Amina distances self from Buhari as collation row takes centre stage

By Our Correspondent

The tempo of  Peoples Democratic Party, PDP activism ahead of the 2019 elections heightened last week with the appointment of Amina Zakari as Chairperson of INEC Advisory Committee and Presidential election Collation Center Committee.

The party and others  have evidently seen this  appointment  as an opportunity to reiterate  their  long-held allegation  of  a plot by the ruling APC to rig the  2019  election. This accusation has lingered despite assurances by President Muhammadu Buhari that he will ensure a free and fair election.INEC too has  also assured Nigerians of its readiness to hold a free and fair poll.

While reacting to Zakari’s appointment, Kola Olgbondiyan ,PDP spokesman said last week:  “we have been informed that the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, apparently in furtherance of the plots to rig the Presidential election, has appointed Mrs. Amina Zakari, a blood relation (niece) of the APC candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Chairperson of INEC Advisory Committee and Presidential election Collation Center Committee.

He added that “The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) outrightly, vehemently and unequivocally rejects, in its entirety, the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, President Buhari’s blood relation, as the head of the collation of results, in the same election in which his uncle, President Buhari, as a candidate, has displayed a huge desperation to win.

The party then went full throttle:“The appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, who had been openly accused in various quarters as being the link person between INEC and the Buhari Presidency in their schemes to rig the election for President Buhari, constitutes a direct violence against the Presidential election and the PDP will not, in any way, whatsoever, accept it.

“This is the same Amina Zakari, who headed the ICT Department of INEC at the time that department was accused of manipulating the INEC voter register to accommodate fictitious, underage and alien voters, particularly, in remote areas where they plan to allocate and announce conjured votes for President Buhari and the APC.

It will interest Nigerians to note that this is the same Amina Zakari that was alleged to have played some roles in the 2018 governorship election in Osun state, where the electoral processes were flagrantly abused.

“In appointing Mrs. Amina Zakari to head the collation of this Presidential election, Prof. Yakubu has confirmed that he has been compromised and that he has already succumbed to pressure by the Buhari Presidency and APC to open the way for the self-succession of President Buhari.

“The fact remains that there is no way Amina Zakari will not allocate votes to her blood relation, President Buhari, whom Nigerians have indicated clearly that they are not ready to return to office as President.

“With Amina Zakari at the head of results collation, there is no way votes cast by Nigerians will count.

“We, therefore, call on all Nigerians and particularly the National Peace Committee to note that with the appointment of Amina Zakari, as head the collation of Presidential results, the INEC Chairman is setting the stage for a very huge political crisis, which is capable of derailing our democratic process.

Not true, Buhari not my Uncle, says Amina Zakari

Speaking the BBC, Amina Zakari added anther twist to the tale as she debunked the long-held assertion by critics of alleged blood relationship between her and Buhari.

She stunned listeners by saying, “I’m not his (Buhari) niece; I am not his cousin and, on this job, I was appointed since 2010 by President Jonathan. Prior to that, I was appointed as SA to President Obasanjo and I have done my work conscientiously over the years as a patriotic citizen of Nigeria.

“I don’t think I should be distracted now that elections are coming. I will continue doing my work. I will continue to serve my country to the best of my ability with the best of intentions. President Muhammadu Buhari is my President as everybody else’s President.

“He is not my cousin; he is not my uncle as is being claimed but I know him as my leader and the leader of the nation.”

PDP Clutching at straws -Presidency

Earlier, the Presidency had in a swift reaction accused PDP of clutching at straws.A statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on  Friday noted that “In another mendacious press release, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued their baseless accusations regarding Hajiya Amina Zakari, a commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accusing her of partiality and casting doubts about her integrity as an electoral commissioner.

“In their desperation, they forget that it was the PDP government that appointed her in the first place and they keep lying, as they have been caught doing on so many issues, by imputing a blood relationship between her and President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the Presidency, “President Buhari and Commissioner Amina Zakari don’t share a family relationship. An inter-marriage occurred in their extended families, so the imputation of blood relationship between the President and the electoral commissioner is a simple lie.

“What is even more curious about all the fuss coming from the PDP is that they, as a ruling party picked Mrs Zakari, judging her by her own merit and made her an electoral commissioner.

“She served so well with distinction as can be verified from the records that President Buhari approved the recommendation that she be reappointed, as he did other PDP nominees for second-term of four years.

“PDP, therefore, has no moral right to keep harassing this hardworking mother unless they have a hidden agenda.

“By this statement, the PDP is guilty of scoring an own goal and two, of harassing an innocent citizen on the basis of a lie, pure and simple.

Buhari’s Admittance of Relationship Justifies Our Demand- PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) once again latched unto the statement from the Presidency by  retorting  that  President Muhammadu Buhari’s admittance that he has an inter-marriage relationship with Mrs. Amina Zakari has vindicated its stance that she cannot be trusted with the collation of the Presidential election results.

Kola Ologbondiyan, Director, Media & Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Organization

In a statement dared President Buhari, to in the same vein, respond to respected elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, who, more than two years ago, in a media interview, exposed the fact that he, Mr

“President, in his nepotism, nominated Amina Zakari, his niece, and pushed her appointment as commissioner to represent his interest in INEC.

