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Closer look at Amina-Buhari relationship


Amina And Buhari. weeklypost

Amina And Buhari. weeklypost

CONSANGUINEOUS relations are usually celebrated in Nigeria, because when you are related by blood to a person, there are family obligations and expectations that you look out for one another.

Last week, when the respected former lawmaker and former top civil servant, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, revealed that he knew the “Acting-Chairperson” of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “Mrs. Amina Zakari since childhood, and that her late father, the former Emir of Kazaure, was married to President Buhari’s elder sister.”

Alhaji Yakassai, in the interview conducted by Tribune of July 27, 2015 at page 22 added that President “Buhari lived with and spent a significant part of his early years in the home of Amina Zakari’s father”. He emphasised that “Amina Zakari’s father worked under me as a Permanent Secretary and was a close friend for many years.”

In effect, the ties of Mrs. Zakari to the President prior to this recent claim, was in fact much more familial than any of the parties had been willing to admit. It is a shock that reveals a streak of nepotism that elevates the courage and integrity of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, who had searched very widely and very carefully for a man of integrity to ensure that the impartiality of the electoral umpire was unblemished by suspicions of partisanship.

Since then, nobody has disputed the knowledge claims of the former lawmaker. It is disappointing that one area that the former President Jonathan had been extoled for, will become one of the early sources of disappointment by a President that has received so much goodwill from Nigerians to rise above such nepotism. Worst still is the loud silence of well-known leading civil right activists and lawyers on this breach of the constitution; except for the effable explanations of Professor Itse Sagay, the well-known academic and professor of law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who stated “that her acting as chairperson of INEC was valid and backed by relevant provisions of the constitution…” without citing any legal or constitutional backing for his argument. This is most unfortunate coming from one who should speak truth to authority.

The tragedy is that the same people who are by their silence or are openly encouraging the President now on this path, would be the ones who will turn round to pillory him, when they fail to get the anticipated favours they are expecting now from him. Those who want the President and his team to succeed must tell him the truth, when we do not expect appointment or contracts, but only wish for good governance based on the rule of Law.

Nepotism, tribalism and uncaring disposition towards the need for inclusivity has been at the pivot of most of the national disputes, which often threatens to tear this country to shreds on many occasions. From the first post-independence elections, most of the regional and national disputes have been underpinned by the reality and perception of social, cultural or ethnic exclusion. It is disappointing that a President, who was a major recurring role player in these ebbs and crest of our national history, can brook indifference to a main cause of our national recurrent malady.

In executing this indifference to the sensitivity of the national mood, the President needlessly reversed the decisions of a chairperson of INEC, whose unblemished integrity and impartiality ensured that he broke the jinx of political contest, between incumbent presidents and other political contestants. The President is probably acting like someone who having climbed up a tree with the help of a public ladder, has decided to break the ladder to prevent any other person from climbing the tree to enjoy its benefits.

In the haste to ensure an advantage for his relative, the President was willing to breach several laws, including the constitution that he swore less than 60 days ago, to defend and respect. First he caused the Head of the Civil Services to assume powers that he did not possess, by indicating in writing that he could prematurely terminate the tenure of an INEC National Commissioner outside the provision of Section 157 of the constitution, by claiming that the tenure of Mrs. Zakari had ended with that of Jega on June 30th , instead of the statutory date of July 21, 2015. Then in the same letter it was purported that the President had appointed Mrs. Zakari as an “Acting-Chairperson “ of INEC, a title that is unknown to the constitution, where the President  ought to derive his powers from; or any Nigerian law in relation to the office of INEC chair person. By this breach, the Presidential blunder has created a needless impasse for the national electoral body. As of today, the Commission which had only recently regained its respect, is seen as a body that is headed by an illegitimate leader.

Moreover, having lost an additional member who recently died after a protracted illness, the Commission is unable to form a legitimate quorum as required by Section 159(1) of the constitution that requires five members, whereas they are now three legal and legitimate members. Mrs. Zakari’s five years tenure like that of others, in line with Section 155 of the constitution, ended on July 21, 2015, even though she is still hanging around loosely.

The question that those of us who supported the president in the elections, and who will continue to support him, in the hope that he will help to unify rather than divide the country will like to be answered is; can the price of pleasing a relative be worth the destruction of a national institution like INEC? How will the President like to be remembered in terms of the integrity and quality of elections? Will he want to surpass the much vaunted achievements of Goodluck Jonathan on political tolerance and electoral integrity or will he return the country to the era of vanquished political enemies?

We are already disappointed by the appointment of the President’s relative on a title that is unknown to law, to head a sensitive institution like INEC. The President must restore our confidence by correcting the wrong perceptions already created about his intentions for the “independence” of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
• Adebisi Esq. writes from Oyo State.

