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FENRAD writes 18 political parties in Abia, asks guber candidates to declare assets

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Foundation For Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD), has written to the 18 political parties in Abia State, asking them to urge their various gubernatorial candidates to declare their assets.

The group in a statement by its executive director, comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, emphasized that in the interest of accountability and transparency, it is appropriate for all the gubernatorial candidates aspiring for governorship position under the support of the registered 18 political parties in the state to make this disclosure.

Nwafor however, maintained that the call for the disclosure was informed by the current economic realities facing Abia State which require aspirants to prove that when elected the resources of the state will be managed judiciously and due process followed with mechanism for Accountability.

Part of the statement reads, “In respect of the subject matter hereinabove mentioned, Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD a pro-democracy,anti corruption & human rights advocacy group based in Abia State writes you the respective Gubernatorial candidates of the Political parties in Abia state ask that you avail Abians a copy of your asset declaration form from Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB as is consistent with the law of the federation (Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended).

“It is our thinking that it is appropriate for all the gubernatorial candidates aspiring for governorship position under the support of the registered 18 political parties in the state to make this disclosure in the interest of accountability and transparency. This letter was informed by the current economic realities confronting Abia State, which, to us, require that aspirants show that when elected the resources of the state will be managed effectively and due process followed with mechanism for Accountability.

“Currently, Abia has fallen on hard times, in a manner not known before.The situation was compounded by the fall in oil price following the pandemic.Even though oil price had since risen following the war in Ukraine, Nigeria is not able to rake in revenue due to subsidy payment, oil theft and sundry issues that have made the NNPC (now a limited company) unable to remit to the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC. Worst is, Abia, in the face of all these, has not upped its independent source of revenue to at least ₦5 billion monthly, an idea FENRAD thinks is possible should the state expand its tax base (not by introducing new or increasing payable taxes), build infrastructure, integrate informal sector businesses and look more inward. The result is that deficits and shortfalls continue to constrain and hamper budgetary performance.

“According to Debt Management Office, DMO, by end of June, 2022, ie Q2, Abia’s debt stock has hit an all-time high of ₦107, 619, 057, 499.23 K (one hundred and seven billion, six-hundred and nineteen million, fifty-seven thousand, four hundred and ninety-nine naira twenty-three Kobo), yet, Abia cannot measure up in critical areas like those of infrastructure.

“Issue of non payment of salaries and wages for which some tertiary state institutions lost its accreditation .Only few months ago, senior citizens took to the streets to drive home their demands over a twenty-year outstanding gratuity arrears. State parastatals and institutions like Abia State University Teaching Hospital and so many others had remained shut down because of poor funding.Most recently the Nigeria medical Association threatened strike in solidarity to residents Doctors in the state due to backlog of unpaid salaries and wages.

“Abia state past administrations since 1999 are still answering cases of corruption with the Economic & Financial Crimes commission (EFCC over issues of misappropriation of public funds and fiscal recklessness.

“It is our considered opinion that Abia state cannot continue in her old ways. So we call on all Gubernatorial political aspirants for the 2023 elections, including you, to do the needful. Even though this exercise (asset declaration) should come upon assumption of office but is submitted during expression of interest to contest for the position..we wish to remind you that it is needful and will go a long way making a case for your integrity and accountability. It is also the basis on which FENRAD as an anti corruption advocacy organization and other civil society groups in Abia will make informed political decisions going forward.

“While this is the case, we urge that you make available information also all the assets belonging to your wife,husband (applicable for female candidate ) children under the age of 18, as is the requirement of the law. We shall continue to spotlight this issue again and again even after the elections.

“We do this hoping you understand that the next adminstration, from governor to the least office, represents the last hope of Ndị Abia and her future generations.

“FENRAD will be ready to enter into full litigation in line with the anti corruption instruments and will join the Code of conduct bureau (CCB) if the Asset declarations process is not adhered according to the provision in the law.”

 

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