Yinka Odumakin, the spokesman of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, has disclosed that contrary to widespread belief, it was Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and not President Muhammadu Buhari that recommended Amina Zakari as a nominee for appointment into the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Speaking when he featured as guest on Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, on Tuesday, he however insisted that the INEC national commissioner is President Buhari’s niece, wondering how the presidency would be saying otherwise.
Odumakin recalled that then president, Goodluck Jonathan, as part of his administration’s reforms at INEC, had called on civil society organisations to recommend someone who could take a position as a national commissioner at INEC, adding that El-Rufai then put in words for Zakari, who had worked under him as a Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
He said, “I have read of accounts where it was stated that President Buhari nominated her. It was not the President. It was the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, who nominated her. When Jonathan came in 2010, his aide, the late Oronto Douglas, who was my brother and friend, approached the CSOs who were in the forefront of the fight to remove the cabal and he said his boss (Jonathan) had taken a decision to guarantee free and fair elections.
“He said he (Jonathan) does not want to know those who will be in INEC and therefore, he wants recommendations of credible Nigerians who could be in INEC. So, when Jonathan says he never knew Jega before his becoming INEC chairman, he was right.
“So, they were headhunting for credible people and that is why you have people like Prof. Jega, Lai Olurode, and the rest of them coming as independent people nominated. But in the case of Amina Zakari, when that committee was working, we did not even know (anyone from) North-West and then Nasir el-Rufai also came to be part of the anti-Yar’adua cabal movement and was part of the process, and he said there was this woman that worked with him as health secretary when he was the FCT minister.
“He said she was very savvy and he spoke very well of her. He said she was abroad so it took about two or three days to get her CV which I collected from him and gave to Oronto Douglas. So, beyond seeing her name on paper, Jonathan did not know who she was.
“Check the records where she has been alleged to have played some roles, you always see El-Rufai being somewhere in a corner. So, we cannot have this woman. In fact, if there is honour, the best thing is for her to resign. She was nominated by El-Rufai.”
The Afenifere spokesman went on to question how Amina would be said not to be President Buhari’s niece, saying: “It is unfortunate that even our Presidency is lexically challenged to the point that they don’t know the definition of a niece. A niece, according to the Oxford dictionary, you don’t even need to go to the advanced level, is your brother or sister’s daughter or your brother-in-law or sister-in-law’s daughter. So how can you say she is not his niece?”