Hajia Amina Bala Zakari: The Many Controversies President Muhammadu Buhari Courted For Himself Puts Nigeria At The Crossroad This 2019?

By Ikenga Chronicles January 6, 2019

Hajia Amina Bala Zakari: The Many Controversies President Muhammadu Buhari Courted For Himself Puts Nigeria At The Crossroad This 2019?

–Ikenna Asomba

Over the last four days, Yours Truly, has been on hiatus on this space. Bear with me my Beloved, Great and Wonderful friends. Without you all, the intellectual conversations for entrenchment of democracy and good governance in Nigeria, is defeated.

So, last Thursday, during my hiatus, Hajia Amina Bala Zakari, Buhari’s purported niece or call her his god-daughter was appointed by Professor Yakubu Mahmood, chairman of Nigeria’s apex electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as Chairperson, Advisory Committee and Election Collation Centre Committee?

Before this latest appointment, Amina Bala Zakari already holds forth as one of INEC’s five National Commissioners.

Amina Bala Zakari? A woman who ought to have left INEC since July 21, 2015, was last Thursday, double-barreled with two other portfolios in INEC?

Well, having understudied Nigeria’s political sojourn, dating back 1960, I must confess that I have never seen a President who loves courting controversies like incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since coming on board on May 29, 2015, through his actions and inactions, it could be proven beyond every reasonable doubt that President Buhari and controversies are like siamese twins.

Infact, many a Nigerians, like Yours Truly, are compelled to take with a pinch of salt, any denial that Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, in that viral leaked audio, didn’t describe Buhari as “a president who never takes advice or reads.”

It would be easier for a camel to pass through the eyes of a needle than to convince many a Nigerians, including Yours Truly, that Amaechi was not referring to Buhari but to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

So, Nigeria’s much-awaited and highly tensed 2019 Presidential Election is just some 40 days away, and BOOM, Hajia Amina Bala Zakari, who ought to have left INEC since July 21, 2015, is again in the news? A controversy further pointing to the perception that President Buhari is not interested in a Credible, Free, Fair and Transparent 2019 Presidential Election?

This must not be. Not even after Mr. Buhari played hide and seek games with the National Assembly, and in the nick of time, failed to give assent to the 2018 Electoral (Amendment) Bill into an Act.

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND HAJIA AMINA BALA ZAKARI: FLASHBACKS

TIME LINES

1995-1998

In 1995-1998, when General Buhari served as Chairman, Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), set up by the late Military Dictator, Sanni Abacha to cushion the effects of a hike in petrol pump price, Amina Bala Zakari served as the Senior Consultant/Chief Pharmacist working on PTF-funded health projects across Nigeria.

When Buhari delegated the jobs of PTF under his watch to a consultancy firm, Afri-Projects Consortium (APC), with the late Ahmad Salihijo; Hajia Amina Bala Zakari, et al, as fronts, a Trustee member of that Commitee, late Group Captain Jibrin Usman KICKED and HONORABLY RESIGNED, when Buhari remained adamant.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust Newspapers on September 11, 2011, Usman who was former Military Governor of North Central State of Kaduna, disclosed that he resigned from the PTF when Gen. Buhari blatantly jettisoned procedures by bringing some consultants (APC) to handle the PTF committee’s jobs without carrying the members along.

All efforts to call Gen. Buhari to order fell on deaf ears. Usman said he honorably resigned to protect his integrity. Read interview- https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/why-i-disagreed-with-buhari-a…

This is how long Buhari facilitated Mrs. Zakari’s entrant within the corridors of public offices.

FAST FOWARD TO JUNE 2010

Former President Goodluck Jonathan statutorily appointed INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega.

JULY 2010

Jonathan appointed five INEC National Commissioners namely: Hajia Amina Bala Zakari, Abdukadir Oniyangi, Ambassador Mohammad Wali, Chris Iyimoga and Lawrence Nwuruku.

Note: Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution, established INEC and its composition.

Jonathan in appointing Jega and the five INEC National Commissioners, followed the mode of appointment of the Chairman and members as provided for under Section 154(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution.

Mandatorily, the Section states that the President, in exercising his power to appoint the Chairman or members of INEC, “shall consult the council of state” and such appointment “shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate.”

It was obeying the provisions of the constitution that Jonathan sought nominations from members of the Council of State composed of the President (Chairman); Vice President; all living former Presidents and Heads of State; President of the Senate; Speaker of the House of Representatives; all living former Chief Justices of Nigeria and all state governors, among others.

Sources familiar with the 2010 INEC composition say, Jonathan out of respect for General Buhari asked him to nominate a National Commissioner for the North-West.

BOOM, General Buhari nominated no other person but his god-daughter, Amina Bala Zakari for the North-West.

