Presidency, PDP Quarrel over Zakari

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Olisa Metuh

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The federal government and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party are quarreling over the appointment of Amina Zakari as the acting chairman of INEC

THE federal government is trading words with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over the appointment of Amina Zakari as the acting chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Olisah Metu, PDP publicity secretary told journalist in Abuja July 1, that the appointment was unacceptable to his party because it smacks of nepotism and that due process was not followed. But the presidency swiftly retorted that due process was followed in making the appointment.

The quarrel over the appointment was sparked off by Attahiru Jega, immediate past INEC chairman who handed over to Ambassador  Ahmed Wali instead of Zakari who is the most senior national commissioner in the commission.  Both Zakari and Wali are to retired on July 31 and August, respectively. Jega had said he was handing over the affairs of INEC to the safe hands of Wali who will retire in August in order to give the president enough time to either appoint an acting or substantive chairman. But shortly after the handing over ceremony, the President corrected that error and announced Zakari as the acting INEC chairman.

Surprisingly, the PDP cried foul against the action of the president which for the first time made a female the acting chairman of INEC.

But a statement issued by Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, “noted with regret, the latest tirade against President Muhammadu Buhari by Metuh”.

According to Adesina, “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.

He said that Jega’s purported handing over to another commissioner could not 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 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”.

Adesina said that Metuh’s claim that the PDP has rejected Zakari’s appointment is also laughable after he had admitted that the right and power of the president to make such appointments could not be questioned.

— July 2, 2015 @ 14.40 GMT

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