The Peoples Democratic Party has declared that it will continue to demand for the removal of the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mrs. Amina Zakari. It said this was the position taken by the party at the meeting of members of the National Working Committee, despite what it described as unwarranted attacks on its officials by the Presidency.
Speaking after a closed door meeting in Abuja at the party’s headquarters, the party said it was privy to the fact that Zakari, who it claimed has a strong relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari and a very prominent APC North-West governor, is allegedly collaborating with the ruling party to post Resident Electoral Commissioners of its choice to Kogi and Bayelsa States ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections in those states. The PDP raised the alarm of alleged moves to use the period of Zakari’s stay as head of the commission to allegedly tinker with electoral personnel and materials for the two states in favour of the ruling party APC.
The statement said, “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 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 office of the
President of our dear country."
According to PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement in Abuja on Saturday said President Buhari, in appointing Zakari, failed to take into cognizance the moral call to detach himself from the operation of the electoral body thereby completely eroding the independence of the commission. He pointed out that the issue at stake was not that of 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 ask, is the spokesperson for 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 President? “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 Development in the Federal Capital Development Authority, then under a current APC governor of the North-West? “How much of Zakari’s roles in the last general elections does the spokesperson for the President, who has just been appointed, know to warrant his brazen defence?”
He added that even where the party conceded to the argument that the President has the powers to appoint any person he deems fit as the INEC Chairman, he said such powers must take into cognizance the sensitivity of the position involved. Otherwise, Metuh said the President can as well appoint his wife or brother as the electoral umpire on an argument of merit. He stressed that as long as the acting chairman remains in office, it would not recognise the electoral body as the being independent.