So, in July 2010, Jonathan appointed Amina Bala Zakari, INEC National Commissioner, alongside Abdukadir Oniyangi, Ambassador Mohammad Wali, Chris Iyimoga and Lawrence Nwuruku, and thus forwarded their names for Senate Confirmation.

They resumed duties with Jega in 2010 and thus conducted the 2011 General Elections.

APRIL 16, 2011

Amina Zakari had been so powerful in INEC, that it was said that Jega was wary of her influence.

An investigative analysis penned by Jide Ajani (veteran Political Editor and Editor, Sunday Vanguard), disclosed that Jega never handed over to Zakari as Acting Chairman, whenever he was out of the country.

So, a strange thing happened during the collation of the 2011 Presidential Results.

INEC for some minutes, in the glare of the entire nation, put on hold the live broadcast collation/announcement of results, following a protest by Buhari’s party, then Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), alleging RIGGING.

It was later disclosed by Jide Ajani in his investigative piece on Sunday Vanguard of July 12, 2015, that Hajia Amina Bala Zakari, allegedly influenced that short break in transmission. Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/…/buhari-zakari-inec-chairmans…/

MARCH 28, 2015

Professor Attahiru Jega, Amina Bala Zakari, Abdukadir Oniyangi, Ambassador Mohammad Wali, Chris Iyimoga and Lawrence Nwuruku were the heads of INEC that conducted the March 28, 2015 Presidential Election which saw Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), defeating incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Jide Ajani, in series of indepth and investigative analyses in Sunday Vanguard, prior to March 28, 2015, revealed the grand plots that may bring to QUESTION that 2015 Presidential Election.

But like a lone voice in the wilderness, no one, not even former President Jonathan listened to Jide Ajani’s voice of reason.

DeepDrive Intelligence, a non-partisan Election Intelligence organization, in a March 2018, report, corroborated the suspicions of wide spread irregularities with the non usage of Smart Card Readers (SCRs), particularly in the North, as against the high usage and compliance in the South. The rest they say is history.

Yours Truly, has bared his mind on these irregularities that marred the 2015 Presidential Election and how to curb same in the 2019 Presidential Election. Read more at https://ikengachronicles.com/2019-elections-smart-card-rea…/

JUNE 30, 2015

According to Section 155(1)(c) of the 1999 Constitution, the duration of office of both National Commissioners and Resident Commissioners is five years.

So, while Jega’s tenure as INEC chairman expired on June 30, the tenure of Amina Zakari was to end on July 21, 2015, when she must vacate office except re-appointed by the President in consultation with the Council of State and subject to Senate confirmation.

So, Jega on June 30, 2015, when he statutory took a bow out of INEC after five years, handed over to Ambassador Mohammed Wali as Acting INEC chairman, pending when President Buhari appoints a substantive INEC boss, in consultation with the Council of State and subject to Senate confirmation.

The reason for choosing Amb. Wali ahead of other four National Commissioners, including Amina Bala Zakari, was best known to Jega.

Irked by Jega’s action, President Buhari, in what commentators described as employment of MILITARY FIAT, sacked Amb. Wali and ILLEGALLY made Amina Zakari, Acting INEC chairman, against the fact that no where in the 1999 Constitution recognises that office.

In an interview with PM News in 2015, Amina Bala Zakari said she had on June 30, 2015, packed out of her office at the INEC Headquarters, to commence her leave of absence, three weeks to her exit on July 21, 2015.

While driving home, she said she received a phone call to return to head INEC in an acting capacity.

Zakari in that interview, recalls how she got the big job saying: “I had packed all my things out of INEC and wanted to take a leave for the remaining three weeks. I felt that as the commission was being depleted, I had a responsibility to sit out my three weeks. Then I was called on my way home after the chairman (Jega) had handed over to Ambassador Wali.

“I was told that the head of service was looking for me, and I said what for? I just continued driving. I was almost home when they said, ‘Come back, you have a letter to be the acting chairman.’ I said, ‘but somebody was appointed in the morning, take the letter to INEC.’ But they said, ‘It is in your name. You have to come and receive it. Just turn round.’

“While I was still arguing, my driver decided to turn round. I called the ambassador and told him, and he said, ‘Go pick your letter.’ I called the former chairman and he said, ‘Go pick the letter.’ I was confused and worried because it is an enormous responsibility and I wasn’t really expecting it. I picked the letter and came back to the office the next day in a sober mood.”

JULY 21, 2015

So, on July 21, 2015, that Amina Bala Zakari was supposed to take a bow out of INEC after putting in a meritorious 5years, President Buhari RETAINED her as INEC Acting chairman, a position alien to the 1999 Constitution.

Many a Journalists, Social Commentators, Political Analysts all wrote against this illegality, at the time, chief of whom was Jide Ajani, but Buhari did not immediately listened to wise counsels.

