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Row over Zakari, new INEC boss

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The appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as the Acting National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is raising dust, as the PDP, and the presidency are in disagreement over the propriety of her new post.

The PDP on Wednesday through its national publicity chairman, Olisa Metuh, rejected her appointment and asked that she be sacked immediately because her appointment was allegedly facilitated by a relationship with the Presidency and ties with some new governors in the north.

The opposition party equally alleged that Zakari’s appointment would give the APC an upper hand at the various election petitions tribunals.

“The PDP has declared the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as unacceptable and demands that President (Muhammadu) Buhari changes her immediately,” Metuh, said at a crowded press briefing in Abuja.

The PDP alleged that the new acting INEC chairman, who is due for retirement as national commissioner on July 31, 2015, “is too close to the Presidency.”

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Metuh at the briefing however said that his party would want Zakari to state her alleged closeness to the Presidency and one of the governors of the APC from the North-West.

It was gathered that the PDP might be referring to the period Zakari served as Secretary, Health and Human Service; Secretary, Social Development; and Acting Secretary, Agriculture and Rural Development at the Federal Capital Territory Administration in 2004.

During the period, the new Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, was the minister in charge of the territory.

Reacting to the PDP allegations, the Presidency said Zakari’s appointment was based on merit.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement on Wednesday, said that President Buhari followed due process in appointing Zakari to head the commission in acting capacity.

Adesina’s statement read in part, “Contrary to Mr. Metuh’s allegations, President Buhari’s appointment of Mrs. Zakari as acting INEC chairman was based entirely on merit, her vast experience in the internal operations of INEC and the President’s commitment to affirmative action in support of gender equality, because, apart from being fully qualified for the position, Mrs. Zakari was the only woman among the six commissioners considered.

“Due process was certainly followed in Mrs. Zakari’s appointment.

“Mr. Metuh’s spurious claims of her appointment having been influenced by ‘personal relationship with the Presidency and a governor in the North-West to pave the way for the APC’ at the election tribunals should be disregarded by the public.

“The allegations are nothing but falsehoods contrived by Mr. Metuh to unjustly denigrate a President popularly elected by Nigerians to undo the damage done to the nation by years of PDP rule.”

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