Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Few weeks to the a lot anticipated date of February 16, presidential election, the Peoples Democratic Social gathering (PDP), in addition to different opposition events, and the Unbiased Nationwide Electoral Fee (INEC) are embroiled in an issue.
2019: INEC to deploy new safety structure
The bone of rivalry is the appointment of the the INEC Nationwide Commissioner, in control of Well being and Welfare, Mrs. Amina Zakari, because the Head of the Nationwide Collation Centre for the presidential ballot.
Since final Thursday when the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu named Zakari the chair individual of the advert hoc committee, the fee and the opposition political events have been at loggerheads over the propriety of saddling the Nationwide Commissioner, who is claimed to be a relation of President Muhammadu Buhari, with such a delicate task. President Buhari is the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the presidential ballot.
Opposition political events, together with the Inter-Social gathering Advisory Council (IPAC), which is the umbrella physique of the 91 registered political events within the nation, condemned the appointment, stating that it brings to query the credibility and impartiality of INEC within the construct as much as the presidential ballot.
The Peoples Democratic Get together (PDP) Nationwide Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, advised journalists in Abuja that the selection of Zakari as head of the Nationwide Collation Centre, which might be saddled with the onerous process of collating the outcomes of the presidential election, is a sign that Yakubu has bowed to alleged strain from the presidency and the ruling celebration to offer an unfair benefit to Buhari in subsequent month’s contest.
Based on Ologbondiyan, “in appointing Mrs. Amina Zakari to go the collation of this presidential election, Prof. Yakubu has confirmed that he has been compromised and that he has already succumbed to strain by the Buhari Presidency and APC to open the best way for the self-succession of President Buhari.
“The fact remains that there is no way Amina Zakari will not allocate votes to her blood relation, President Buhari, whom Nigerians have indicated clearly that they are not ready to return to office as President.”
The opposition spokesman added that “for us to have a peaceful election, Mrs. Amina Zakari should not be seen anywhere near any of the 2019 election processes, not to talk of being involved in the collation of presidential results.”
Nevertheless, talking on a tv programme, the INEC director answerable for Voter Schooling and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi stated the controversy was pointless because the Nationwide Commissioner, who’s within the eye of the storm won’t have any position to play within the collation of the presidential election outcomes.
He defined that Zakari was appointed as Head of the Nationwide Collation Committee, as a result of she is in command of welfare within the fee, noting that the position of the collation committee is to be in command of the Worldwide Convention Centre (ICC), venue for the collation of the presidential election outcomes.
“The chairman of INEC by virtue of the Electoral Act is the returning officer of the country for the presidential election. It is he who decides the validity of votes and any issues in the election,” he stated.
“The committee is primarily in charge of welfare. She was also very involved in negotiating with the ICC management in 2015 for the use of the facility so her duty is to ensure the facility is ready. She has no role whatsoever with the process of collation,” Osaze-Uzzi defined.
On its half, the presidency stated the opposition get together is crying wolf when none exists, mentioning that the accusations of impartiality towards Zakari was baseless, as she was appointed into INEC by the quick previous administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a press release, signed by Mallam Shehu Garba, the presidency dismissed claims by the PDP that Zakari is President Buhari’s niece. Nevertheless, it admitted that a marriage occurred between the prolonged household of the President and that of the Nationwide Commissioner.
“Of their desperation, they overlook that it was the PDP authorities that appointed her within the first place they usually hold mendacity, as they’ve been caught doing on so many points, by imputing a blood relationship between her and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“President Buhari and Commissioner Amina Zakari don’t share a household relationship. An inter-marriage occurred of their prolonged households, so the imputation of blood relationship between the president and the electoral commissioner is an easy lie.
“What’s much more interested in all of the fuss coming from the PDP is that they, as a ruling get together picked Mrs. Zakari, judging her by her personal benefit and made her an electoral commissioner.
“She served so well with distinction as can be verified from the records that President Buhari approved the recommendation that she be reappointed, as he did other PDP nominees for second-term of four years. PDP, therefore, has no moral right to keep harassing this hardworking mother unless they have a hidden agenda,” the presidential spokesperson said.