Did he even read the articles drawing his attention to do the right thing?

OCTOBER 21, 2015

Hajia Amina Bala Zakari, who ought to have left INEC since July 21, 2015, stayed put as INEC Acting chairman, until October 21, 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari eventually appointed a former Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Professor Mahmood Yakubu as the substantive INEC chairman.

Rather than allow Hajia Amina Bala Zakari bow out of INEC like her contemporary Set 2010-2015 National Commissioners, namely- (Abdukadir Oniyangi, Ambassador Mohammad Wali, Chris Iyimoga and Lawrence Nwuruku), President Buhari again re-appointed her to represent the (North West) as one of the five new INEC National Commissioners.

Other four fresh appointees were Dr. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbile (North Central); Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo (North East); Dr. Mohammed Mustapha Lecky (South South) and Prince Soyebi Adedeji Solomon (South West).

A South East National Commissioner was no where to be found on that memo presented by President Buhari to the Council of State meeting, the first in the life of his Presidency, held on October 21, 2015.

That meeting was though attended by Vice President Osinbajo; former Heads of State, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdusalami Abubakar, and Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former Chief Justices of Nigeria which included Mohammed Uwais, Alfare Belgore and Idris Kutigi, as well as almost all the serving governors graced that meeting.

OCTOBER 29, 2015

Following the nod earlier given their appointments by the Council of State, the Senate on October 29, 2015, confirmed Professor Yakubu Mahmood as INEC chairman, alongside five new National Commissioners namely- old timer Hajia Amina Bala Zakari (North West); Dr. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbile (North Central); Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo (North East); Dr. Mohammed Mustapha Lecky (South South) and Prince Soyebi Adedeji Solomon (South West).

Before their confirmation by the senate, the new INEC chairman and the five National Commissioners had fielded questions from the senators at the Committee of the whole, as part of the screening.

During the exercise, Mr. Yakubu assured that he would ensure transparent and credible electoral process during his five year tenure (ending October 21, 2020).

According to him, “never again would elections be won and lost at INEC headquarters or its state offices.”

POSER

Critically assessing main elections and by-elections conducted thus far under Prof. Mahmood, has INEC under his leadership lived up to his promises on October 29, 2015? Yours Truly, says, NO!

INEC under Prof. Mahmood has been dogged with the conduct of several INCONCLUSIVE elections- Kogi guber poll, Bayelsa guber poll, Osun guber poll, et al, as well as MASSIVE VOTE BUYING at polling units by political party agents- Edo guber poll, Ondo guber poll, Anambra guber poll, Ekiti guber poll, Osun guber poll, et al.

INEC under Prof. Yakubu Mahmood and his five lieutenants raised LITTLE or NO ALARM on these national emergencies?

CONCLUSION

Having chronicled where Hajia Amina Bala Zakari and his maternal uncle/god-father President Muhammadu Buhari are coming from, Yours Truly, joins millions of other Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to call on Mr. President to infact, REORGANIZE the current composition of INEC.

Assuming but not conceding that Hajia Amina Bala Zakari is not in any way related to President Buhari, with Buhari’s actions and inactions over her continued stay at INEC, when all her contemporaries had bowed out, since 2015, Yours Truly, says, as far as #NigeriaDecides2019 is concerned, like millions of other Nigerians, as well as many of the opposition political parties, I have NO CONFIDENCE whatsoever in the would-be outcome.

Nigeria is currently rift with tension, infact, Nigeria is at the crossroad, over the continued stay of Hajia Amina Bala Zakari as a critical member of INEC.

President Muhammadu Buhari, unnecessarily courted this recent controversy for himself and government.

For Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora, other political parties, as well as the International Community, to take him serious in his New Year Message ‘vow’ to conduct a CREDIBLE, FREE, FAIR and TRANSPARENT 2019 Presidential Election, Yours Truly, affirms that:

1. The 2019 election be immediately postponed until a later date that will not fall alien to provisions of the 1999 Constitution as it regards the May 29, HAND-OVER DATE, pending when INEC is REORGANIZED for optimum performance.

2. Professor Yakubu Mahmood (INEC chairman); National Commissioners Hajia Amina Bala Zakari (North West); Dr. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbile (North Central); Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo (North East); Dr. Mohammed Mustapha Lecky (South South) and Prince Soyebi Adedeji Solomon (South West), ALL BE EASED OUT OF INEC, using DOCTRINE OF NECESSITY.

I repeat, Nigeria is at the crossroad because of the controversies President Muhammadu Buhari has courted for himself.

If Mr. President does not RELIEVE the personalities abovementioned of their jobs in INEC, and goes ahead with the 2019 Presidential Election, come February 16, 2019, whatever untoward happens, Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora, as well as the International Community MUST HOLD PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI RESPONSIBLE.

  • Ikenna Asomba is a Journalist and Social Commentator.
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