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Why PDP Rejects Zakari As Acting INEC Chairman

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The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as the acting National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), alleging nepotism and unobserved due process.

While rejecting the appointment of Zakari, the PDP alleged that “due process was not observed in the appointment” and “her appointment is a clear case of nepotism”

Stating his party’s position at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the party was particularly distressed by the appointment of Zakari as acting INEC Chairman.

“The PDP has declared the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as unacceptable and demand that President Buhari changes her immediately,” he said.

Mr Metuh further stated that the party thought it unfair that Buhari had to wait for the immediate past INEC chairman, prof Attahiru Jega to handover to one of the national commissioners only to reverse it immediately, knowing that Jega would be leaving office June 30th.

“The situation in INEC since the PDP government reformed and granted it operational autonomy has been peaceful, but Tuesday’s untidy overruling of Jega and appointing of 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 perpetuate 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 Zakari has shown in the last elections that she is manifestly bias in favour of the APC.

“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? Metuh asked.

“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?”

The presidency however refuted the PDPs claim saying that due process was adhered to in the appointment of Zakari.

This was said in a statement issued by the presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina

It reads: “We have noted with regret, the latest tirade against President Buhari issued today by the PDP spokesman, Metuh.

“Other than boring reporters at his press conference with a rehash of baseless allegations of inaction against the president, 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’ Jega in appointing Zakari as the acting INEC Chairman, as Metuh alleged.

“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 as acting Chairman of INEC.

“Contrary to Metuh’s allegations, President Buhari’s appointment of 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 Zakari’s appointment. 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.”

Mr Adesina said that Metuh’s claim that the PDP had rejected Zakari’s appointment was laughable after he had admitted that the right and power of the president to make such appointments cannot be questioned.