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Amina Zakari Has No Business Staying a Day Longer at INEC

 

One major thing I am expecting from President Muhammadu Buhari is a free, fair and credible electoral process, starting with the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections with effect from this year. To achieve this, the electoral umpire must be unblemished, non-partisan and impartial.

This must start with the appointment of a non-aligned person to head the umpire, followed by that of dispassionate National Electoral Commissioners. For the sake of our fragile democracy, justice and fair play, anybody occupying the position of chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commissioneither on acting or full capacity must have no links with the political parties or political actors. This is not the case with Amina Zakari, who was recently appointed acting chairperson of INEC by President Buhari. The appointment itself is an illegality.

There is no provision for the position of acting INEC chairman in our constitution. Forget about all those trying to manipulate the constitution of our land for their selfish interest. These are the people telling Buhari to keep Amina in acting capacity. The secretary of the commission should have been simply allowed to take charge pending the appointment of a substantive chairman. Buhari knew well in advance that Attahiru Jega was leaving, yet, he failed to do the needful. Now, the nation is still waiting for the appointment of a substantive chairman for INEC. The speculation now is that Buhari would allow Amina to stay on as acting chairperson to conduct the Bayelsa and Kogi States governorship elections. The President should perish this thought for the sake of our democracy. Amina Zakari is anything but neutral.
The story in town now is that Amina’s late father, the former Emir of Kazaure, was married to Buhari’s elder sister, and that Buhari lived with, and spent a significant part of his early years in the home of Amina’s father. Nobody has debunked this story. This is enough evidence of pleasantness between Zakari and our president whose party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) will be contesting governorship elections with other political parties in Bayelsa and Kogi states this year. Clearly, Amina must not be allowed to conduct the elections. She must not even have her tenure as a National Electoral Commissioner renewed to avoid an integrity crisis for the elections.
Still talking about Amina’s geniality with Buhari and the APC; I stated a few weeks ago that for over three years, this madam worked directly with Nasir el-Rufai, a chieftain of the ruling APC and the current governor of Kaduna State in the Federal Capital Territory administration.

She served as secretary for health and human resources in the FCT between 2004 and 2006. Amina was secretary for social development between 2006 and 2007 also when Nasir el-rufai was still the FCT minister. She was also acting secretary for agriculture and rural development. Again, she had direct links with Buhari when she worked as head of health and social sector for Afri-Project Consortium, the consultant to the defunct PTF when Buhari was its chairman. Obviously, Amina can’t be an unbiased umpire.

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She has links with APC chieftains and must in the interest of fair play, not be allowed to remain in INEC. Deep down, Amina knows that it would be unfair for her to continue running the show at INEC with the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections around the corner. Buhari should search his conscience and allow Amina to go home. Conscience is best nurtured by truth. Some people have argued that some previous INEC chairmen had links with political actors and parties. Well, we should not be talking about that now because we are in an era of “change”. Our dear president should reflect the “change” in INEC.
Again, as things stand today, INEC is technically incapacitated. It cannot form a legitimate quorum for its meetings according to section 159 (1) of the constitution because there is only one legal and legitimate National Electoral Commissioner left in the agency – Lawrence Nwuruku. INEC requires at least five members to form a quorum for its meetings. The tenures of ten other National Electoral Commissioners ended months back. The five years tenure of Amina, in line with Section 155 of the Constitution, also ended on July 21, 2015. She is simply hanging around illegally. So, Buhari has to swiftly give this nation an unbiased substantive INEC chairman and 11 new unprejudiced National Electoral Commissioners. Again, some people have argued that some elections were conducted in the past without a quorum in the INEC leadership. I will simply say again that we are in an era of “change”. Things must no longer be done with latitude.

Tambuwal, Gbajabiamila and the Game of Treachery
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has now acknowledged openly that he worked against Femi Gbajabiamila in the race for the number one position in the House. Tambuwal pitched his tent with eventual winner, Yakubu Dogara. He explained that the decision not to back Gbajabiamila was as a result of the unanimity of the 7th Assembly leadership’s endorsement of Dogara. This confession by Tambuwal is an open secret. But for him to now openly say it, must have left Gbajabiamila shattered.