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  • Excel Philips

    So PMB couldn’t find any other qualified Nigerian for this? He must realize that his credentials as Mr Integrity is at stake here. NEPOTISM is not part of the change Nigerians voted for. Where are all the civil rights people in Nigeria? Where are all the NGOs claiming to stand for truth and democracy in this country? This should not be allowed to stand.

    • Olori First

      They likely don’t want to jeopardise the possibility of their being included in the Ministerial list and other possible appointments and largesse! That is Nigeria for you!

      • Excel Philips

        Olori, you are just on point. Later, the ones that are unfortunate to make the list will start shouting about things PMB isn’t doing right. These people don’t really have our interests at heart. They’re always pretending to be doing so. Nigerians can’t be fooled any longer.

    • AA


    • MacGeorge

      APC apologists think that every other Nigerian is a fool. Can someone tell me why FIFA will not allow a Nigerian referee officiate in a match involving Nigeria and any other country? There is the doctrine of arms-length in certain transactions. This appointment is as savoury as GEJ appointing a Bayelsa born Chartered Accountant to audit the alleged missing funds in NNPC. Even with PwC cynics were not satisfied. GMB should do the needful by looking for a suitable replacement. As for those comparing Nigeria with the US; the truth is that we are miles apart.

  • Wooly Mammoth

    Her late father was married to buhari’s sister. Very nicely crafted. Are we to infer that she is his niece being his sisters daughter? Or step niece if she’s his sisters step daughter? Or even niece in law if their relationship is by marriage. The writer obviously knows that she is not his blood relation otherwise it would have been trumpeted here at the highest pitch and volume. The use of words like consanguinity which means blood relationship is clearly inappropriate as they are not and the accusation is clearly mischievous and is an indication of how underhanded the PDP can get.
    There is no provision by law that stipulates that the knowing the president excludes anyone from aspiring to high office. After all we all knew that President Jonathan had a very close working relationship with Prof Attahiru Jega when they were both on the Asuu executive and no one cast aspersions on his appointment. Similarly other political leaders have had relations in senior public office and no one had seen anything wrong at least not before now.

    • Abi Balogun

      I don’t know why we Nigerians are always crafting politics into everything, INEC is an independent body that conduct elections for the betterment of this country and shouldn’t be subjected to pressure from family member come election time. If my president wants to compensate Ms Zakari with an appointment he should nominate her for a senior or junior ministral position but not INEC Chairperson

  • Excel Philips

    So, in your opinion PMB’s desire to appoint the daughter of someone he once lived with as INEC Acting Head is Okay? INEC is a strategic institution, an electoral umpire and isn’t like any other. Those who truly love PMB can’t encourage him to go ahead with this. If it is a PDP Govt doing this, Nigerians will not express any surprise because their antecedents are well known. PMB mustn’t be allowed to travel on this road. It’s a huge question mark on his integrity credentials. Nigerians are watching.

  • AA

    Thank you, Mr Adebisi. It is extremely disheartening that there are still people who are defending the president’s illegal action. It is amazing how Nigerians can be blinded by political fanaticism and how that fanaticism can effectively harm our progress as a nation.

  • AA

    The truth is that many Nigerians just don’t understand modern statecraft. The late Ali Mazrui once talked about ‘monarchical tendencies’ in African politics. Many people think the state belongs to the head of state and that he can do whatever he pleases. They have no knowledge of ‘conflict of interest’. The president, governor, chairman, even vice chancellor is called ‘daddy’ and ‘mummy’ and they can do whatever they like. We even praise governors for paying salaries! I’m not surprised that some people will not see anything wrong with PMB’s action. Did one governor in the past not say, publicly, his sons had the right to get state government contracts while he was a sitting governor? We have a long way to go o!

  • Maigari

    A relevant piece of information yes but used rather dubiously. Yes Amina Zakari’s late father may have worked under Tanko Yakasai what then? Or does that preclude her from appointment to an office even if she is qualified? Using an absolutely devious method this opinion writer perhaps taking a cue from Yakasai who supported president Jonathan made an accusation against president Muhammadu Buhari without offering any factual evidence.
    The real issue is Was Amina Zakari qualified irrespective of her familial affiliation? take the specific of her appointment, the officer she “displaced” would have had to proceed on retirement this August anyway; what then is wrong with her appointment n this respect? That said there are legal avenues to anyone who sincerely believes that Amina Zakari should not have been appointed INEC Chair and provide the requisite proof. Surely the Nigerian Courts would vitiate that and made a ruling restoring whatever it is you wanted.

    • That relationship disqualified her. That’s the billion Naira question.

      • Maigari

        Fair that is your opinion but remember that Amina Zakari was a staff of INEC long before Muhammadu Buhari became president of the Republic. Surely you are not advocating whatever merits may have prompted the appointment just because a mischievous opponent has :revealed” that she is a relation of the president. Check the antecedents of Alhaji Tanko Yakasai first and leave out the Pull-Her-Down syndrome on account of her birth to a particular family.

