President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday challenged Nigerian journalists to be more investigative in their work and look for details of his assets declaration, which he has done four times since 1975, instead of harassing him.
He threw the challenge in Accra, Ghana, during a joint press conference with his host, President John Dramani Mahama, after bilateral talks at the Peduase Lodge in Aburi.
The Nigerian leader was responding to a question from the Ghanaian press on how he could impress it on other African leaders and public office holders to emulate him by making assets declaration a priority in governance.
While acknowledging that Nigeria had ingrained assets decoration by public officials into the Constitution, Buhari said journalists who had been heckling him to publish the details of what he recently declared could do better by just using the law to dig up the records of his four separate declarations on them.
His words: “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 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.
“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.”
On security challenges, the President said the military was gaining ground and lot of progress was being made in the fight against Boko Haram to the extent that the terrorists were now isolated in the Sambisa forest, and would be routed very soon.
He explained that, “the first thing I did after I came into office was to reorganise the military and clear terms 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 severely limited to the Sambisa forest.
“Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who moved out because of insurgency are gradually moving back to their constituencies and they are being integrated into their respective communities.”