Is Amina Bala Zakari Good Enough To Lead INEC? #Beekhaybee


Editor’s note: Amina Bala Zakari , currently
serving as acting chairperson of the INEC, has
all chances of becoming Nigeria’s first woman
to lead the election body, taking the position
over from Professor Attahiru Jega. Some
politicians and groups have opposed her
candidacy already, at the stage
of her appointment as an interim leader.
But Tunde Babalola, writing from Lagos, says
the agency and Nigeria on the whole would
benefit from her experience and excellent track
record in public service.
Is Amina Bala Zakari Good
Enough To Lead INEC?
Amina Bala Zakari, acting chairman of the INEC
A worthy successor to Prof. Jega
The narrative has changed in Nigeria’s political
hemisphere since power changed hands via the
ballot on May 29th, with the PDP having some
trouble settling into its new role as opposition
after 16 years in charge. This perhaps explains
why, like a toddler learning to walk, the party is
holding onto every action and inaction of
President Muhammadu Buhari to form the
fulcrum of its criticisms. From probes, to
speeches, to appointments, the PDP has made
it a point of duty of find fault with each and
every step taken by the APC administration
since that historic day. However, one of such
concerns raised by the PDP that I personally
feel compelled to address is the appointment
on June 30 of Mrs Amina Bala Zakari as acting
chairman of INEC.
Mrs Amina Zakari steps into this role on the
heels of the exit of one of Nigeria’s heroes of
democracy and overseer of the largely free and
fair 2015 elections, Professor Attahiru Jega. A
professor of political science, Jega assumed
chairmanship of INEC on June 30, 2010 at the
request of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He replaced Professor Maurice Iwu, under
whose watch one of the biggest cases of
electoral fraud was perpetuated in 2007.
Mrs Zakari’s appointment makes her the first
woman to occupy this position in Nigeria’s
history, and if confirmed by the Senate, it will
be the first time since return to democracy in
1999 that an INEC commissioner is rising
through the ranks to head the organisation.
Since joining INEC in 2011, she has chaired, at
different times, the Political Parties Monitoring
Committee and the Planning Monitoring and
Strategy Committee. Her efforts in leading these
two important committees contributed in no
small measure to the reform programmes of the
Jega leadership and the success of the 2015
elections. Surely she brings with her the
requisite wealth of knowledge and experience
needed to chair INEC. So why is Nigeria’s
opposition party crying wolf over her
A debate over “close ties”
Mrs Zakari is perceived to have close ties to the
APC administration and the governor of Kaduna
State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. She is also
rumoured to have a strong personal relationship
with President Buhari. The PDP has also
pointed out that prior to her appointment, Jega
had handed over to another INEC commissioner,
Mohammed Wali, and the reversal of that
handing over by Buhari is likely to cause a rift
within INEC. The PDP spokesperson has gone
further to say her appointment is a move by the
current administration to influence the decisions
of various elections tribunals holding across the
country. In the same breath, it was also alleged
that the appointment is meant to influence the
upcoming guber polls in Kogi and Bayelsa
The truth however is that Mrs Zakari has no
personal relationship with the president, nor
does she have any political affinity for the APC.
During her time as chair of INEC Political Parties
Monitoring Committee, she worked across
board with all political parties to sanitize the
political party system and improve the
relationship among the various parties. Before
now, her last two appointments were by two
different PDP governments, so this nullifies
every propaganda about her being an APC
loyalist. It is interesting to note that despite the
balanced and unbiased handling of the 2015
elections by Jega, and his proven track record
of integrity, he was also accused by the PDP of
colluding with the APC to rig the elections.
Same party turned around after his exit to
shower encomiums on him for delivering
On her ties with Mallam El-Rufai, it is
interesting that critics failed to highlight the fact
that Mrs Zakari has an equally good
relationship with the former PDP chairman
Adamu Muazu and the acting chairman Bello
Haliru. These relationships were fostered from
their time together at the Ahmadu Bello
University. It reeks of sheer desperation for any
person or group of persons to clamour for the
disqualification of a woman of such sterling
record in public office from an appointment she
is clearly fit for, morally and intellectually, based
on their dislike for anyone she has gone to
school with.
Buhari’s foresight
Furthermore, Mohammed Wali, the INEC
commissioner Jega initially handed over to, is
due to retire from the commission on August
11. This means he will barely have time to
implement any lasting reform or execute any
tangible project before handing over to
someone else. It is therefore, I believe, an act of
foresight on the part of President Buhari to
ensure stability in the leadership of INEC in
appointing Mrs Zakari as acting chair pending
the confirmation of her promotion to the role.
Mrs. Zakari has not wasted any time since her
appointment by also reconstituting all INEC’s
standing committees, which lends credence to
her readiness for the job. She has also pledged
to continue with the reform programmes of her
Professor Jega which will result in free, fair,
peaceful and successful 2019 general elections.
Since assuming the role, different women
groups and non-governmental organisations
have endorsed the move by the president to put
a woman at the helm of affairs of one of the
most important agencies in Nigeria’s political
structure. For a nation seeking for greater
female involvement in politics, this is by all
means a good motivation.
Lastly, Nigerians voted overwhelmingly for
President Muhammadu Buhari because they
believe in him, his integrity, and his ability to
do what is right, unlike the previous
administration. A man of his stature is not one
to make an appointment based on personal,
religious, ethnic, or political sentiments. As
such, this appointment should be seen for what
it is, the promotion of one of INEC’s most
credible, capable and consistent staff over the
past four years, based on her track record of
excellence in public service.
This article expresses the author’s opinion
only. The views and opinions expressed here do
not necessarily represent those of or
its editors.
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