An online magazine richestlifestyle.com recently published the ranking of the richest African presidents. The magazine ranked President Goodluck Jonathan 6th. Jonathan, a whole president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a country with the largest economy in Africa, was assessed to have a total worth of $100 million dollars.
The president was furious. Speaking through his spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, he called the idea that he is worth $100 million dollars false. “As is well known, President Jonathan has never been a businessman or entrepreneur, but a life-long public servant,” Abati argues. “The President has held public office since 1999 and has regularly declared his assets as required by Nigerian laws. He has had no personal income since 1999 other than his official remuneration as deputy governor, governor, vice president, acting president and president which are matters of public record.”
But what is President Jonathan’s worth? That question still needs to be answered.
Since the president will not just tell us and save us and save himself the headache, we will calculate it for him.
But before we do so, lets look at what the law about declaration of assets says.
The Nigerian constitution requires that top government officials declare their assets before they are sworn into office. President Jonathan did not do so when he was sworn in on May 29, 2011. Nigerians had to huff and puff for months. During one media chat when the question was put to him that Nigerians were worried that he was disobeying the constitution by not declaring his assets as at when due, the president said he did not give a damn.
Eighteen months after, while nobody was looking, President Goodluck Jonathan declared his assets. We know this because on September 24th, 2012, the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Dr. Sam Saba, speaking through Alhaji Ibrahim Manzo, the Federal Commissioner representing North West in the Bureau, brought the good news to the media.
At that event, Saba reiterated that no law said that the President should declare his assets publicly. Saba also added, “What is important is that he has declared his assets and when we go through his form and we discover any area that is questionable, then we will take him to court.”
This was on September 24th, 2012. At that time the Code of Conduct Bureau was yet to go through President Jonathan’s form. Which was how we determined that it was sent to them around that time. And since we have not heard from Mr. Saba, over two years after, we can safely assume that he went through the forms and found nothing questionable that would require him to take the president to court as he promised in that speech at a Compliance Training Workshop for Public Officers in Abuja.
What President Jonathan declared is secret, sealed and locked away in the office of Code of Conduct Bureau. The presidency insists that the constitution did not require that he makes his declaration public. The chairman of Code of Conduct Bureau on his part asked those who want to know what is in the president’s declaration form to invoke the Freedom of Information Act.
Paragraph 3, Part I of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, provides that the Code of Conduct Bureau shall have power to: (a) receive declarations by public officers made under paragraph 12 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule to this Constitution; (b) examine the declarations in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct or any law; (c) retain custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.
The next option left for Nigerians who wish to know the content of the president’s declaration forms was to invoke Schedule (c) which says that the Code of Conduct Bureau retains custody of such declarations and make them available for inspection by any citizen of Nigeria on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.
In October of 2011, the African Center for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) dragged the Code of Conduct Bureau to court for failing to release to the public the asset declaration of the president. AFRICMIL had in July of 2011 sent a Freedom of Information request “to be allowed to inspect and obtain copies of the 2007 asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; the asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan after the end of his tenure on May 28, 2011; and the current asset declaration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan when he assumed office on May 29, 2011.”
As expected, nothing has come out of it.
Whatever the constitution says, and whatever interpretation President Jonathan’s men give it, the gold standard has always been for government officials to make their asset declaration public on taking over office.
President Umaru Yar’Adua did that. He also compelled the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to do the same- something he did a day after he was sworn in.
Despite Jonathan’s refusal to follow best practice in 2011 and his fury at Richestlifestyle.com’s partners who did the calculations for him, we will, together, try to do the calculation on these pages.
So let us start our calculation from the declaration President Jonathan made in 2007 when he was Vice President under the government of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
As at 2007, President Jonathan under oath stated that the value of his assets was N295,304,420.00. At that time, the figure was N561,148,472.00 less than what President Umaru Yar’Adua declared – which was N857,452,892.00
Now note that Jonathan and Yar’Adua came from similar background. They were university teachers before they joined the government as political appointees and later full time politicians. Yar’Adua was governor of Kastina state for 8 years before he became President while Jonathan was deputy governor of Bayelsa for 6 years and governor for 2 years before he became Vice President of Nigeria. Other than Yar’Adua coming from a well-off family, the real difference comes in how long they were at the helm in their respective states. But because Yar’Adua was in control of Kastina state, a relatively poor state compared to Jonathan’s Bayelsa state, the difference in their assets as declared in 2007 was understandable.
