, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).
In the letter dated January 16 and signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said: “We believe that the forthcoming presidential election holds the potential to usher in changes in the way that Nigeria enforces and implements its human rights and anticorruption commitments. We urge you to clearly and unequivocally commit to concrete human rights reforms to end the increasing level of corruption and the impunity of perpetrators.”
According to the organisation, “Evasive and obfuscatory commitments by politicians undermine transparency and accountability of elected public officials and contribute to bad governance. By making a clear and unequivocal commitment to implement the proposed seven-point program, Nigerians will be able to make an informed and unbiased decision to vote for issues and not personalities. They will also be able to compare what you are promising to do and what you actually do while in the office.”
“We believe that the president after the election must come to term with the reality of massive high-level official corruption, and the devastation and suffering it has caused millions of innocent Nigerians,” the organisation said.
The seven-point programme read in part: “We ask you to demonstrate your total rejection of corruption by publicly declaring your assets ahead of the election. Nigerians are not prepared to trust a would-be president that is unwilling to come clean and be straight with them. We also ask you to make a clear and unequivocal commitment to recover all stolen public funds since the return of democracy in 1999 and to spend the funds on projects that can ensure respect for basic socio-economic rights of all Nigerians”
“We ask you to clearly and unequivocally commit that if elected your government will cut-down unnecessary and wasteful expenses in particular that spending on presidential jets, on foreign and local trips, on meals and refreshment, and on fuelling generators will be drastically cut and that the savings will be used for better projects that can add value to good governance and improve the conditions of millions of Nigerians living in poverty.
“We ask you to commit to ensuring that within six months in office that allegations of corruption in spending on military equipment will be fully investigated and suspected perpetrators brought to justice. We believe that transparency and accountability in the management of funds meant to end the problem of Boko Haram is key to efficient and effective security forces capable of responding to Nigerians’ legitimate security needs. We ask you to tell Nigerians what you would do to promote transparency and accountability in military spending and ensure that the conflict in the north-east is swiftly and satisfactorily brought to an end.”
“We ask you to make a clear and unequivocal commitment to within six months of assumption of office, to begin to resolve all outstanding cases of high level official corruption, in particular, cases of corruption in the aviation, oil subsidy scandal, alleged mismanagement of trillions of Naira by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), missing N300 billion in the petroleum ministry since 2011, the KPMG report involving large-scale corruption in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the missing $20 billion from the account of the NNPC, and the missing $12.4 billion oil windfall during the Babangida administration.
“We ask you to tell Nigerians that within your first 100 days in government, you will lead the process to domesticate and effectively implement the UN Convention against Corruption within the legal system. We also ask you to commit to ensuring a robust and effective whistle-blowers’ law, and to establishing a politically independent and well-resourced anticorruption commission with potent and effective prosecutorial powers. We ask you to commit to non-interference in the work of the anticorruption commissions and agencies.”
According to the group, “We ask you to commit to ensuring within 1 year of your government the inclusion of legally enforceable economic, social and cultural rights in the Nigerian Constitution. We believe that the entrenched legacy of poverty and inequality in the country requires far-reaching positive and redistributive measures in areas such as education, housing, health care, water reform and social security. Without such measures the socio-economic legacy of the past would be perpetuated and continue to generate classes of people marginalised from full participation in our fragile democracy.
“We ask you to publicly commit to the full and effective implementation of courts’ judgments in particular the ECOWAS Court right to free education judgment, and the ECOWAS Court Niger Delta oil pollution judgment.
“We ask you to lead the process to bring the constitution, alongside all other national laws, into line with the standards set forth in international human rights law, including the UN Convention against Corruption, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.”
“It is clear that the lack of accountable leadership – together with the deficit of transparency in the management of public finances and public spending –has continued to exacerbate the country’s growing poverty and underdevelopment,” the organization added.
According to the organisation, “The evidence of corruption and underdevelopment is indeed staring the country in the face. Hospitals without drugs, bad roads, poor electricity supply, contaminated and undrinkable water, collapsed educational system alone provide strong evidence of the devastation that the stealing of public funds have done to this country.”