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 who was guest on Sunrise Daily argued that the PDP is misinforming Nigerians.
According to Aliyu, “the PDP are crying wolf and are trying to misinform Nigerians because Amina Zakari is not a blood relation of President Muhammadu Buhari”.
Daring the PDP to prove him wrong, Aliyu said the President is from Daura in Katsina state while Amina Zakari is from Jigawa state.
He further argued that the outcry over Zakari’s new appointment is poor show by the PDP, especially because she was appointed “a national commissioner of the INEC by the previous administration led by Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan since 2011”.
Aliyu further argued that he sees no bias in Zakari’s appointment owing to the fact that she has been in the INEC for quite a while, hence her being chosen to chair the collation committee is most likely based on her years of experience.
Speaking on what he thinks Zakari’s new role entails, Aliyu said, “I want to believe that her being chairman of this committee does not have to do with the issue of announcing the results or even accepting or collecting the results from the returning officers”.
He said the INEC chairman is by law the authorized person to announce election results “and he will not abdicate his responsibility”.
“What Amina’s role seems to be to my own understanding is purely an administrative and logistics support and that may be informed by her experience, she is the longest-serving commissioner among these sets of commissioners,” Aliyu stressed.
He added, “She has witnessed the last election as a national commissioner, she is in charge of welfare so naturally setting-up the venue, administration, and support of the collation center would be in her domain”.
Aliyu said the PDP should be more concerned about “is the strengthening of this institution which is supposed to be an independent one, such that individuals will not consider applying any unwholesome caprices”.
The Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation spokesman said more is expected of the PDP, other than putting the nation in a bad light as the international community watches Nigeria as the country heads to the polls.
Reacting to claims by Aliyu Abdullahi, a PDP presidential campaign council spokesman, Kazeem Afegbua said the history of Amina’s engagement in INEC has been a subject of “public criticism” for quite some time.
Kazeem who was also a guest on the Channels Television breakfast programme Sunrise Daily said “we have seen her roles in previous elections, and so to that effect, we know she is being accused of being partisan in the way and manner she has been conducting herself within the INEC and her responsibility, hence, somebody cannot just come and rub off all that”.
He said it did not matter if Zakari is from Jigawa while Buhari is from Daura, noting that they can be related.
“If we say somebody is a niece, that means maybe the mom is a sister to President Buhari and this a daughter to a woman who is a sister to the president.”
Kazeem said the relationship between Zakari and Buhari is not the main issue, stressing that the bane of discussion is the standards upon which INEC operates.
He said, “INEC must as a matter of responsibility allow the electoral process to be seen to be transparent, to be devoid of any partisan inclinations to an extent that the participants in the electoral process would see that INEC is fair enough in the way and manner in which they deploy staff (whether ad-hoc or permanent) in the process of conducting elections”.