…Amina Zakari and electoral commission Nigeria needs

Mrs Amina Zakari as acting chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Mrs Amina Zakari as acting chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Be that as it may, I have a job to do and I am set out to do that job.” “I was appointed by a PDP government.” “People should watch out for what I can do.” “My tenure would have expired on July 21st but my letter of appointment as Acting Chairman claimed categorically I should act pending when a new commission is put in place.

INEC is an independent organization as enshrined in the constitution, and all INEC staff are aware of that, we have all signed on to an oath of neutrality, so I think as a Nigerian your main concern should be when you are given a task you should be conscious enough to remove your personal feeling from the job.     “I think we should not detract ourselves from the issues at hand.

I have been in the commission, I am a National Commissioner, I passed through the Senate Screening to become a National Commissioner and by virtue of that, I am appointed Acting Chairman of the Commission. So there shouldn’t have been much controversy…”     Zamfara State-born Hagiya Zakari comes across with direct, can-do words, very much like Prof Dora Akunyili, the late Director General (DG) of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Were they born as twins by the same parents, they would be somewhat identical, almost factory-loaded with the same operating genes. Akunyili was hard-working, intelligent, focused.

So Hagiya Amina sounds.   Both had served in various capacities, Akunyili later in life after a distinguished career as NAFDAC /DG was Information Minister, Zakari, notable for being nominated into the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, first by former President Olusegun Obasanjo whose nose for competent people he can trust to be stars on the job was never denied by his critics, except on account of a few.

Cleared by the then Senate, she also has the distinction of fine career at INEC, taking her through the administrations of Presidents Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (late) and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Strikingly, Zakari and Akunyili were said close to Buhari notably in Presidential Task Force (PTF) set up by late General Abacha with the President then as Chairman: both working with him, Akunyili in charge of projects in the South East, including her home state, Anambra, Zakari directly with him.

Buhari is speculated tick Akunyili for Obasanjo’s appointment, an indication that he trusted her integrity and competence. And it seems the president’s trust and confidence in the Acting Chairman fetched the job.

However, INEC, the nation’s election umpire is a different game, a high-pressure, extremely sensitive business. All that should have been done was direct out-going Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega to name her and not Ambassador Ahmed Wali: Acting in the commission is routine and Zakari is not the first to be so appointed, except that in her case, what is publicly said of her role in the last election especially by PDP has clamped negativity around her.

Part of the more serious failures of elections in the past was public perception of the INEC as a willing tool in the hands of the government at the centre to manipulate elections for the party interest.

Elections are sensitive affair in the country. Jega received acclaim right from take-off not just for his immense qualification and sterling public profile but coming from the North (Kano), he was appointed by a Southern President.

Once the public or any section of the public, including parties not in the Federal Government begin to press misgivings about appointment, particularly key ones like chairman or Acting appointed from above, it is safer to avoid it. It is to be taken that Zakari’s Acting will end on that note for a new board to be properly reconstituted.

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