Gbajabiamila’s statement that his political career did not hinge on a do-or die-contest for the number one position in the House amounted to showboating. He must be deeply pained because he almost single-handedly made Tambuwal speaker. He expected Tambuwal to pay back. Though, he claimed to have moved on, deep down, Gbajabiamila was badly hurt by the treachery of Tambuwal. Well, my dear Gbajabiamila, you have been beaten in this game, at least for now. This is one of the wages of treachery. The lesson here is that what goes around will always come around. For Tambuwal, Judgment day is around the corner.
pix: Tambuwal.jpg

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CBN Should Clean-up the Mess in Banks
The publication of the names of delinquent debtors with non-performing loans has further exposed the rot in the Nigerian banking system. Many of the banks could not even get the publications right, with huge irregularities contained in them. Many of the claims are being disputed. In some instances, people who had no business with the recalcitrant debtors were listed as directors of refractory companies. Some of the banks had to start taking spaces in newspapers to apologise for their errors.

This is gross ineptitude. Again, the standard is for loans to be properly collateralised. This is obviously not the case with most of these bad debts. Otherwise, the banks should have moved for the security pledged for such loans; they should be talking about prosecution of the bad debtors. It means billions of naira belonging to depositors was given out as loans without collateral. Depositors’ funds may be in danger again.

The banks ought to have taken over the collaterals, if indeed there were any, instead of making noise. These banks who would not give out a mere N100, 000 to genuine businessmen, gave out billions of naira as loans to rogue businessmen without security. This name and shame policy will achieve very little. The CBN must dig in and come up with pragmatic policies that will make aberrant debtors pay up. The apex bank must also ensure that bank managers who approved loans without collaterals are punished. This is the way forward.
pix: Godwin Emefiele.jpg

Unending Fuel Queues and the Shame of a Nation
Queues continued in most fuel stations across the nation this week with no solution in sight. Nigerians are traumatised daily at fuel stations. Many retail outlets are still selling petrol and kerosene above the government’s approved pump price. Petrol is selling for between N105 and N150 per litre depending on the part of the country you are buying. The same applies to kerosene. It is a shame that even major marketers such as Forte Oil, Conoil, Mobil, Oando and Total are selling at ex-depot price of N87 per litre. Marketers have continued to defy the directives of the inept Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) prohibiting the sale of petrol above official prices.

The clampdown on erring marketers by the regulatory agency is not having a positive impact because it is superficial. The DPR has also compromised. The long queues will continue for a long time if we are not careful. It is simple common sense. Supply is inadequate due to subsidy payment challenges. In the last two months, the Buhari government has piled up about N90 billion subsidy debts.  With demand outstripping supply, all sorts of dubious things will always crop up. To address the supply challenges, subsidy must go. Then, in the long-run, we can also focus on the revival of our refineries
One major problem this country is also facing is that there is no clear policy direction for the oil and all other sectors of the economy by the Buhari administration. I am still in a state of shock that our dear president still does not understand why fuel subsidy should be removed. The Buhari administration spends about N3 billion daily to subsidise these products, yet Nigerians are not getting them at the approved pump price. So, what is the essence of the billions of naira paid daily as subsidy? This so-called subsidy is corruption. Retaining it amounts to encouraging corruption. This is the same corruption – Buhari pledged to fight. Yet, he is encouraging it.

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Alex Barde’s Horrendous Tales
I don’t know what the erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Barde stands to gain by being economical about the state of the equipment of our armed forces. While being pulled out of the service, Barde declared that the military he headed was ill-equipped. This is not fair. Why is Barde trying to denigrate the military? Trillions of naira has been spent equipping the armed forces in the last three years. No administration has ever done this much in the last 35 years in this country. The erstwhile National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki had to provide facts, figures and photographs of supplies to counter Barde’s claims. Erstwhile Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah also spoke glowingly about the huge number of equipment acquired by the military, particularly early this year, which helped them to smoke out Boko Haram terrorists and recover captured territories.

I am sure that most of us still have the images of Russian made armoured vehicles crushing terrorists in the North-east early this year. I was further relieved when the new Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar toured Air formations and declared that even though the Nigerian military did not have all the equipment it required to function optimally, it was not ill-equipped, and it was living up to its responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria. So, what was Barde trying to achieve through misinformation?

 

Culled from This Day

 

About Yemi Adebowale:

RingTrue columnist with THISDAY, yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com

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