By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, Jan. 4, 2019
The Presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari and Hajiya Amina Zakari, a commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) do not share a family relationship as being speculated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said in a statement in Abuja on Friday that the imputation of blood relationship between the President and the electoral commissioner was `a simple lie’.
The statement read: “In another mendacious press release, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued their baseless accusations regarding Hajiya Amina Zakari, a commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), accusing her of partiality and casting doubts about her integrity as an electoral commissioner.
“In their desperation, they forget that it was the PDP government that appointed her in the first place and they keep lying, as they have been caught doing on so many issues, by imputing a blood relationship between her and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“President Buhari and Commissioner Amina Zakari don’t share a family relationship. An inter-marriage occurred in their extended families, so the imputation of blood relationship between the President and the electoral commissioner is a simple lie.
“What is even more curious about all the fuss coming from the PDP is that they, as a ruling party picked Mrs Zakari, judging her by her own merit 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.’’
The presidential media aide, therefore, maintained that the PDP had no moral right to “keep harassing this hardworking mother unless they have a hidden agenda.
“By this statement, the PDP is guilty of scoring an own goal and two, of harassing an innocent citizen on the basis of a lie, pure and simple’’.
However, the Advocacy for Integrity and Economic Development (AIED) has called on the Chairman of the INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to tender his resignation letter immediately as a result of Zakari’s appointment.
AIED made this demand in a press statement issued on Friday and signed by its Director of Publicity, Comrade O’Seun John, in reaction to reports that a niece of President Buhari, Amina Zakari, has been given a pivotal role in the 2019 presidential election in which her uncle is a major participant.
AIED described the appointment as the “final straw” in what has already been a partisan relationship between the expected independent commission and the government in power.
“What we have witnessed today in the appointment of Amina Zakari by Mahmood Yakubu is the final straw in what has been a partisan-laden commission. INEC as we know it no longer exists, instead it has become another arm of the Presidency and the ruling party with the Chairman of the commission taking orders from the office of the Chief of Staff.
“The neutrality and unbiased standing of INEC has been eroded with the appointment of a blood relative of a major contender into a pivotal role for the presidential election.
“But this is not the only crime of the Mahmood Yakubu-led tenure, rather, it is one of the many steps toward rechristening the commission into a ‘Buhari Electoral Commission’. We all witnessed the abysmal defense of constructive criticism by the media aide of the Chairman written in tenses that suggest it was crafted by Lai Mohammed and only passed to INEC for signature.
“We also witnessed how INEC, in spite of the international and nationwide condemnation of the electoral fraud disguised as election in Osun gubernatorial election, defended the gigantic antidemocratic process and allowed same to stand.
“It is with these evidences that we strongly believe that an INEC under the leadership of Mahmood Yakubu can not conduct a free, fair and transparent election and thereby demand that he tenders his resignation letter. Doing otherwise will only interpret to a presidential election determined before it commenced.
“If Yakubu decides to be unpatriotic and delay his resignation, it is only manly of him to then issue a certificate of return to President Buhari and for go the plan of wasting huge resources and precious time in conducting any election.