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PDP Rejects Zakari As INEC Acting Boss; Due Process Followed –Buhari

Olisa Metuh

By Abdul Gaffar Bello – Barely 24 hours after her appointment, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has rejected the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) acting Chairman, Mrs. Amina Bala-Zakari and subsequently demanded President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately terminate her appointment.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja Wednesday, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh held that Zakari’s appointment has eroded public trust in the Commission, accusing Buhari of “nepotism”.

Metuh stressed: “The PDP is particularly disturbed by the development in INEC where President Buhari, who knew all along that the immediate-past INEC chairman, Professor 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 Professor 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 perpetuate actions that diminish the independence of the electoral commission.

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

Metuh alleged that the acting INEC boss favoured the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last general elections, raising fear that she could work against the opposition at the tribunal and next year’s gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.

“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.

He contended that with the prevailing record of President Buhari on appointments, it was unlikely that a “substantive INEC Chairman will be appointed in the next one year” asking if there was any hidden agenda?

It would be recalled Professor Jega on leaving office on Wednesday, handed over to another National Electoral Commissioner, Mohammed Wali.

Due Process Was Followed -Buhari

Meanwhile, the President has reacted to the PDP’s accusations saying due process was followed in Mrs. zakari’s appointment as acting INEC chairman

A statement issued by the president’s spokesperson, Mr Femi Adesina reads in full:

“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.”


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