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Prof Mahmood Stirs More Controversy By Absolving Amina Zakari Of Being Buhari’s Niece

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman.

The Oasis Reporters

January 5, 2019

Amina Zakari.

INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu has unwittingly stirred more controversy by dabbling into a controversy about whose niece his newly appointed Head of Collation at the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) is, or not.

The People’s Democratic Party, PDP has accused the All Progressive Congress, APC Of a plot to rig Nigeria’s forthcoming elections, and demanded for the removal of Amina Zakari, a National Commissioner who they insist is President Buhari’s niece.

The opposition Party’s Presidential Campaign Organization (PPCO) has asked the National Assembly to commence the process of the removal of Mrs. Amina Zakari, from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The party’s position is predicated on reports that Amina Zakari is related to President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to a statement on Friday, the party claimed that the APC seeks to use Amina Zakari as a tool to rig the forthcoming election.

It said, “Having been rejected by Nigerians, Buhari is now using her as virus to compromise the independence of the commission, manipulate the electoral process and rig the Presidential election for him”.

The PPCO held that a credible electoral commission must be completely impartial, transparent, totally independent and immune from external control by interested entities.

They claimed that “these are qualities INEC can no longer lay claim to as long as Amina Zakari remains a member of the commission”.

“By foisting Mrs. Amina Zakari to lead the final process of the election, President Buhari is seeking a way to annex INEC, practically, take over the collation of results, and announce himself the winner” the opposition party alleged.

The PDP also said its attention has been brought to a secret meeting led by Zakari and other top INEC officials.

According to the party, the INEC officials met with “members of the Buhari Campaign Organization (BCO) in Abuja on ways to introduce the controversial Incidence Form under a new name and use such to manipulate the collation of results”.

The party called on all Nigerians and the international community to pay close attention to the events that lead up to the presidential elections.

Previous Nigerian presidents have tried to avoid controversy by appointing INEC’s leadership from regions that are far from theirs.
Unlike President Buhari, who picked Prof Mahmood from his same northern region and religion, former President Goodluck Jonathan picked a Hausa/Fulani, Prof Attahiru Jega from the North and also a Muslim. Jonathan is Christian, from the South.

Initially, Buhari’s preference for the INEC chair was Amina Zakari, who acted for a while. Opposition to the plan forced him to pick Mahmood Yakubu. But Zakari’s name keeps popping up and many say she worked with President Buhari in the PTF, which Buhari headed under General Sani Abacha.

Aliyu Abdullahi, the deputy media director of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, has said that contrary to the claims made by the PDP, Amina Zakari is not a blood relative of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Amina Zakari was appointed on Thursday to chair the INEC Committee on Collation Centre, a development that stirred debate across the country, with the opposition party claiming that Amina is a niece to the president.

In dismissing claims made by the PDP, Aliyu Abdullahi has argued that the PDP is trying to misinform Nigerians because Amina Zakari is not a blood relation of President Muhammadu Buhari” who is from Daura in Katsina state while Amina Zakari is from Jigawa state.

Not satisfied with letting the matter rest on the laps of party officials or family members, Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman lent his professorial aura to the argument by stating “categorically”, that Amina Zakari who was appointed before him to INEC, is not Buhari’s niece. His reason is that Buhari hails from Katsina State, while Amina Zakari is from Jigawa State.

Many Nigerians felt that such an endorsement was an overkill, and less than professorial, because he neglected to mention that the distance between the two contiguous states is just a stone throw between two villages, and in fact, one cannot enter some parts of Jigawa state without passing through Katsina State or vice versa.

Indeed, in northern Nigerian relationships, it is not uncommon to find a Buhari from Katsina or Bornu marrying an Aisha from Adamawa or Bauchi.
As a matter of fact, I who is from Delta State in largely Christian South South has bloodline nieces and nephews from largely Muslim Bornu, mixed Kaduna and largely Muslim Hausa Kano. Different languages, different religions and different cultures, yet family bonds keep us together. It was therefore an insult on sensibilities for a whole professor to have adduced such infantile reasons. He should have kept away from that controversy and maintained his dignity. Professors must not get into every little thing, or one day, they will be doubted.

More so as Nigerians have complained in the past about President Buhari’s one sided appointments that show bias to his family, region and religion. This is what is making this decision stink, and since Amina Zakari’s appointments have been trailed by controversy right from when Buhari’s tenure began, the wisest option is to put her in a position that would not give room for suspicion.

The following tweets show how Nigerians view this development:

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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