As controversy generated by the appointment of a new boss for Nigeria’s electoral umpires refuses to die down, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) insists it would continue to demand the removal
of the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs. Amina Zakari.
The party’s position was as resolved during its 403rd National Working Committee (NWC) meeting, despite unwarranted attacks on its officials by the Presidency.
The party maintained it is privy to the fact that “Mrs. Zakari who has a strong relationship
with President Muhammadu Buhari and a
very prominent All Progressives Congress
(APC) North-west governor is collaborating
with the ruling party to post Resident
Electoral Commissioners of its choice to
Kogi and Bayelsa ahead of the forthcoming
governorship elections in those states.”
The PDP also alerted of alleged moves to
use the period of Mrs. Zakari’s stay as
head of the commission to tinker with
electoral personnel and materials for the
two states in favour of the APC.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief
Olisa Metuh in a statement on Saturday noted “President Buhari, in appointing Mrs.
Zakari, failed to take into cognizance the
moral call to detach himself from the operations of the electoral body, thereby completely eroding the independence of the commission.
The party pointed out that the issue at
stake is not that of Mrs. Zakari’s
competence or performance in office but
the fact of nepotism and her closeness to
the President and some key APC leaders,
which calls into question the independence
of the electoral body under her.
“We want Nigerians to know that with this
appointment, INEC has been stripped of its
independence and can no longer command
the confidence and respect of the citizens
and all other critical stakeholders in the
nation’s electoral process.
“We however find it astonishing,
discouraging and disheartening that the
spokesperson of the President will address
Nigerians and lie to the entire citizenry
that Mrs. Zakari never had any relationship
with the President or an APC Governor in
the Northwest. This is the height of
deception coming from the respected of
fice of the President of our dear country.
“We ask, is the spokesperson of the
President, oblivious of the public fact that
the Acting Chairman of INEC was once a
staff of Afri-Project Consortium, a
company well associated with the
“Is he by any means feigning ignorance of
the fact that Mrs. Zakari also worked in
the past as Secretary of Health and
Human Services, Social Development and
later, that of Agriculture and Rural Devel
opment in the Federal Capital Development
Authority, then under a current APC
governor of the Northwest?
“How much of Mrs. Zakari’s roles in the
last general elections does the spokesper
son of the President, who has just been
appointed, know to warrant his brazen
“Even where we concede to the worn-out
argument that the President has the
powers to appoint any person he deems fit
as the INEC Chairman, does moral
obligation not demand that in doing so he
should take into cognizance the sensitivity
of the position? Otherwise he can as well
appoint his wife or brother as the electoral
umpire on an argument of merit.
“While the PDP might not be opposed to
Mrs. Zakari becoming one out of the
numerous national electoral commissioners
to be so appointed, we completely reject
her being an executive chairman who
takes major decisions in an independent
electoral commission while having a strong
relationship with the President and a
prominent APC Northwest governor.
“Indeed, never in the history of Nigeria has
there been an executive chairman of the
electoral body with such strong relationship
with the president of the country.
“If therefore the stance and choice of
words of the Presidential spokesperson,
which apparently fall short of the civility of
a democratic setting, reflect in any way
those of President Buhari, then there is
serious question on his credentials as a
“Conversely, we caution that presidential
spokespersons in representing the
President, must note that the psychology
of their personal sudden flight to political
limelight should not engineer a trauma of
monumental deceit to our great nation”,
the PDP said.
Insisting that Mrs. Zakari must be
removed, the PDP said having in the last
16 years reformed the nation’s electoral
system to an enviable status that is being
commended by the international
community, it cannot sit back and watch
too early in the day, its gradual destruction
by partisan interest.
The party therefore urged Nigerians, especially key stakeholders in the democratic process “to rise above sectional, religious, gender and partisan biases and put the independence of INEC, the
credibility of the electoral process and the overall interest of the nation above every other consideration in their comments and views on the appointment.”