The Peoples Democratic Party on Wednesday rejected the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as the Acting National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The PDP in a statement issued by Olisa Metuh asked that the first female to head the country’s electoral body be sacked immediately because her appointment was allegedly facilitated by a relationship with the Presidency and ties with some new governors in the north.
The opposition party equally alleged that Zakari’s appointment would give the All Progressives Congress an upper hand at the various election petitions tribunals.
“The PDP has declared the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as unacceptable and demands that President (Muhammadu) Buhari changes her immediately,” the National Publicity Secretary of the opposition party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said at a crowded press briefing in Abuja.
Zakari was appointed as the acting boss of the commission on Tuesday by Buhari, few hours after the former chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had handed over to Amb. Ahmed Wali.
Both Zakari and Wali were national commissioners with the electoral body, but Zakari, appointed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, as INEC national commissioner was a senior to Wali.
While the acting chairman is due for retirement as national commissioner on July 31, 2015, the tenure of Wali ends on August 11, 2015.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, who conveyed Zakari’s appointment in a letter, said it was with effect from June 30, 2015 “until the appointment of a substantive chairman.”
But the PDP alleged that the new acting INEC chairman, who took over the running of the electoral body on Wednesday with a pledge to work towards the improvement of the electoral process, “is too close to the Presidency.”
Metuh at the Wednesday’s briefing however said that his party would want Zakari to state her alleged closeness to the Presidency and one of the governors of the All Progressives Congress from the North-West.
The PDP might be referring to the period Zakari served as Secretary, Health and Human Service; Secretary, Social Development; and Acting Secretary, Agriculture and Rural Development at the Federal Capital Territory Administration in 2004.
During the period, the new Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, was the minister in charge of the territory.
The PDP spokesman 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. Jega would be leaving office by June 30, had to wait for him to hand over 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 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, 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 Zakari as unacceptable and demand that President Buhari changes her immediately.”
Metuh said that his party believed that due process was not observed in the appointment of the acting INEC boss and that Zakari had allegedly shown in the last elections that “she is manifestly bias in favour of the APC.”
Metuh however failed to state where and how Zakari showed bias as alleged.
He also said that with the prevailing record of Buhari 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?” he asked.