National leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday rejected the appointment of Hajia Amina Zakari as the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The party based its action on the alleged loyalty of Zakari to Buhari and a governor from one of the North-West States.
President Buhari had caused a stir on Tuesday when he announced the appointment of Hajia Zakari a few hours after the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, handed over to the commission’s Tender Board Chairman, Ambassador Ahmed Wali.
At a press conference at the PDP national secretariat, Abuja, after the weekly meeting of the National Working Committee, NWC, the national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh said apart from the fact that appointment of INEC Acting National Chairman did not follow due process, the lady is “manifestly biased in favour of APC and she is a close acquaintance of the president.”
According to the PDP spokesman, “The PDP is particularly disturbed by the development in INEC where President Buhari, who knew all along that the immediate-past INEC Chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega would be leaving office by June 30, 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.
“Whereas the PDP recognizes the right and powers of the President to appoint the Chairman of INEC and the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), we reject attempts as in the case of the AGF to paint the process as transparent and objective when such was not the case, but brought to question the sincerity and commitment of the present administration to due process.
“In INEC, the PDP states in unequivocal terms that we cannot, as critical stakeholders fold our arms 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 demand that President Buhari changes her immediately.
“Our reasons include the fact that due process was not observed in the appointment and that Mrs. Zakari has shown in the last elections that she is manifestly bias in favour of the APC. Finally her appointment is a clear case of nepotism.
“We ask, if they trusted Prof. 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?
“With the prevailing record of Mr. President on appointments, it is unlikely that a substantive INEC Chairman will be appointed in the next one year. Is there a hidden agenda? 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?
Also yesterday, PDP released its zoning of the principal offices in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
According to Metuh, the principal officers are to be elected by the zonal caucuses of the party in the two chambers of the National Assembly as PDP will not impose any candidate on them.
“We expect our members- being minority members – to use their various zonal party caucuses to choose party principal officers to enable us provide effective opposition in the Senate. The party will not chose leaders for our senators.
“We will zone the position and expect the senators to fill in the positions. We have directed them to note that in accordance with the practice and convention of our party, the nomination process should take into consideration ranking, gender and religious sensitivities.”
The offices are zoned as follows for the Senate: Minority Leader, South-South; Minority Whip, North-Central; Deputy Minority Leader, North-East and Deputy Minority Whip, South-West.
In the House of Representatives the South-South is to produce the Minority Leader; Minority Whip, went to the North-West; Deputy Minority Leader to the South-East and the Deputy Minority Whip was zoned to the North-East.
The elections are expected to be concluded within one week.

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