The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has demanded the removal of the newly appointed acting chairperson of the Independent national Electoral Commission, INEC, Amina Zakari.
Ms. Zakari was appointed as head of INEC by President Muhammadu Buhari hours after its former chairman, Attahiru Jega, handed over to Ahmed Wali, a national commissioner there.
Addressing a press conference in his office Wednesday, PDP’s publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, said the party was disturbed by the development in INEC where Mr. Buhari, who knew all along that the immediate-past INEC Chairman, Mr. Jega, would be leaving office by June 30, but had to wait for him to handover to one of the national commissioners only to reverse it immediately, thereby injecting bad blood in the commission.
“The situation in INEC since the PDP government reformed and granted it operational autonomy has been peaceful, but Tuesday’s untidy overruling of Prof. Jega and appointing of Mrs. Amina Zakari as acting chairman which, we gathered 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, has completely eroded public trust in the commission,” he said.
Mr. Metuh said although the PDP recognizes the right and powers of the President to appoint the Chairman of INEC and others, such as that of the Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, which was done recently, he said the party rejects attempts to paint the process as transparent and objective when such was not the case.
“In INEC, the PDP states in unequivocal terms that we cannot, as critical stakeholders, fold our hands and watch while the Presidency perpetuate actions that diminish the independence of the electoral commission.
“The PDP has declared the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as unacceptable and demands that President Buhari changes her immediately,” he said.
The PDP spokesperson said due process was not observed in Mrs. Zakari’s appointment and that “Mrs. Zakari has shown in the last elections that she is manifestly biased in favour of the APC”.
Mr. Metuh said the appointment smacks of nepotism.
Mr. Metuh also said since the APC appeared to have trusted the ex Chairman of INEC, Mr. Jega, and commended him for conducting free and fair elections, “why would they not trust him on who to hold forth in the commission until a substantive Chairman is appointed, rather than appointing someone who is retiring from the commission in the next three weeks?”
Mr. Buhari, APC not inspiring confidence
Mr. Metuh said the way Mr. Buhari and the party go about the business of governance so far does not inspire confidence among Nigerians.
He said with the prevailing record of Mr. Buhari on appointments, it is unlikely that a substantive INEC Chairman will be appointed in the next one year.
He therefore wondered whether there was a hidden agenda in the appointment of Mrs. Zakari.
“Has Mrs. Zakari been handed a script to act given that we have cases in the tribunals in addition to the forthcoming elections in Kogi and Bayelsa?
“As you are aware, today marks exactly thirty-two days of the inauguration of a new administration under the APC, which was elected into power over three months ago on the basis of their numerous promises to the Nigerian people.
“Even though this government has continued to plead for patience, we are worried that indications from President Muhammadu Buhari and his party do not inspire desired confidence in the citizenry that they are adequately equipped and ready to chart a direction for the enormous challenges of governance.
“In the last one month, instead of a journey to change as they claim, all we have witnessed are avoidable tension, wrangling within the ruling party, disruption of legislative activities in our National Assembly, painful economic stagnation, pronouncement of voodoo achievements and overall uncertainty in the polity all due to the apparent inability of our respected President to provide leadership.
“We have a President and a party that have since thirty–two days been unable to decide on rudimentary appointments such as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief of Staff to the President, ministers and his demand for 15 Special Advisers as approved by the PDP controlled Seventh Assembly since June 5, 2015,” he said.
Mr. Metuh said the PDP finds it “sycophantic, insincere and the height of deceit” for the APC to continue to deceive President Buhari by parading voodoo achievements and pretending that all is well with the nation even when it is obvious that the government has not been able to locate its bearing.
The PDP, he said, also finds it unacceptable APC’s continued playing on the intelligence of the people by dishing out imaginary achievements in the media even when it is evident to all that the nation is stagnating, a clear indication, he said, that the ruling party and the President lacks direction and capacity to meet the expectations of Nigerians.
“It is indeed amusing that a party in power in a press conference on Tuesday claimed progress in the fight against terrorism when the effort has lost steam in the last thirty-two days with insurgents, who under the Goodluck Jonathan administration were already at the verge of surrender in the Sambisa now surging back into the country.
“How can a political party attempt to deceive Nigerians and the President when the economy has plummeted under their watch with a terrifying crippling of foreign and domestic investments and the stock market losing over N350 billion because of the prevailing uncertainty and confusion in the system?
“More astonishing is the fact that a ruling party and a government of a sovereign nation and strong international voice like Nigeria are parading mere promissory notes from foreign interests as achievements, instead of settling down to galvanize resources and potentials that abound in our country.
“If by the declaration of the APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that President Buhari has done excellently well thus far, then Nigerians should not expect anything from this administration,” Metuh said.
Mr. Metuh advised the APC to “henceforth desist from unnecessary propaganda which ought to have ended with the campaigns, settle down and help the President form a government and chart a direction for the nation”.
“While we restate our respect for the office and person of the President, the Presidency and the APC must know that though Nigerians are wiling to give them time to perform, they are tired of their unfounded excuses of handover notes coming late; of meeting empty treasury, of clearing the so-called Augean Stable among nuances of other frivolous claims.
“What Nigerians expect today is a government that will hit the ground running, face the challenges of governance and commence implementation of its campaign promises,” he said.