        • Alhaji Yakasai is a patriot and a nationalist. He doesn’t pander to it is our turn or clannishness, He shoots straight. Madam Amina cannot in good conscience preside over INEC, It is not about her qualification, We are talking about INEC’s umpire, Due to the nature of our country, many wont accept Presidential election conducted by her. She is qualified, but I doubt; her appointment has a moral dilemma.

          • Maigari

            Well you have had your point made but I simply do not believe Mallam Tanko Yakasai “revealed” the information for patriotism given his position and sayings on the person of Buhari during the last campaign-and that is a view I hold. As to Amina’s position at INEC, I still believe that but for the he-is-not-one-of-us politics her appointment should have been a non issue but then with elders like Yakasai…..

          • Maigari

            Points made, it is rather time this stops. Mallam Yakasai was a self made -if there was one- but his policies were and are coloured by his late political leanings and that was and is not the issue as you inferred. The issue rests squarely with the view of her appointment being due to her mother;’s affiliation with PMB as you also asserted “That relationship disqualified her. That’s the billion Naira question.” and I feel that is wrong to be denied a deserved appointment just on account of your ‘accident birth’ as it were. The politicians are free to insinuate but we must not be blinded by political shenanigans,no. That is the point and issue.
            Regards for a fair comment.

        • Malam Tanko Yakasai has made his point and moved on. Though you called him mischievous in your earlier posting. I don’t expect you to hold a contrary opinion now.

          I would have been so happy to see a woman hold the office of INEC, an electoral umpire. She is very much qualified. She is educationally sound to lead. Being PMB ‘ S relative, it will be unfair to saddle her with such office. Remove sentiment and you will understand my point. Alhaji Yakasai is not the problem. He is just an honest man who choose to speak truth to power.

  • Pascal

    Was Mrs Gesla Khan,the Rivers State Resisdent Electral Commisioner,not a blood relation of Ex President Jonathan from Otueke,Bayelsa state.Even when Amechi raised alarm,both INEC,PDP and Jonathan bluffed him.So why is PDP as a reactionart party crying woff when nobody is chasing them.

    • STEVE

      Why must you lie to stupidly justify an obvious faux pas from Buhari. Please for the records, Mrs Khan has no affinity with Gej. Kindly be guided. Nigeria must rise above parochial sentiments.

  • Edward Osadebay

    So what if the INEC acting chairman is related to President Buhari? For crying out loud, this woman is the most senior INEC national commissioner. It is not like she is not qualify for the position. We must begin to de-emphasise this nepotism concept as if it is the height of moral uprightness when you sacrifice competence, experience and continuity on it’s alter. Buhari did not appoint this woman into INEC, actually, it was a PDP’s president that appointed her and Buhari has been contesting for President since 2003, is this writer trying to say that no due diligence was carried out on this woman? The authorities did not know she was related to Buhari? How has she influenced elections in favour of Buhari?. In the US, President Clinton once appointed his wife to head a major panel on health care reforms, Americans did not burst their veins and they did not scream nepotism all over the place. We must move away from this unnecessary Olympia height. We must start emphasising competence, experience, education and achievements not nepotism. This cynicism must stop.

    • Abi Balogun

      The analogy you wrote about the Clinton’s and this INEC gate is not the same. INEC is an independent body that conduct elections not a panel that will make recommendation to the president about health care reform like what Hillary did, i leave in USA my bother and i know what you were referring to but it’s not the same analogy.

  • Ifiok Sampson

    I had heard concerns about the relationship between the President and the Acting Chairman of INEC but I really didn’t think much about them until this one. At the back of my mind I thought those concerns were actually being propagated by hardline anti-Buharists. But all of that changed after I read this one. For a President whose USP (Unigue Selling Point) during the electioneering campaigns was his much vaunted integrity and incorruptibility, it’s definitely NOT a good omen. And where on earth are our civil right groups, the save Nigeria Group, our erudite SANs and the rest of them? Why has everyone decided to turn a blind eye to this very obvious attempt to shortchange us all?

  • utuep

    Sagay has lost all credibility so his response is predictable. Where are the Femi Falanas, Keyamos and CACOL? And you got it right. They are expecting favours so right now the President can do no wrong.

  • Gabriel

    Who were those consultants in PTF that people complained about? When Fela was sent to 10 years imprisonment for illegally possessing $5, who was it that was allowed to carry 53 suitcases of foreign currency into Nigeria free? You ain’t known nothing.

  • Olaiye123

    This is journalism and very constructive criticism or what I would call direction pointing way of being the true watchdog of the society.

  • ’70

    Maybe the silent activists know that she has integrity needed to lead, which us what we should all be concerned about and not who she is related to. We should rise above all this petty attitude and pit people of integrity at the helms if Nigeria’s affairs