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Zakari: Family defends INEC commissioner, explains her relationship with Buhari

The family of the National Commissioner and head of Health and Welfare at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Amina Zakari, have come out to strongly defend the election official, saying critics should allow her to do her job.

Isah Zakari, a lawyer, in a statement, had faulted some of the claims published in media reports about the INEC official, saying rather than being castigated, Mrs Zakari should be celebrated as an accomplished woman.

“Enough is enough leave our mother, daughter, sister alone to serve the nation as she has done so diligently over her life and career,” Mr Zakari said.

The group of opposition parties led by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had accused President Muhammadu Buhari of plotting to use Amina Zakari to rig the forthcoming elections.

The opposition rejected her appointment as the chairperson of the 2019 election National Coalition Center set by INEC to the result of the presidential election.

Here is the statement in full text:

RE: Outrage as Buhari’s Niece, Amina Zakari Heads INEC’s Collation Centre

Our attention has been drawn to the above captioned report in the Guardian of Thursday, January 4, 2019 in which it quoted the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as saying that the National Commissioner in charge of Health and Welfare at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs Amina Zakari is a blood relation of President Muhammadu Buhari and has been appointed to head INEC’s Collation Centre in the forthcoming general elections.

We ordinarily will not join issues with any political party, newspaper or media organization because we will not want to constitute an impediment to the discharge of their constitutionally guaranteed responsibilities. It is, therefore, a very tough decision to react to the blatant lies told against our mother, daughter and sister, Mrs Amina Zakari. We have taken this decision in the firm belief that this clarification will put to rest the ceaseless campaign of calumny orchestrated to pull her down.

Amina Zakari is a patriotic Nigeria who has served her country faithfully and honestly for years without a blemish.

We are therefore pained by the report that portrays Amina Zakari working to sabotage INEC’s firm determination to advance the democratic journey by creating a conducive atmosphere for citizens to exercise their voting rights.

Contrary to the widespread belief, Amina Zakari is not a blood relation of President Muhammadu Buhari. Her mother was from Daura (born and bred in Kano) and she was not Buhari’s sister. It’s also true that Buhari’s sister was once married into the family. The union was short lived and did not produce a child. This all happened well before Mrs Zakari was born.

Furthermore, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, the veteran Kano politician who first made the claim that she was born by Buhari’s sister has since recanted. Those who have held on to the claim are therefore either unaware of his recantation or they are simply incapable of letting go their prejudices in the face of facts to the contrary.

It is laughable that Mrs Zakari who was appointed National Commissioner by former President Goodluck Jonathan under a PDP government can no longer perform any function in INEC because she is a supposed relation of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The pieces of information being sold to the press about Mrs Amina Zakari by the PDP are absolutely false, tendentious, malicious and highly reprehensible. Coming from outfits that we have the utmost respect for, makes it more excruciating for us to openly react. It is our belief that the issue of integrity should be as sacrosanct to any newspaper as it is to our family.

Mrs Zakari has challenged anyone with evidence against her of any misdeed to come forth and prove their case. She has now served under 3 different President’s in various capacities and has served her nation in a forthright and honest manner with the utmost humility and much sacrifice It is rather unfortunate that she has now been thrown into the limelight in a vicious campaign to reduce her accomplishments to purported blood relationship while ignoring her vast and accomplished resume.

Mrs Zakari attended the acclaimed Queens College on merit being first from Kano State in the Common Entrance in her graduating year from primary school. Mrs Zakari also was one of the top students in her graduating Pharmacy B.Sc class at Ahmadu Bello University. She spent time raising a family giving birth to 5 Children while her late husband took roles of increasing capacity in UBA and Union Bank.

She worked as a consultant for the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund but it is an absolute falsehood that she was appointed to that role by President Buhari. She started as a sub-consultant of Afri Projects Consortium and was eventually promoted to the Health portfolio for the Consortium after the departure of the late Dr Aminu Safana (whom she worked for) when he joined partisan politics in 1999. She also served as Executive Secretary for Health in the FCT Administration under the Obasanjo administration’s second term.

She is one of the most accomplished election experts in Nigeria with 2 elections under her belt (2011,2015). To our knowledge, President Buhari didn’t even attend the Council of States meeting where her nomination for INEC was presented by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

What is unfortunate is instead of celebrating an accomplished woman to support diversity in our polity and groom our future female leaders, we are stuck on belittling Mrs Zakari’s accomplishments to mere familial ties. If we begin to harangue and harass our officials for family ties (which they do not control) over competence we shall have no one to serve. A cursory review of INEC and other institutions will reveal a wealth of family and professional ties and contradictions, does that mean everyone should resign?

While we have tremendous respect for the role of the media in our national development, we expect that media organizations whose promoters project themselves as respecters of the rights of others should always get their facts right and present incontrovertible facts.

Enough is enough leave our mother, daughter, sister alone to serve the nation as she has done so diligently over her life and career.

Isah Zakari Esq.

For the Zakari Family

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