13 Political Parties Back Buhari On Zakari’s Appointment, Blast PDP

Amina ZakariThe Coalition of Progressive Political Parties, COP3, an umbrella body for 13 registered political parties in Nigeria, has condemned the statement issued by the Peoples Democratic Party on the appointment of the acting chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Amina Zakari.

President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Mrs. Zakari acting chairman of INEC, hours after the outgoing chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, had handed over to a national commissioner from Sokoto State, Ambassador Ahmed Wali.

The PDP condemned Mr. Buhari’s action and demanded its reversal, saying Zakari’s appointment smacked of nepotism.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday and signed by the Chairman of the Coalition and National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Movement, Mallam Bashir Ibrahim, the COP3 decried what it described as “the dangerous precedent, whereby a political party is trying to decide for the country who becomes the INEC chairman”.

A function, Mr. Ibrahim said, is the constitutional responsibility of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Assembly.

In reference to a statement made in Abuja on Wednesday by the PDP spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, rejecting the appointment of Mrs. Zakari, the coalition warned that “any interference by political parties in the appointment of INEC officials is tantamount to politicising the process and the Commission itself, which is capable of creating dangerous schism in the Commission and generating unnecessary tension in the country”.

“INEC is an independent election management body which must be insulated from politics and irresponsible politicking”, Mr. Ibrahim said.

“The power of and procedure for the appointment of the Chairman of INEC is a constitutional matter and not subject of bargaining by political parties, especially those who are yet to come to terms with the fact that Nigeria is on a very strong change trajectory. INEC is also a regulator of political parties. It is an anomaly for the parties, which the Commission regulates, to dictate who becomes the chairman. Obviously, for some parties, it is still midnight.

“Mrs. Zakari was not appointed to the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. She was appointed as INEC National Commissioner by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010 and by the time she was appointed acting INEC chairman, she had the distinction of being the most senior INEC National Commissioner in terms of time served.

“She is well educated and had served the Commission as chairman of a number of its committees, including the sensitive Election and Political Party Monitoring Committee during President Jonathan’s administration. If she is good to be a national commissioner of INEC and chairman of its committees under President Jonathan, then she is good to be the Commission’s acting chairman at any other time.

“PDP is fully aware that this is not the first time a transition is taking place in INEC. As recent as 2010 when the tenure of former INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu expired, he handed over the commission to INEC national commissioner, Philip Umeadi, before late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua decided to appoint commissioner, Solomon Soyebi, as acting chairman”.

The coalition, therefore, warned PDP and its “overzealous spokesperson” to steer clear of INEC and desist from any design to create schism in the commission in the name of opposition politics.

“Opposition politics must be responsible politics”, Mr. Ibrahim said. “After suffering for sixteen interrupted years under its institutional mismanagement, Nigerians deserve a respite from PDP’s meddlesomeness and brinkmanship. PDP’s acidic and divisive politics has been rejected by Nigerians in the last general election”.

The statement continued “We advise that they try some modesty and learn from their past mistakes instead of trying to give Nigerians more of the same”.

Meanwhile, the United Progressive Party has congratulated Mrs. Zakari on her appointment.

“We commend President Muhammadu Buhari for exercising his prerogative of power under the Nigerian Constitution in appointing Mrs. Amina Zakari as the acting chairman of INEC”, the party said. “We do not share in the unwarranted propaganda by the Peoples Democratic Party on an appointment in which the president merely exercised his inherent powers. The issue of lack of due process will arise if Mrs. Zakari is confirmed the substantive chairman of the commission without passing the screening and approval of the Nigerian Senate”.