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President Muhammadu Buhari has ‘Spartan lifestyle’, official declares



The wealth declaration of Nigeria’s anti-corruption president shows he is not as wealthy as his predecessors were, an official says.

President Muhammadu Buhari salutes his supporters during his inauguration in Abuja in May. An official says the new president has been living “an austere and Spartan lifestyle” compared to his predecessors and other senior government officials. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP

The wealth declaration of Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, lists $150,000 in his personal account, which is contrary to what many might have expected of a former head of state of Nigeria and one who has held a number of top government positions.

In the declaration, which Garba Shehu, a senior special assistant in charge of media and publicity for the president, claimed to reveal the leader had been living “an austere and Spartan lifestyle”, president Muhammadu Buhari stated that he had shares in Berger Paints, Union Bank and Skye Bank, but did not reveal the value of the shares.

Buhari has vowed to stamp out corruption, which is endemic in Africa’s biggest economy. Last month he said the amount of money missing from state coffers was US$150bn.

Shehu’s statement also did not give the value of all the assets held by the president and the vice president, saying the documents submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau would be made public as soon as vetting is completed.

Buhari has a total of five homes and two mud houses in Daura (Katsina state), Shehu said. In addition he has farms, an orchard and a ranch with 270 head of cattle, 25 sheep, five horses and a variety of birds, the statement said.

He also has two undeveloped plots of land, one in Kano and the other in Port Harcourt, Shehu said.

The statement was vague on the number of cars the president owns, saying two were bought from his savings, others supplied to him by the federal government in his capacity as former head of state and the rest donated to him by well-wishers after his Jeep was damaged in a Boko Haram bomb attack on his convoy in July 2014.

Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo’s asset declaration listed $900,000 in bank accounts, a four-bedroom residence, a three-bedroom flat, a two-bedroom flat and a two-bedroom mortgaged property in Bedford, England, the statement said, adding that the vice president also has shareholdings in six private companies based in Lagos and three cars.

Analysts praised the move by the officials to declare their wealth.

“The declaration represents a step in the right direction as per international standards and best practice,” said Sylvester Atere, of the United Nations office on drugs and crime in Nigeria. “Hence, it helps to build confidence and public trust.”

Former president Goodluck Jonathan, who lost to Buhari in the 28 March polls, declined to declare his wealth as president though he had done so as vice president during the regime of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, who was the first leader to declare his assets when taking office.