When Jonathan made his assets declaration in 2007, his spokesman then, Mr. Ima Niboro said that by doing so the president had shown that “there is nothing to hide.” He also stated that the then Vice President was a firm believer in the rule of law which Niboro said had guided Jonathan in his conduct in office through the years.
Makes you wonder what happened to the president’s belief in recent years. Did he suddenly have things to hide? Or did he suddenly find that the rule of law has an exaggerated importance?
Based on the declaration made by Jonathan in 2007, he had four buildings located in Yenegoa, Abuja and his home town in Ogbia, Bayelsa state.
He said that he owned a five bedroom duplex in Gwarimpa 11, Abuja. The building he said was acquired in 2003 through loan and was valued at N24,990,000.00 Another seven bedroom duplex located at Otuoke in Ogbia Local government area of Bayelsa state was valued at N18,000, 000.00 and was acquired through ‘savings and gifts in kind.“
Jonathan declared another four bedroom duplex acquired in 2003 through ‘savings and gift in kind’ in the Kpansia area of Yenegoa. The value of the building was N15,000,000.00 The last building is four flat storey house acquired between 2003 and 2007 through savings, he reported. The value of the property was put at N10,000,000.00
Under vacant and undeveloped plots, the then vice president stated as follows: “1032.50 square meter of land located at Onopa Yenegoa and valued at N3,098.00. Plot 2C, 374 Low density Area Yenegoa allocated by the Bayelsa state government and valued at N150,000.00. 2760.00 square meter plot at cadastral Zone BO2, Durumi, Abuja, allocated by the Federal Capital Development Authority and valued at N5,578,540.00. One Parcel of farm Land at Otuoke Ogbia acquired through inheritance and estimated at the value of N50,000,000.00
Plot Medium Density in Yenegoa allocated by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing the valued at N1550.00
Plot 29, Low density Area Plot in Yenegoa allocated by the Bayelsa state government the value of which was put at N4,908.00. While the last undeveloped plot owned by the then vice president is plot 2246 Cadastral Zone A06, Abuja, the value of which he put at N4, 800,000.00. It was allocated by the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA.
The declaration stated that the then Vice president’s investment in stocks which was being managed by City Code Investment Company was as follows.
S/No Name of Stock Number Of Shares Value As At 5/25/07
1 CADBURY PLC 8,666 N264,313.00
2 FLOUR MILLS PLC 8,466 N635,119.32
3 GUINESS NIG. PLC 6,395 N796,177.50
4 UNILEVER 18,750 N337,500.00
5 UNION BANK OF NIG. PLC 23,466 N727,446.00
6 FIDELITY BANK PLC 33,333 N296,663.70
7 UBA PLC 180,000 N6,838,200.00
8 ACCESS BANK PLC 84,656 N1,635,553.92
9 CADBURY PLC 2,500 N76,250.00
10 UNION BANK PLC 716,109 N22,199,379.00
11 FIRST BANK PLC 20,000 N808,000.00
12 FLOUR MILLS PLC 13,333 N1,000,241.66.00
13 NIGERIAN BREWERIES PLC 10,000 N363,000.00
14 BANK PHB PLC 866,666 N24,959,980.80
15 OANDO 15,125 N1,134,375.00
TOTAL 2,007,465 N62,072,200.00
Other investments include 4nos passenger boats for hiring which was valued at N5, 260,000.00 while the total cash in Nigerian banks being personal saving of salaries/allowances and income from his investments stood at N58, 984,123.00
The vice president households utensils including generators, a BMW car valued at N15, 800,000.00 which he said was a gift; air conditioners, furniture, electronics and kitchen utensils were valued at N41,800,000. 00
Looking at the figures above and considering capital gains, appreciations of properties in Abuja and the new university town of Otuoke and depreciation, a very very conservative estimate placed the assets as declared in 2007, seven years ago, to be at least five times what it was then. That is very conservative considering that last year alone, the Nigerian stock market delivered a return of 47%.
So the assets declared in 2007 at N295,304,420.00 will today be worth N1,476,522,100.00 which is about $9.0 million USD.
