Is it too much to ask for integrity from Nigeria’s 2019 presidential candidates?


Once again, Nigeria is at that auspicious moment where it is expected to choose its next set of leaders for the next four years across all strata of government. At the federal level, more than seventy individuals are expected to slug it out with the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The scorecard of President Buhari is already public knowledge while many of these candidates have presented themselves as an alternative for Nigerian voters to choose in 2019. That any one of them will be chosen over the incumbent is left to the voting populace.

As a close monitor of the political process, it seems some of these individuals jostling to take over the job from President Buhari in 2019 have not shown themselves to be a better option. While Nigerians are fixated on the non-submission of President Buhari’s WAEC certificate, a news report by TheCable on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, revealed that more than fifty presidential candidates for the 2019 elections did not file their tax returns in the forms they submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Let it be known that non-submission of tax details to INEC is not enough grounds for disqualification from participating in the election but why does this non-submission matters to me? It matters because payment of tax is a compulsory duty by any responsible citizen as this is what the government uses in providing the necessary basic amenities to make life more meaningful for citizens. Tax evasion is a criminal offence punishable under law. That individuals presenting themselves for the Presidential office can’t disclose their tax details to Nigerians means something is wrong somewhere.

There is no rationale for over fifty individuals to keep away their tax details from Nigerians. Considering the fact that they are presenting themselves as a better alternative to the incumbent, they must display uncommon integrity that is worthy of emulation. If they can’t disclose their tax returns as a presidential candidate, how will they enshrine transparency in the handling of the nation’s treasury? This matters a lot and it speaks volumes about their integrity.

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