By Our Reporters
President Muhammadu Buhari of the Ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, appears to have prepared the ground to rig himself to power in the 2019 Presidential election despite the repeated assurance to Nigerians that the elections will be” free, fair and credible”.
He may have given the impression that the elections need not be a ”do or die affair”, insisting that he will deliver on his promises of providing a ”level playing field at the polls ” to ensure peace, security and inclusiveness that Nigerians would be proud of a country that could hold its own among the comity of nation. That was how far he could go.
The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, have raised alarm that the Katsina state born President may be speaking with the other side of the month as he did not mean what he had said. The party had criticised the appointment of Amina Zakari , a blood relation of the President by Mahmood Yakubu a professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission to oversee the National Collation and Logistics Committee, which gives her Committee exclusive powers to oversee the Collation centers throughout the country during the election.
The Opposition PDP believes that the appointment was at the instance of Buhari, who is desperate to return to power in 2019 to finally deal with those opposed to him in the country. The Executive Order No. 6, which had barred certain individuals from travelling outside the country speaks volume.
Kola Ologboniyan, the party Spokes person said it was wrong for Zakari to Head the Committee in charge of collation of results in the same election in which Buhari was a Candidate. In apparent reaction to the appointment, Ologboniyan , disclosed that Yakubu, the INEC boss has confirmed that his neutrality during the election is in doubt.
He stopped short at saying that the INEC helmsman has been compromised as he has bowed to pressure from the Presidency and the APC ruling cabal to open the way for the self-succession of the 76 year-old President Buhari. He maintained that there was no way the votes cast during the Presidential election would count as long as Zakari remains the Head of the Commission Committee on National Collation and Logistics.
Appealing to Abdulsalami Abubakar, a retired Army General and former Head of State and incidentally the Chairman of the National Peace Committee to intervene to reverse the appointment , noting that Buhari and Yakubu, the INEC Chairman have set the stage for a very huge political crisis ” insisting that such appointment was capable of ”derailing the nation’s electoral process”.
”We urge the United Nations and global democratic institutions to take copious look of the obnoxious appointment by the nation’s Electoral umpire boss. It would be recalled that the United States has closed its Embassy in Abuja and Consulate General center in Lagos , blaming it on the government shutdown which had entered its 13th day as at Friday, January 4, 2018.
Although , the Embassy officials had said that it would be opened soon as the US-Mexico funding issue was resolves. Many believe that that the US government have been looking for ways to close down American centers in Nigeria because of the upcoming general election but the government shut down may have provided ammunition for the State Department to do to avoid been accused of taking sides in the Nigeria Presidential election.
The PDP have every reason to fear that with Zakari as the Chairman of the Collation and Logistics Committee , she will favor Buhari, the uncle, who had been carrying her along over the years even while not in government.
The Coalition of Political parties, CUPP, may have joined the ranks of the PDP to condemn the Zakari’s appointment to Head the INEC Collation and Logistics Committee, describing it as a ploy to rig next month Presidential election in favour of Buhari.
Daniel Alabra, a Political analysts and Special Adviser to Seriake Dickson, governor of Bayelsa state on Media and Communication , described Zakari’s appointment as highly” condemnable”, adding that ”Nigerians are being taken for granted by the despicable ruling cabal” in the Presidency.
According to him, Buhari had made the appointment because of his desperation to impose himself on Nigerians in 2019, noting that there is no way he can guarantee a free, fair and credible elections as promised. He querried: if the PDP and the other political parties boycott the 2019 Presidential election, will INEC still conduct the 2019 Presidential election with only Buhari as a Candidate?
Recall that when former President Goodluck Jonathan wanted to appoint new National Electoral Commissioners during the 2015 general elections, he had requested Buhari , the then Presidential Candidate of the APC, to nominate a name . He did not hesitate in giving out Amina Zakari’s name to him and who incidentally became a very powerful Commissioner in the Commission.
But for public outcry, Buhari , according to sources, could have appointed her the INEC Chairman, when he won the 2015 , Presidential election to compensate her for her good. Indeed, the President has not stopped using her to achieve the party purpose in recent elections in the state. This is evident going by what happened at the Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections where the INEC iron lady and security operatives were said to have played key roles to ensure that APC won the two states.