The reassignment of Mrs. Amina Zakari of the Health and Welfare department of INEC as chair of Election Collation Centre Committee has predictably generated a lot of controversy. Mrs. Zakari is very well educated. She went to good schools beginning from Queen’s College, Lagos, where she had the foundation to fly really high and she did. Her testimonial speaks glowingly about her competence. She was a Special Assistant to President Obasanjo, who is not known to suffer fools gladly and a hard driver for results. She had worked closely with Gen. Buhari as he then was at PTF. Professor Farooq Kperogi, a one-time reporter and until recently a columnist at Daily Trust newspaper, has told the whole world that Buhari got her a consultancy contract with Afri-Projects Consortium which was said to be a principal manager of the PTF projects. Buhari it will be remembered was chairman of PTF. At INEC Amina had worked as director of Operations and Logistics before being moved to Health and Welfare.
Even though the Presidency has come out denying any blood relationship between her and President Buhari, Professor Kperogi says the relationship is deeper. He would know. He was a reporter on Weekly Trust and had once interviewed Amina’s brother who was emir of Kazaure, Alhaji Najib Hussaini Adamu on his ascending the throne in 1999. For the assignment he stayed in the palace. Another brother of hers is Sulaiman Adamu, the current Minister of Water Resources. It was Dr. Junaid Mohammed who first spoke about the relationship between Mrs. Zakari and the President when she was named as acting Chairman of INEC. He said on the occasion that Buhari’s elder sister was married to Zakari’s father, Alhaji Hussaini Adamu, Emir of Kazaure. Upon the Emir’s departure from earthly life, he was succeeded by Alhaji Najib. The Presidency said only “an intermarriage occurred in their extended families.” All this is sufficient evidence of family ties. Since Professor Kperogi spoke, he has not been contradicted by the Presidency. It is natural to be wary about the ties, and it must leave our mouths agape on hearing Mrs. Amina Zakari is in charge of election collation centre. Of course, there are two or so other INEC commissioners on the committee. Let’s forget about their schedule. That Mrs. Zakari is linked with the sensitive centre, the final operational room of election result collation must be cause for legitimate concerns.
Whatever is capable of giving an impression of a meddling or tainted results ought to be avoided at all costs. It is not a question of integrity. It is not a question of Professor Yakubu being the Chief Electoral Commissioner nor is it enough that he is the Returning Officer of the Presidential Election. It is a matter of fidelity of election results, the credibility as it is perceived both by the anxious members of the public, contestants and their parties. It is a question of ethical principles. We are talking of an election that promises to be very keen, indeed. Why do we want to lay the foundation for insinuations and a disputed result, more so that the presidency is the real Prize and the giant Trophy the gladiators want to run away with? No matter how tenuous the relationship is with one of the contestants in the person of the President, Amina Zakari should recuse herself and be totally invisible at the arena. That is what is fair and decent.
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