Acting INEC Boss: PDP Accuses Buhari Of Nepotism | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Acting INEC Boss: PDP Accuses Buhari Of Nepotism

Posted: Jul 2, 2015 at 2:59 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

• Says APC Engaging In Voodoo Propaganda   • I Didn’t Over Rule Jega –President

By Joe Nwankwo and Rotimi Akinwumi – Abuja


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday, rejected the nomination of Mrs. Amina Zakari as acting chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism for picking her, an allegation the President insisted is far from the truth.

Mrs. Amina Zaraki and  President Muhammadu Buhari

Mrs. Amina Zaraki and President Muhammadu Buhari

The allegation of nepotism may not be unconnected with the fact that Zakari, a 1980 Pharmacy graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, was part of a consultancy firm that covered the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), an interventionist vehicle of the General Sanni Abacha military regime.

Those who know, say she was part of the Afri Project Consortium that provided consultancy services, while Buhari was Chairman of the PTF.

Prof Attahiru Jega, immediate past Chairman of INEC, had submitted his handover notes to Ambassador Muhammed Wali, on Tuesday, after completing his single five-year term, but President Buhari reversed the more a few hours later, when he announced Mrs Zakari from Jigawa as interim INEC Chairman.

While Wali is due to bow out of service on August 11, Zakari has less than three weeks left in service.

The PDP demanded an immediate reversal, insisting that “due process was not observed in the appointment,” recalling how Mrs. Zakari showed “in the last elections that she is manifestly bias in favour of the APC.”

Aside accusing the APC of slow start to governance, the PDP said the choice of Zakari and the circumstances surrounding her choice, smacks of a sinister plan by the president to use her for a hatchet job.

President Buhari, in a statement on Wednesday night, urged the public to disregard such allegations of nepotism and hidden agenda by the PDP, insisting in a statement by Femi Adesina, his spokesman that she is qualified for the job, the only woman among the six Commissioners considered, hence a positive twist to affirmation action and gender equality. He also dismissed the insinuation that the appointment was to pave way for manipulation of some pending cases at election tribunals in favour of the ruling party.

The presidency said Buhari could not have over-ruled Jega, “because only the President has the constitutional authority, which he exercised, to appoint Mrs Zakari as acting Chairman of INEC.”

Even then, the PDP said it 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,” it added.

Metuh, while recognising Buhari’s right and powers to appoint the INEC Chairman and the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), said the party “rejects 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.

Still on INEC, the PDP said in unequivocal terms that it “cannot, as critical stakeholders, fold our hands and watch while the Presidency perpetuate actions that diminish the independence of the electoral commission.

“We ask, if they trusted Prof. Jega and commended him (Wali) 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?

“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?”

The PDP wondered: “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?”

Continuing, the PDP stressed that while “this government has continued to plead for patience, we are worried that indications from President Muhammadu Buhari and his party do not inspire desired confidence in the citizenry that they are adequately equipped and ready to chart a direction for the enormous challenges of governance.

“In the last one month, instead of a journey to change as they claim, all we have witnessed are avoidable tension, wrangling within the ruling party, disruption of legislative activities in our National Assembly, painful economic stagnation, pronouncement of voodoo achievements and overall uncertainty in the polity all due to the apparent inability of our respected President to provide leadership.

“We have a President and a party that have since 32 days been unable to decide on rudimentary appointments such as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief of Staff to the President, ministers and his demand for 15 Special Advisers as approved by the PDP controlled Seventh Assembly since June 5, 2015.”

Also commenting on the announced achievements of the ruling party in the last 32 days of governance, the PDP spokesman said the APC was only engaging in voodoo propaganda.

He insisted that the country is getting worse, rather than improving since the APC came on board, and urged the ruling party to stop giving excuses on why it is not performing optimally, and brace up to the challenges of governance.

“The PDP finds it sycophantic, insincere and the height of deceit for the APC to continue to deceive President Buhari by parading voodoo achievements and pretending that all is well with the nation even when it is obvious that the government has not been able to locate its bearing.

“The PDP also finds unacceptable APC’s continued playing on the intelligence of the people by dishing out imaginary achievements in the media even when it is evident to all that the nation is stagnating, a clear indication that the ruling party and the President lack direction and capacity to meet the expectations of Nigerians.

“It is indeed amusing that a party in power in a press conference on Tuesday claimed progress in the fight against terrorism when the effort has lost steam in the last thirty-two days with insurgents, who under the Goodluck Jonathan administration were already at the verge of surrender in the Sambisa now surging back into the country.

“How can a political party attempt to deceive Nigerians and the President when the economy has plummeted under their watch with a terrifying crippling of foreign and domestic investments and the stock market losing over N350 billion because of the prevailing uncertainty and confusion in the system?

“More astonishing is the fact that a ruling party and a government of a sovereign nation and strong international voice like Nigeria are parading mere promissory notes from foreign interests as achievements, instead of settling down to galvanize resources and potentials that abound in our country.

“If by the declaration of the APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that President Buhari has done excellently well thus far, then Nigerians should not expect anything from this administration.

“The PDP as a responsible political party committed to the national interest, we urge the APC to henceforth desist from unnecessary propaganda which ought to have ended with the campaigns, settle down and help the President form a government and chart a direction for the nation.

“What Nigerians expect today is a government that will hit the ground running, face the challenges of governance and commence implementation of its campaign promises” the party said further.

Meanwhile, following her appointment as Acting Chairperson Zakari, on Wednesday, promised to continue working to improve the nation’s electoral process.

Speaking at a brief hand over ceremony, held at the INEC headquarters, Abuja, she said the successes achieved under the leadership of Prof Jega, must be consolidated.

Ambassador Wali, to who Jega had handed over before the Presidential directive, assured Zakari of his unwavering support.