However the main opposition social gathering says President Buhari’s admittance that a marriage occurred between his prolonged household and the INEC commissioner’s prolonged is a vindication of its stance that it’s immoral for Zakari to be concerned within the collation of the presidential outcomes.
“It’s completely unethical and immoral for an umpire to insist on officiating a contest even when her impartiality known as to query. Even within the judiciary, judges recuse themselves in instances involving events they’ve affinity with. Mrs. Amina Zakari should subsequently, recuse herself, if the 2019 presidential election have to be credible.
“If, indeed, President Buhari is a man of integrity and is not pushing an ulterior motive with Amina Zakari, why is he insisting that she must be in INEC and that she must be at the collation of presidential result?,” the PDP queried in a press release signed by Ologbondiyan.
Equally, the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Celebration of Nigeria (ACPN) Oby Ezekwesili, stated it’s repugnant for the INEC to nominate Zakari as head of the Nationwide Collation Committee.
Ezekwesili stated: “Zakari could be assigned one other activity farther away from duties that may hinder electoral integrity. Or how else can one describe this repugnant motion of putting the president’s niece, Mrs. Amina Zakari, on the head of the centre for collation of election outcomes?
“The president and INEC chairman ought to know that this extraordinarily repugnant and provocative act of political corruption that seeks to undermine our democracy and destabilise the nation shall be resisted by all patriotic Nigerians.
“I caution the INEC chairman and the presidency to reverse this shameful posting immediately and safeguard the integrity of the 2019 elections.”
This isn’t the primary time the embattled INEC commissioner will probably be a supply of friction between the main opposition social gathering and the electoral physique. Prior to now, the PDP had on a number of situations accused Zakari, who used to supervise the Operations, in addition to Info and Communication Know-how (ICT) Division of INEC, of alleged partiality within the conduct of elections.
The get together’s opposition to Zakari’s continued keep in INEC heightened within the aftermath of the Osun governorship election, the place the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate was declared winner of the controversial ballot.
The PDP had pointedly accused the INEC ICT division, which was then underneath the supervision of the embattled commissioner of slashing the votes of its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke by four, 740 votes to pave approach for the victory of the ruling social gathering’s candidate.
Leaders of the opposition social gathering, together with the PDP Nationwide Chairman, Uche Secondus, Senate President, Bukola Saraki amongst others, have been to later lead a protest to the INEC over the matter. Apparently in response to the protest, the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, two weeks after eliminated Zakari from the ICT division and despatched her to supervise the Well being and Welfare division of the electoral fee.
Nevertheless, it’s unlikely that INEC would accede to the request of the opposition this time.
Reacting to the event, Zakari, in an interview with the British Broadcast Company (BBC) denied being a relation of President Buhari. She equally dominated out the potential of resigning as demanded by the opposition.
Regardless, the PDP just isn’t relenting on its demand that the embattled INEC commissioner shouldn’t be a part of the conduct of the 2019 polls. Consequently, the opposition celebration on the weekend referred to as on the Nationwide Meeting to start strikes to alleviate the embattled INEC commissioner of her duties instantly within the curiosity of the nation’s democracy.
Part 157 of the 1999 structure (as amended) supplies that the chairman and members of the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Federal Civil Service Fee, the Unbiased Nationwide Electoral Fee, the Nationwide Judicial Council, the Federal Judicial Service Fee, the Federal Character Fee, the Nigeria Police Council, the Nationwide Inhabitants Fee, the Income Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Fee and the Police Service Fee, might “only be removed from that office by the president acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misconduct.”
Though Ologbondiyan stated the PDP is already reaching out to its caucus within the Nationwide Meeting on the matter, it’s nevertheless not sure how the Senate will react to the difficulty when it resumes from its Christmas vacation subsequent Tuesday.
Nevertheless, analysts say it’s crucial for INEC to interact constructively with the political events, particularly on the present controversy, in addition to take steps to regain the arrogance of the opposition on its impartiality within the presidential ballot; that approach, they additional contend, the result of the February 16 presidential election won’t be marred by unnecessary controversy.