As the furore over the emergence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner, Amina Zakari, as the head of collation for next month’s presidential election rages, the INEC chief says she is neither the niece nor the cousin of President Muhammadu Buhari.
She spoke on a day northern politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, lambasted the Presidency for “trying to distance President Muhammadu Buhari from Amina” who, he claimed, to be a blood-relation of the President.
Mohammed, a Second Republic politician and member of the 2014 National Conference, that it was shameful for an aide of Buhari to try to distance Buhari from Amina Zakari.
Disputing her position, however, Junaid said yesterday, “For those who do not know, let it be known (and let me repeat it) that Buhari’s sister, who was married to a prominent Emir in Kazaure, in the present Jigawa State, gave birth to Amina”.
He added, “It is doubtful if Buhari himself can say that Amina Zakari is not his niece. I can say, without any fear, that Buhari cannot deny his direct sibling.”
“I could remember that the Salihidjo of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and one late Dr Safana telling me that she was a niece to General Buhari.
Apart from that, I knew her father. He taught me Arabic and Islamic Studies in college. The present Emir of Kazaure is her elder brother. The present minister of water resources is her younger brother. One of her sisters was married to a former Ambassador to Niger Republic.
“If you are married to a family, you are part of that family. I raised her case in an interview I gave to a national daily two years ago. But the media and everyone ignored what I was saying at that time.”
Mohammed said that although Amina is a pharmacist by profession and had been working hard in many other places, it was former President Goodluck Jonathan who nominated her as a National Commissioner to represent the North-West, with some inputs from then Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, presidential candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, at that time.
Asked to explain why Amina’s position in INEC is currently generating controversy after she had been in the commission for more than eight years without any linkage to Buhari, the northern politics said that Amina should step aside at once because of the perception by the public that she could unduly influence the outcome of the election for Buhari.
“In the political situation where we have found ourselves, whether she is a blood relation or not of the President, she has to step aside once there has been widespread perception that she’s related to Buhari”, he stated.
“She became the most senior person in INEC but she read pharmacy and cannot be said to be the most suitable for the job. I warned INEC chiefs over Amina’s position long ago and they decided not to do something about the dilemma they now have on their hands.
“It was a wrong appointment ab initio and she should quietly step aside because of her relationship with the President. Let her go because the job she is expected to do is far beyond her.”