The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed its rejection of President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Amina Zakari as the acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accusing the president of nepotism.
Speaking via a statement issued on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the PDP said Zakari is too close to the president.
Metuh further question the process that saw Zakari emerge as the INEC chair, adding that with President Buhari’s “slow motion” approach to things, especially as regards appointment of officials, a substantive INEC Chairman might not be appointed until next year.
The statement read: “The PDP has declared the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as unacceptable and demand that President Buhari changes her immediately.
“The PDP is particularly disturbed by the development in INEC where President Buhari, who knew all along that the immediate-past INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega would be leaving office by June 30, had to wait for him to handover to one of the national commissioners only to reverse it immediately, thereby injecting bad blood in the commission.
“The situation in INEC since the PDP government reformed and granted it operational autonomy has been peaceful, but Tuesday’s untidy overruling of Prof. Jega and appointing of Mrs. Amina Zakari as acting chairman which, we gathered was influenced by personal relationship with the Presidency and one of the new governors of the North West, ostensibly to pave the way for the APC at the electoral tribunals, has completely eroded public trust in the commission.
“Whereas the PDP recognises the right and powers of the President to appoint the Chairman of INEC and the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), we reject attempts as in the case of the AGF to paint the process as transparent and objective when such was not the case, but brought to question the sincerity and commitment of the present administration to due process.
“In INEC, the PDP states in unequivocal terms that we cannot, as critical stakeholders fold our hands and watch while the Presidency perpetuates actions that diminish the independence of the electoral commission.
“Our reasons include the fact that due process was not observed in the appointment and that Mrs. Zakari has shown in the last elections that she is manifestly bias in favour of the APC. Finally, her appointment is a clear case of nepotism.
“We ask, if they trusted Prof. Jega and commended him for conducting free and fair elections, why would they not trust him on who to hold forth in the commission until a substantive chairman is appointed, rather than appointing someone who is retiring from the commission in the next three weeks?”
In a swift response the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said the claim by the PDP was baseless.
He said:v“We have noted with regret, the latest tirade against President Muhammadu Buhari issued today by the PDP’s Spokesman, Mr Olisa Metuh.
“Other than boring reporters at his press conference with a rehash of baseless allegations of inaction against the President, Mr Metuh clearly had nothing new to say apart from his charge of nepotism and partisanship in the appointment of the Acting INEC Chairman, which also lacks any factual foundation.
President Buhari certainly did not “overrule” Prof. Attahiru Jega in appointing Mrs Amina Zakari as the Acting INEC Chairman, as Mr Metuh alleged.
“Prof. Jega’s purported handing over to another Commissioner cannot be construed as an “appointment” because only the President has the constitutional authority, which he exercised to appoint Mrs Zakari as acting Chairman of INEC.
“Contrary to Mr Metuh’s allegations, President Buhari’s appointment of Mrs Zakari as Acting INEC Chariman was based entirely on merit, her vast experience in the internal operations of INEC and the President’s commitment to affirmative action in support of gender equality, because, apart from being fully qualified for the position, Mrs Zakari was the only woman among the six Commissioners considered.
“Due Process was certainly followed in Mrs Zakari’s appointment. Mr Metuh’s spurious claims of her appointment having been influenced by “personal relationship with the Presidency” and a Governor in the North-West “to pave the way for the APC” at election tribunals should be disregarded by the public.
“The allegations are nothing but falsehoods contrived by Mr Metuh to unjustly denigrate a President popularly elected by Nigerians to undo the damage done to the nation by years of PDP rule.
“His claim that the PDP has rejected Mrs Zakari’s appointment is also laughable after he had admitted that the right and power of the President to make such appointments cannot be questioned.”