A National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Amina Zakari, has dismissed reports that she is a blood relation of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Peoples Democratic Party and other political groups as well as individuals had alleged that Zakari, who was, on Thursday, named by the commission as its Chairman, Advisory Committee and Presidential Election Collation Centre Committee, was a niece of Buhari.
They, therefore, submitted that she was not qualified to preside over the collation of the presidential poll’s results.
By virtue of her position, she will coordinate the collation of results for the February 16 presidential poll, in which Buhari, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the election, will contest the presidential ticket for a second term in office.
The Presidency has however debunked the allegation that Zakari is a blood relation to the President. It also explained that the national commissioner was appointed to INEC during the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The PDP, the Inter-Party Advisory Council and several political parties had called on INEC to rescind the appointment of Zakari as the chairman of the committee on National Collation Centre.
But in an interview with the BBC, which was aired on Saturday, however, Zakari, who is a former acting Chairman of INEC, said she had served as a special adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
She further stated that she was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan as an INEC commissioner and she had done the job diligently for the last eight years.
Zakari added, “I’m not his (Buhari) niece; I am not his cousin and, on this job, I was appointed since 2010 by President Jonathan. Prior to that, I was appointed as SA to President Obasanjo and I have done my work conscientiously over the years as a patriotic citizen of Nigeria.
“I don’t think I should be distracted now that elections are coming. I will continue doing my work. I will continue to serve my country to the best of my ability with the best of intentions. President Muhammadu Buhari is my President as everybody else’s President.
“He is not my cousin; he is not my uncle as is being claimed but I know him as my leader and the leader of the nation.”
Also, Afenifere said Zakari should not be allowed to participate in the February and March general elections.
It claimed that she played an ignoble role in the governorship elections held in Osun and Ekiti states in 2018.
The Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said this in Lagos on Friday, stressing that retaining Zakari, despite the public outcry against her nomination, meant that the commission was not ready to be transparent in the conduct of the next elections.
The Afenifere spokesman said the alleged “reprehensible activities” of Zakari alone had created some credibility problem for INEC.
Odumakin said, “I think the problem with Amina Zakari is that she has become a red flag. The INEC chairman said she would be in charge of the collation centre and not the election but if you look at the roles she played in the elections in Osun, Ekiti and others, you will see that she is notorious and she has become an embarrassment to the commission. She has removed a lot of credibility from INEC.
“Really, Nigeria should insist that this woman should not be part of the 2019 elections. She should be removed.”
In the same vein, Alhaji, the presidential candidate of the National Rescue Movement, said INEC had shown that it was not ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
He flayed the INEC for appointing Zakari, who he described as Buhari’s biological relation, to be in charge of the collation centre for the presidential poll.
He stated, “We condemn her appointment in its entirety. This appointment shows clearly that Buhari is not ready to conduct free and fair elections. Amina Zakari should not have any business in INEC, let alone be in charge of the presidential election collation centre.
“She has biological relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari and a senior official of INEC. Then tell me, where is the independence of INEC?
“We have seen the handwriting clearly on the wall that the 2019 elections will not be free and fair. The elections will not be free and fair because Muhammadu Buhari has become the judge in his own case. What I mean here is that his niece is presiding at the collation centre.”