President Muhammadu Buhari recently caused a stir when he overruled the decision of the outgoing Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega by appointing Amina Zakari as the new acting chairperson of the commission, hours after Jega had handed over to Mohammed Wali.
Following her appointment, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejected her appointment, accusing President Buhari of nepotism, adding that Zakari was “too close” to the president to be appointed to such a sensitive position.
Although the Presidency has come out to deny the claims, investigations by The Trent has revealed that Zakari has had some previous dealings with President Buhari having served as a Senior Consultant/Chief Pharmacist for Afri-Project Consortium, the company in charge of all contracts issued by the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), then headed by Buhari during the regime of late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.
Also of note is the fact that Afri-Project Consortium was headed by a late brother-in-law to Buhari, Salihijo Ahmad, who according to the Spokesperson of the PDP Presidential campaign organisation, Femi Olukayode was said to have died “under mysterious circumstances.” Olukayode also claimed that only Ahmad could have been in the best position to have exposed the massive fraud at PTF under Buhari’s tenure.
Also disturbing is the revelation that Zakari is a daughter of the Emir of Kazaure, Alhaji Najib Adamu of Jigawa State who is a blood relation of the Buharis of Daura in Katsina State.An inside source at INEC availed to Nigerian Times that Zakari was Buhari’s insider at INEC in the build up to the 2015 election.
It would be recalled that Buhari had called for the sack of the Jega-led INEC, accusing it of being partisan to the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The source, who pleaded anonymity further availed that Zakari’s appointment, which was recommended by Buhari’s close acquaintances – Mohammed Hayatudeen, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Babagana Kingibe and Hamidu Ali – was done in order to confuse Nigerians into believing that she is a good choice as she is the first female to hold the office.
The source revealed that in truth, she was appointed so as to protect the interests of the All Progressive Congress as the post-election judicial process begins.
Following his assumption of office, former President Olusegun Obasanjo undertook a massive investigation into the activities at PTF with a whooping N25 billion said to be missing, with Afri-Project and Ahmad handling all consultations on behalf of the agency and Buhari, his brother-in-law.
Asides the alleged mismanagement of funds, an investigative report by Point Blank News shows that Afri-Project and PTF were also involved in a scandal where HIV/AIDS kits which were purchased in excess expired before use, leading to the loss of almost N600 million.
Afri-Project was also said to have over charged PTF for its consultation to the tune of about N2 billion.
With the new INEC chief having a record of working in so close a circle with President Buhari in the past, the PDP’s claim of nepotism/favouritism might not be out of place, especially as the commission’s mandate expects it to be non-partisan and independent.