By Ngozi Ekhator
Immediate-past Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has described the outcry over the appointment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s niece, Amina Zakari, as head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) collation centre for the general elections as a “moral burden on the president, his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the electoral commission in particular.”
He said the defence of the appointment by the Presidency and INEC was a further show of desperation to rig the February 16 presidential election despite the president’s glaring rejection by Nigerians.
Reacting in a statement on Saturday, by his Media Aide, Lere Olayinka, the former governor said: “A president, who took oath of office that he will be equitable and fair to all must be seen to be acting in accordance with this oath and the moment issues like this are raised, it is not for INEC and the Presidency to be rigid and act as if they don’t care.”
He described the Presidency’s defence that Amina Zakari was appointed by a PDP government as puerile and unacceptable, saying; “When Amina Zakari was appointed as INEC National Commissioner, President Buhari, her blood relation was not a presidential candidate. In fact, the President had even vowed never to run for the presidency after the 2011 election.
“Now that he is a candidate and also a sitting President, fairness and equity demand that she should step aside from playing any role in this election.”
The former governor said: “certain things can be good, but might not be morally right. This issue of Amina Zakari, a known blood relation of the APC presidential candidate functioning as INEC head of collation centre is morally wrong.
“Possibility of bias is being raised, INEC and the Presidency should be reminded of the position of Lord Denning on how the issue of likelihood of bias should be viewed. Even if Amina Zakari can be as impartial as she can be, nevertheless, now that Nigerians are thinking that there is real likelihood of her being bias, she should excuse herself. More so that she is not the only National Commissioner in INEC.
“Should the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar and other presidential candidates also have their relatives as part of INEC committee on collation of results?
“Therefore, the Presidency and INEC have the moral burden to prove to Nigerians that they are not in any way out to shortchanged them.”
Accusing the APC federal government of desperation to rig the elections, Fayose said “it won’t be a surprise if tomorrow, Nigerians are told that the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim has been extended, not because he has done well protecting Nigerians, but in furtherance to the plot to use the security agencies to rig the elections.”
He said former President Goodluck Jonathan’s patriotic decision to appoint Prof Atahiru Jega as INEC Chairman was the reason President Buhari won the 2015 election and the President should rather be concerned with sustaining that legacy of credible elections that he inherited instead of desperate pursuit of his reelection.