Amina Zakari has been appointed as the head of election collation centre for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the 2019 elections.
2019: Outrage over appointment of Buhari’s niece, Zakari as INEC head of collation centre Amina Zakari and Buhari INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the announcement on Thursday.
Amina Zakari has been a key member of INEC as she has heald certain positions in the commission. However, her recent appointment has sparked outrage, with many alleging the appointment is one of the plots by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, party to rig the 2019 election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Those decrying her appointment claim she is the niece of President Muhammadu Buhari. According to the PDP’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, “While Prof. Mahmood Yakubu can no longer be trusted to conduct the 2019 general election, it is public knowledge that Mrs Amina Zakari, the INEC Director in charge of Operations and ICT, is a direct blood relation of Mr President and as such, we believe that she cannot be an impartial arbiter in an election involving her uncle.”
But the question remains: Who is this Amina Zakari? Amina Zakari, in a report by happeningnownews.com, is the former Acting Chairman of INEC. She took over the commission after the former Chairman, Attahiru Jega’s tenure elapsed in 2015. Amina Zakari is the first woman to chair the commission, though in acting capacity. She is a princess of the Kazaure Emirate of Jigawa State who completed her primary education in Kano state. She was the Senior Consultant/Chief Pharmacist working on PTF-funded health projects across Nigeria.
She once served as Special Assistant to the President from 2004 to 2007. She was former National Electoral Commissioner at INEC. She had also chaired the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) of INEC. She was chairman of the INEC Planning Monitoring and Strategy Committee effective November 2014.
Amina Zakari was allegedly first described as Buhari’s niece on July 27, 2015, in a report by Nigerian Tribune which had claimed that President Buhari was related to Amina Zakari. It had quoted a supporter of then president Jonathan, Alhaji Tanko Yakassa as saying, “I know that the woman from her childhood. Her father worked with me as my Permanent Secretary before later he became the Emir of Kazaure. We maintained a cordial relationship until he passed on.
However, the relationship between him and Buhari is something that I know of. Anybody around during that time also can confirm this. He (the late Emir) married the senior sister to Buhariand he (Buhari) started his childhood in the late emir’s house. The mother of this woman (Zakari) was either the first or second wife. Aside from that, Buhari stayed with him for sometime in Kazaure. I know that the relationship is true.”
However, Yakassai had, on September 8, 2015, in another interview on Channels TV, denied Amina Zakari’s relations with Buhari. He had said that his actual words were manipulated by some parties. He was later quoted to have said that “Somebody added something because I did not criticize her or her appointment. She is my daughter and a friend to her father was at one time my permanent secretary. Her mother is a friend to my senior wife. She is a friend to some of my children. I see no reason why I should criticize her.”
He had also said that Amina’s “neutrality should not be contested on the grounds of familiarity with the president because she is entitled to the post as a Nigerian and a qualified professional.”
But today’s appointment has shown many Nigerians condemning the INEC and alleging the commission has been coerced into becoming tool for the rigging of the 2019 election. What is your take?