…says plots to rig Kogi, Bayelsa guber polls already hatched
Appointment followed due process –Presidency

Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday called for immediate removal of Mrs. Amina Zakari as acting Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, describing her appointment as unacceptable.Mrs.-Amina-Zakari-and-Jega

PDP, which decried the shoddy way President Muhammadu Buhari shoved aside the nominee of former INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, before the appointment of Mrs. Zakari, whose tenure as INEC commissioner expires next month, also alerted of plots to rig the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

It would be recalled that Prof. Jega, had on Monday, upon the expiration of his tenure, handed over to one of the National Commissioners, Ambassador Mohammed Ahmad Wali, whose tenure as National Commissioner will expire on August 11, 2015.

Addressing newsmen in Abuja, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh said the appointment of Zakari would inject bad blood in INEC.

Explaining why PDP was rejecting the appointment, Metuh said due process was not observed in the appointment and that Mrs. Zakari, had shown in the last elections that she is manifestly bias in favour of APC.

He said: “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 appointment 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.

“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 APC. Finally her appointment is a clear case of nepotism.”

According to Metuh, if Jega was commended for conducting free and fair elections, he should also be trusted as to who should hold forth in the commission until a substantive Chairman is appointed.

“With the prevailing record of Mr. President on appointments, it is unlikely that a substantive INEC Chairman will be appointed in the next one year.

“Is there a hidden agenda? Has Mrs. Zakari been handed a script to act given that we have cases in the tribunals in addition to the forthcoming elections in Kogi and Bayelsa? Metuh asked.

However, the Presidency said the appointment of Zakari followed due process.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in a statement issued yesterday said Buhari did not overrule Prof. Jega in the appointment of his successor.

Adesina, in his reaction to the PDP, said 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 Zakari.

The statement said: “Contrary to Mr. Metuh’s allegations, President Buhari’s appointment of Mrs. Zakari as acting INEC Chairman 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.”

But the Archbishop of Lagos Mainland, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Adebayo Akinde, yesterday expressed satisfaction with the appointment of Mrs. Zakari.

The cleric said he was not surprised by the appointment of Zakari as “females seem to be taking the positions” in almost every aspect of Nigeria’s life.

“We thank God for the phase in which Nigeria is; if you look at every aspect of our nation, females seem to be taking the positions down; so I am not surprised. “Many females have occupied eminent positions and have held their own sway.

“So appointing a female as an acting INEC chair, I have every confidence she will deliver; Nigerian women, excellent,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Zakari has pledged to continue to work towards improving the electoral process.

Zakari, who made the pledge yesterday at a brief handover ceremony at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, said her appointment was a call to greater service.

“I accept this with humility and added dedication to serve. We hope to see the continued improvement of the electoral process in the country,” she said.

She maintained that the successes achieved under the leadership of Prof. Jega must be consolidated.

While praying for God’s guidance to lead the Commission, pending the appointment of a substantive chairman, Mrs. Zakari stressed the need to work harder.

Earlier Ambassador Wali had said it was his pleasure to hand over the affairs of the Commission to Zakari, having himself taken over the affairs of INEC for some hours when Prof. Jega handed over to him on Tuesday.

He assured the acting chairman of his unwavering support.

“If she succeeds, we all succeed; if she fails, we all fail,” he declared.

Wali pointed out that the Commission has always and will continue to work in harmony to promote the interest of democracy and the electoral process.

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