“It is now clear that in addition to the relationship by affinity, President Buhari also has a consanguinity relationship with Amina Zakari and has not denied that he started his early childhood in Amina Zakari’s father’s house.

“President Buhari’s admittance has effectively established that the PDP has not been crying wolf on the impropriety of involving Mrs. Amina Zakari in the collation of Presidential election results, let alone being appointed to head the final determination of the Presidential election.

It is totally unethical and immoral for an umpire to insist on officiating a contest even when her impartiality is called to question. Even in the judiciary, judges recuse themselves in cases involving parties they have affinity with. Mrs. Amina Zakari must therefore, recuse herself, if the 2019 presidential election must be credible.

“If, indeed, President Buhari is a man of integrity and is not pushing an ulterior motive with Amina Zakari, why is he insisting that she must be in INEC and that she must be at the collation of Presidential result?

“Furthermore, if President Buhari believes he is popular among Nigerians and can win in a free and fair contest, why is he fixated at manipulating the electoral process, instead of allowing INEC to have a free hand to conduct this election? His overbearingness on INEC is portentous and we caution that such is pushing the nation to the brinks.

“We counsel Mr. President not to allow his personal interest and lust for power set our nation on fire.

“Mrs. Amina Zakari has become a major identified threat to Nigeria’s democracy, national stability and corporate existence as a nation.

“Now that she has been busted, Nigerians expect her to quietly resign from INEC, instead of allowing her name in the book of infamy, as the tool used to derail our democracy and plunge our nation into crisis.

INEC has bowed to Buhari’s pressure – Ezekwesili

Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN),  Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has asked the Chairman of the Independent  National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mamoud Yakubu, to reverse  the recent deployment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, one of its commissioners.

It will be recalled that Zakari, who is well known as President  Muhammadu Buhari’s relation, was on Thursday announced as the  chairperson of INEC’s Results Collation Centre in the February 2019  elections.

Reacting to her appointment, Ezekwesili, in a press statement on  Saturday, said, “The INEC chairman appears to have bowed to pressure from the Presidency.”

She described Zakari’s appointment as political corruption, “considering  that having a relation of the President who is a contestant in the  February 2019 presidential election amounts to an apparent  Conflict-of-Interest situation.”

She said that such “repugnant deployment of Zakari to the collation centres suggests a brazen attempt to ease rigging for the APC’s  candidate in the elections.”

To ensure peace and give all the candidates a level playing ground, the  ACPN presidential candidate asked the INEC to restore confidence in the  management of the collation process by reversing the appointment of  Zakari as chairperson.

“Zakari can be assigned another task farther away from tasks that can  hinder electoral integrity,” Ezekwesili added.

Her statement read, “The INEC chairman has obviously bowed to President  Buhari’s visible and increasingly brazen determination to not just rig  but to steal the 2019 presidential election and throw the country into  crisis. Or how else can one describe this repugnant action of placing  the President’s niece, Mrs Amina Zakari, at the head of the centre for  collation of election results?

“The President and INEC chairman should know that this extremely  repugnant and provocative act of political corruption that seeks to  undermine our democracy and destabilise the country shall be resisted by  all patriotic Nigerians.

“I caution the INEC chairman and the Presidency to reverse this shameful  posting immediately and safeguard the integrity of the 2019 elections. “

Ezekwesili said that the latest development compounded doubts about the  President’s interest in presiding over a credible 2019 elections when he refused to assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018.

She said, “Worse still, under President Buhari, the public has been  alarmed at the gross misuse of security establishments to compromise  elections in places like Osun and Ekiti states. Any attempt to repeat  such abuse of state institutions in the 2019 elections for the benefit
of the ruling APC must be averted to avoid throwing the country into  political crisis.

“The President should lead a discussion among candidates and parties to  set the rules that will guide the security forces in the 2019 elections.  Ideally, the military and police establishments should be pulled out of  the involvement in our elections, considering the damning evidences of
how their personnel disenfranchised voters in Osun and Ekiti  governorship elections.

“I call on the international community to join the Nigerian people and  prevail on President Buhari to practise the Peace Accord, with exemplary  actions, in order to build confidence in the process he ebulliently  led.”

“The President has remained adamant in his refusal to sign the Electoral  Amendment Bill 2018 into law so as to build the confidence of all  contestants and Nigerians in the conduct of the 2019 elections. The  truth is that signing of the electoral bill into an Act is crucial for
peaceful conduct of the election.”

Ezekwesili added, “Nigerians want a new direction and the President must  avoid actions that suggest he wishes to suppress the aspirations of the  people in the 2019 elections. Any action of the President that aims at giving him an advantage in the February elections amounts to political
corruption since he is using his political power for personal gain as a  candidate.”

On the whole, all the stakeholders must have noticed from the unfolding fireworks on the political scene that there is an unrelenting interest in the moves toward the 2019 polls.The citizens are looking forward to a free and fair election.That is what Buhari and INEC has promised.