By Biola Adebayo
The Proactive Gender Initiatives, PGI, says allegations being peddled against Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, National Commissioner, Amina Zakari, are gender-related violence that Nigerian women now face in the society.
The national coordinator of PGI, a civil society organisation, Esther Uzoma, made the remark on Sunday in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
NAN reports that some opposition parties and groups had kicked against INEC’s appointment of Amina Zakari as chairperson of its national collation centre for the forthcoming elections, arguing that the national commissioner was President Muhammadu Buhari’s niece.
Reacting, Ms Uzoma, who is also the alternate chairperson, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, said nobody believed that a woman could rise to such position by her own merit.
She said since the national commissioner had not been found wanting in her responsibility in INEC before, the allegations were uncalled for.
“I also strongly believe that all these people raising allegations against her is because she is a woman.
“It is one of those gender-based violence. Nobody believes that a woman can rise on her own, by her own merit to that position.
”Has she been accused of any crime at all, all the years she has spent in INEC? Is she under any form of administrative investigation?
”So, I feel strongly that institution of INEC is bigger than any single individual,” she said.
Ms Uzoma, who had served as local and international election observer, said the allegations against Mrs Zakari had just gone to show that many Nigerians were yet to understand how INEC works.
”The assumption that one single person can truncate or rig this our election, the assumption that she is so powerful to rig 2019 election in favour of one candidate underlines our gross ignorance of the workings of INEC.
”No, it cannot happen; she doesn’t have that power. The way INEC is structured, no single person can do that.
”The way the system runs, no individual can do that. It cannot happen because I have had the opportunity to interface with that institution strongly. That is my take,” she said.
The national coordinator said she sincerely believed that the deliberate misinformation about the role Hajia Amina Zakari is going to play at the collation centre is deliberate to provoke unnecessary sentiment and heat up the polity.
”Number one, Amina Zakari is not a returning officer. The chief returning officer for the election is Professor Mahmood Yakubu.
”Secondly, the advent of Amina Zakari in INEC preceded the Presidency of President Muhammadu Buhari. She was a staff of INEC before Buhari became the president.
”Number three, she is a chief logistic officer, collation centre. She is in charge of general logistics,” Ms Uzoma stated.
She called on political parties and Nigerians to get acquainted with the operations of the electoral umpire.
”My advice is that people should make enquiry on how INEC works. What exactly is she going to do at the collation centre?
”Remember this election will be opened to both national and international observers. So don’t just come out to start heating up the political process.
”Concentrate on your party and leave this woman alone,” Ms Uzoma said.