There seems to be no let-up in the controversy triggered by the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, a National Commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the Chairman of the Results Collation Committee.
Mrs. Zakari was named last Thursday alongside another National Commissioner, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Ahmed Mu’azu, who is heading the Electoral Logistics Committee.
Since their announcement, the electoral body has been under attack from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which alleged that Mrs. Zakari’s appointment will compromise the forthcoming elections.
It claimed that Mrs Zakari has a blood relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari and therefore could skew the process in the ruling party’s favour.
Mrs. Zakari reacted in an interview with the BBC Igbo to the raging controversy at the weekend, saying she is neither the President’s niece nor cousin.
Besides, the INEC had dismissed the furore over Mrs. Mu’azu’s appointment as unwarranted as she will only be setting up the Situation Room and the Centre for the National Collation for the forthcoming elections. The collation and announcement of the results is the Chairman’s duty.
Yesterday, the campaign organisations of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate and that of the PDP clashed over Mrs. Zakari’s appointment.
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) advised the PDP to seek more creative ways of reviving its presidential campaign and stop demonising INEC and other national institutions.
Stoking another round of controversy, the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PDPPCO) rejected the designation of Mrs. Zakari as the chair of INEC’s Collation Centre for the forthcoming election.
But the BMO said that attacks by the opposition party and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar on INEC’s top echelon were uncalled for and clear signs of a defeatist attitude.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the BMO wondered why the PDP resorted to bullying tactics because of the reality that the former vice president had no chance to upstage the incumbent.
The statement reads: “Now that PDP’s presidential campaign has stalled and lost steam almost as soon as it began, as a result of lack of support, even among its leading members, it thinks the best way is to blackmail everyone at INEC.
“How could they even accuse the Commission of making a U-turn on the use of Smart Card readers for the upcoming election? Or even raise dust over the appointment of Amina Zakari as the head of INEC’s in-house collation centre committee, same role she played in 2015.
“It is good that INEC has given the party the response it deserves, but we know that all these are diversionary tactics to deflect attention from a campaign that is nothing to write home about.
”We see it as an admission of failure even before the first ballot, based on the reality on ground.”
The group urged the PDP to do more to convince skeptical party leaders to embrace its Presidential candidate to ensure a semblance of a contest next month instead of seeking to use INEC as an excuse for its impending defeat.
“What the PDPPCO does not want Nigerians to know is that most of the party’s founding members and those it expects to fund its campaign activities have turned their back on the candidate.
“Aside from some of the governors who have big re-election battles on their hands, some others are just not interested in rallying around a candidate with the type of baggage Atiku has; even by PDP standard.
“Or are the party leaders not aware that some of their governorship and National Assembly candidates even have the image of the President on their campaign posters rather than that of Atiku Abubakar?”
The BMO also decried what it described as the use of local and foreign trolls by PDP to further its goal of discrediting INEC and other national institutions.
It said: “Aside from hiring foreign hacks to malign the country, PDP is shamelessly using its members who are embedded in a so-called coalition to push out false narratives and fake news as part of efforts to give the impression of an opposition coalition against President Buhari and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
“This is a group whose spokesman Ikenga Ugochinyere was until recently an aide of Senate President Bukola Saraki and which consists of mushroom parties which jointly could not muster more than a handful of votes in the recent Osun State gubernatorial election.
“How could such a group even pose a threat in a national election?”
According to the BMO, President Buhari has enough goodwill and support, especially among discerning Nigerians who are aware of the massive infrastructural development across the country to coast to victory.
“We make bold to say that the President still enjoys the support of majority of those who gave him what Buhari supporters refer to as the 12 million vote bank in 2011which increased to over 15 million in 2015.
“Add that to the millions of beneficiaries of Africa’s largest social welfare scheme and those who are witnesses to new road and rail projects, then it is safe to say the opposition party and its minions have already accepted defeat more than one month to the presidential election.”