PDP alleges Buhari plans to rig Kogi, Bayelsa polls appointing Zakari at INEC

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The Peoples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) says it would continue to demand the removal of the Acting Chairman of the In­dependent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs. Amina Zakari as resolved during its 403rd National Working Committee (NWC) meeting, despite unwarrant­ed attacks on its officials by the Presidency.
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The party said it is privy to the fact that “Mrs. Zakari who has a strong relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari and a very prominent All Progressives Congress (APC) North-west governor is collaborating with the ruling party to post Resident Electoral Commissioners of its choice to Kogi and Bayelsa ahead of the forthcoming governorship elections in those states.”

The PDP also alerted of al­leged moves to use the period of Mrs. Zakari’s stay as head of the commission to tinker with electoral personnel and materi­als for the two states in favour of the APC.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in a statement on Saturday said “President Buhari, in appoint­ing Mrs. Zakari, failed to take into cognizance the moral call to detach himself from the op­erations of the electoral body, thereby completely eroding the independence of the com­mission.

The party pointed out that the issue at stake is not that of Mrs. Zakari’s competence or performance in office but the fact of nepotism and her close­ness to the President and some key APC leaders, which calls into question the independence of the electoral body under her.

“We want Nigerians to know that with this appoint­ment, INEC has been stripped of its independence and can no longer command the con­fidence and respect of the citi­zens and all other critical stake­holders in the nation’s electoral process.

“We however find it as­tonishing, discouraging and disheartening that the spokes­person of the President will address Nigerians and lie to the entire citizenry that Mrs. Za­kari never had any relationship with the President or an APC Governor in the Northwest. This is the height of deception coming from the respected of­fice of the President of our dear country.

“We ask, is the spokesper­son of the President, oblivious of the public fact that the Act­ing Chairman of INEC was once a staff of Afri-Project Consortium, a company well associated with the President?

“Is he by any means feign­ing ignorance of the fact that Mrs. Zakari also worked in the past as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Social Development and later, that of Agriculture and Rural Devel­opment in the Federal Capital Development Authority, then under a current APC governor of the Northwest?

“How much of Mrs. Za­kari’s roles in the last general elections does the spokesper­son of the President, who has just been appointed, know to warrant his brazen defence?

“Even where we concede to the worn-out argument that the President has the powers to ap­point any person he deems fit as the INEC Chairman, does moral obligation not demand that in doing so he should take into cognizance the sensitivity of the position? Otherwise he can as well appoint his wife or brother as the electoral umpire on an argument of merit.

“While the PDP might not be opposed to Mrs. Zakari be­coming one out of the numer­ous national electoral commis­sioners to be so appointed, we completely reject her being an executive chairman who takes major decisions in an inde­pendent electoral commission while having a strong relation­ship with the President and a prominent APC Northwest governor.

“Indeed, never in the his­tory of Nigeria has there been an executive chairman of the electoral body with such strong relationship with the president of the country.

“If therefore the stance and choice of words of the Presi­dential spokesperson, which apparently fall short of the ci­vility of a democratic setting, reflect in any way those of President Buhari, then there is serious question on his creden­tials as a converted democrat.

“Conversely, we caution that presidential spokespersons in representing the President, must note that the psychology of their personal sudden flight to political limelight should not engineer a trauma of monu­mental deceit to our great na­tion”, the PDP said.

Insisting that Mrs. Zakari must be removed, the PDP said having in the last 16 years re­formed the nation’s electoral system to an enviable status that is being commended by the international community, it cannot sit back and watch too early in the day, its gradual destruction by partisan interest.

The party therefore urged Nigerians, especially key stakeholders in the democratic process “to rise above section­al, religious, gender and parti­san biases and put the indepen­dence of INEC, the credibility of the electoral process and the overall interest of the nation above every other consider­ation in their comments and views on the appointment.”

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