The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has vehemently rejected the appointment of Amina Zakari as the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on National Collation Centre.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on Thursday inaugurated Mrs. Zakari to chair the Ad Hoc Committee on National Collation Centre, and Air Vice Marshal Tijjani Mu’azu (rtd) to chair the Electoral Logistics.
According to the PDP, Mrs. Zakari is President Muhammadu Buhari’s niece.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) also rejected Mrs. Zakari’s appointment.
The PDP in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that she is a blood relation of Buhari and would consequently assist Mr. President who is the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig the presidential election.
He further noted that it could also fuel violence that would be injurious to Nigeria’s democracy.
“Today, we have been informed that Yakubu, apparently in furtherance of the plots to rig the presidential election, has appointed Mrs Amina Zakari, a blood relation (niece) of the APC candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, as the chairperson of INEC Advisory Committee and Presidential Election Collation Centre Committee.
“The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation vehemently and unequivocally rejects, in its entirety, the appointment of Mrs Amina Zakari, President Buhari’s blood relation, as the head of the collation of results, in the same election in which his uncle, President Buhari, as a candidate, has displayed a huge desperation to win.
“The appointment of Zakari, who had been openly accused in various quarters as being the link person between INEC and the Buhari Presidency in their schemes to rig the election for President Buhari, constitutes a direct violence against the presidential election and the PDP will not, in any way, whatsoever, accept it.”
The PDP further urged the United Nations and other global democratic institutions to take note of the noxious appointment by the Chairman of INEC who the opposition party said has been no doubt compromised by the ruling party.
“All we ask for is a free, fair, credible and transparent electoral process in which the votes of Nigerians will not only count but will be seen to have counted. Like Mr President said during his 2019 budget presentation at the National Assembly, the world is watching us.”
APGA in its own reaction described Mrs. Zakari’s appointment as a desperate attempt to rig the forthcoming elections.
“Aside from being nepotistic, it’s highly unethical. It’s a desperate attempt by the APC regime to rig the election wholesale. We can see the reason why President Buhari would not assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill,” Mike Angel, the Director of Strategic Communication of the campaign organization of John Gbor, the party’s presidential candidate said.
Mrs. Ezekwesili reacts
Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), in her reaction said that INEC had bowed to Buhari’s wish.
“Or how else can one describe this repugnant action of placing the President’s niece, Mrs Amina Zakari, at the head of collation of election results?
“The President and INEC chairman should know that this extremely repugnant and provocative act of political corruption that seeks to undermine our democracy and destabilise the country shall be resisted by all patriotic Nigerians.”
INEC says her appointment was not a plot to rig 2019 elections
INEC in its reaction through its Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi, assured Nigerians that the appointment of Mrs. Zakari was not an attempt to rig the 2019 elections in favour of President Buhari.
“Mrs Amina Zakari’s appointment as chairman of the ad hoc Committee on Collation Centre should not be interpreted as a plan to rig the elections. Mrs Zakari played a similar role in the 2015 general elections and I have yet to hear anybody say that the elections were rigged.
“As the National Commissioner in charge of Electoral Operations (not ICT as alleged) before she was redeployed to health services, Mrs Zakari played a major role in the planning and conduct of more than 180 re-run, bye-polls and governorship elections that produced clear winners.
“In fact, the Anambra State governorship election is a good example where neither of the two most influential political parties won.
“Rather than vilify her, Mrs Zakari deserves commendation for the outstanding roles she has played in the country’s electoral system since her appointment as national commissioner.”
According to Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of INEC, who inaugurated the committee, the commission was taking necessary steps in its determination to ensure flawless preparations for the 2019 general elections.
“As we move closer to the elections, the commission has decided to set up two ad hoc committees to drive important components of the electoral process. The first committee is responsible for electoral logistics. The commission is aware that the conduct of the general elections is the biggest and most complex logistics operation a nation can undertake.
“Sensitive and non-sensitive materials procured by the commission must be delivered to almost 200,000 locations nationwide, ranging from the polling units to the various ward, local government, state and the national collation centres for the 1,558 constituencies into which elections will be conducted.
“At the end of the elections, sensitive materials will be retrieved from the same locations. The same process will be repeated for each of the two phases of the 2019 general elections, namely the Presidential and National Assembly elections holding on February 16 and the governorship, state assembly and area council election in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on March 2.
“For the 2019 general elections, the Electoral Logistics Committee will be responsible for coordinating logistics support as well as the clearance and transportation of election materials to various locations nationwide. The committee includes relevant security agencies whose roles are clearly defined in Section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
“The second ad hoc committee, which is entirely internal to the commission, shall be responsible for the national collation centre from where results of the Presidential election will be announced. As was the case in 2015, the commission will use the International Conference Centre in Abuja. Already, the management of the ICC has approved the commission’s request to once again use the venue in 2019.”
Other members of the Adhoc Committee on Electoral Logistics are Abubakar Nahuche (National Commissioner) and Mallam Mohammed Haruna (National Commissioner).
The representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of State Services, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force are members of the committee.
Other members of the committee are INEC Director of Electoral Operations Department; Director, Estate Works and Transport; Director, Procurement and Director of Stores (Secretary).
Apart from Zakari, other members of the ad hoc Committee on Collation Centre are Prof. Anthonia T. Okoosi-Simbine (National Commissioner); Festus Okoye (National Commissioner/Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee); Chief Technical Adviser to INEC Chairman, Prof. Bolade Eyinla; and Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi.
INEC will also meet with the national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on January 4 to discuss the ongoing strike in relation to INEC’s preparation for the forthcoming general elections.
“The commission has similarly contacted another critical partner, the Nigeria Labour Congress. We are already in partnership with one of its affiliate unions, the National Union of Road Transport Workers, with which we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, on the movement of personnel and materials on election day. The commission plans to meet with the NLC next week.”