President Jonathan was Vice President for three years (2007-2010). As Vice President we believe that his salaries and allowances and security vote could not be lower than what a senator takes home in Nigeria each year. Without adding bribes to pass bills and unaccounted constituency allocations, a Nigerian senator takes home $1.4 million each year. The senate president, the number 3 man in Nigeria takes home at least twice that, which is $2.8 million. In fact, it is safe to assume that the perks that come with the office of the Vice President guarantees that the occupant makes more money than governors of states. But just to continue to be conservative in our calculation, let us say that his remunerations as Vice President came up to twice what the senate president takes home each year. So Jonathan would have added $5.6 million a year.
In three years that would become $17.4 million dollars.
In 2010, Jonathan became the Acting President following the death of Yar’Adua. What it meant was a total takeover of the nation’s treasury. If he was getting as Vice President N1 billion a year as security vote, it became at least ten times the amount. We know this going by the discrepancy in what governors get and what their deputies get in security votes. On average, a Nigerian governor gets N250 million a month for security vote ie N3 billion a year while their deputies get about N300 million a year. Jonathan’s base salary, allowances, estacodes and other numerous pays also increased in a significant way.
Continuing with our conservative calculation, instead of multiplying his pay as Vice President by ten, we will simply multiply it by two. So, for the next one year as acting president, 2010 – 2011, Jonathan probably made $11.2 million dollars.
So as Acting President, he added $11.2 million dollars to his assets.
In April 2011, he ran for a full term and won. He became a president in his own right with absolute control of the government. Two weeks later, on April 29, 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan secretly approved the transfer of $1.1 billion to the London account of Malabu Oil and Gas owned by former Minister of Petroleum and a convicted money launderer, Dan Etete and Sani Abacha’s son, Mohammed. The money came from funds paid to the Federal Government by two multinational companies; Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited and Shell Nigeria as part of the settlement of the Malabu oil block case between the Federal Government, Malabu and the two multinational oil companies. As soon as the money got into the account of Malabu Oil in London it was wired to secret accounts of cronies and some political associates of President Jonathan.
Without implying that Jonathan benefited in any way, we know from his 2007 assets declaration that a lot of money he used to purchase assets he declared came in form of “gifts in kind.” At this point, it is safe to assume that the game changed and the money being dealt with had turned into billions.
As full president, Jonathan’s salaries, allowances and security votes should be obviously higher than what he made as acting president. With traveling cost in billions of naira and feeding allowance hovering around one billion, the president remuneration could be as high as five times what it was as acting president. But thinking along the same conservative line, we say that he was getting twice the amount he made as acting president. So that would be $11.2 x 2 = $22.4 million a year.
In four years, that money would be $22.4 x 4= $89.6 million dollars.
So to add up without factoring in compound interests:
His 2007 assets of N295,304,420.00 will today be worth N1,476,522,100.00 which is about $9.0 million USD.
His earnings as Vice President is $17.4 million dollars.
His earnings as acting president is $11.2 million dollars.
His earning as President is $89.6 million dollars.
So his total worth in assets will be $127.2 million dollars by the time he leaves office on May 29, 2015.
Now that is a very very conservative estimate. It does not take into account numerous gifts in kind and in cash, like the Anglican Church in Otuoke renovated and donated to President Jonathan by an Italian construction company, Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Ltd.
The Nigerian people are mature enough to deal with any figure public officials announce as their assets. Nobody in Anambra state lost their minds when Gov. Andy Uba declared N1 trillion naira assets in what is now known as anticipatory declaration of what he hoped to acquire in office. Nigerians are not going to hit the streets in protest because a president or a governor or local government chairman announced an insane amount. Instead, what is insane is the belief that Nigerians will think the president is poor because he refused to make public his asset declaration.
President Goodluck Jonathan came to Abuja from Yenagoa with a cloud of corruption hanging on his head like a question mark. Any reasonable person would have thought that he would be the one to embrace transparency, accountability and openness. Aversion to best practices and embrace of mediocrity have continued to crush any hope of real advancement in Nigeria.
The real shame is not that President Jonathan got away with not declaring his assets as at when the constitution required. And it is not that he will not declare his assets publicly. The shame is that we, as Nigerian people, do not know how much our president is paid, how much he costs us and how much he is worth. Not knowing that forecloses any chance of us knowing how much leaks out of our system into the pockets of government officials at every level.
In the meantime, now that you have joined me in calculating President Goodluck Jonathan’s assets, be ready to be sued by the president for libel.