We Won’t Recognize INEC Headed by Zakari – PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it will not recognise an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headed by Amina
Zakari, whom Buhari appointed chairman of thevcommission on Tuesday .

PDP had immediately rejected the appointment and called for Zakari’s sack, saying her choice was “influenced by personal relationship with the presidency and one of the new governors of the north-west, ostensibly to pave the way for the APC at the electoral tribunals”.

On Saturday, the party released a statement to say it would continue to demand the removal of Zakari as acting chairman INEC, as resolved at the 403rd meeting of its National Working
Committee (NWC) meeting, despite attacks on its officials by the presidency.

It further said it was privy to the fact that “Zakari who has a strong relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari and a very
prominent APC northwest 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”.

PDP alleged that there were moves to use the period of Zakari’s stay as head of the commission to tinker with electoral personnel and materials for the two states in favour of the
APC. “President Buhari, in appointing Mrs. Zakari, failed to take into cognizance the moral call to detach himself from the operation of the
electoral body, thereby completely eroding the independence of the commission,” Olisa Metuh, its spokesman, said.

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“The issue at stake is not that of 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 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 staffer of Afri-Project Consortium, a company well associated
with the president?
“Is he by any means feigning ignorance of the fact that 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?

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“How much of Mrs Zakari’s roles in the last general election 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.

“Whilst 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.

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“Conversely, we caution that presidential spokespersons; in representing the president, [they] 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.” Insisting that Zakari must be removed, the party 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, we cannot sit back and watch too early in the day, its gradual destruction by partisan interest.”

It 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.”

The PDP emphasised that as long as the acting chairman remains in office, “it would not recognise the electoral body as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but as
the National Electoral Commission (NEC).”