Coalition of Progressive Political Parties, COP3, the umbrella organisation for 13 registered political parties in Nigeria, has condemned what it calls “the dangerous, irresponsible and inciting statement issued by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party on the appointment of Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The appointment early this week of one of INEC’s National Commissioners, Mrs. Amina Zakari, by President Muhammadu Buhari as acting chairman of the Commission has drawn opprobrium from Chief Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of PDP.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday and signed by the Chairman of the Coalition and National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Movement, Mallam Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, the COP3 decried what it described as “the dangerous precedent whereby a political party is trying to decide for the country who becomes the INEC Chairman” a function which, it said, is constitutionally reserved for the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Assembly.
In a reference to the statement made in Abuja on Wednesday by Chief Olisa Metuh, rejecting the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari, the Coalition warned that “any interference by political parties in the appointment of INEC officials is tantamount to politicising the process and the Commission itself, which is capable of creating dangerous schism in the Commission and generating unnecessary tension in the country.
“INEC is an independent election management body which must be insulated from politics and irresponsible politicking. The power of and procedure for the appointment of the Chairman of INEC is a constitutional matter and not subject of bargaining by political parties, especially those who are yet to come to terms with the fact that Nigeria is on a very strong change trajectory.
“INEC is also a regulator of political parties. It is an anomaly for the parties which the Commission is supposed to regulate to dictate who becomes the Commission’s chairman. Obviously, for some parties, it is still midnight,” the statement said.
“Mrs. Zakari was not appointed to the Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. She was appointed as INEC National Commissioner by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010 and by the time she was appointed Acting INEC Chairman, she had the distinction of being the most senior INEC National Commissioner in terms of time served.
“She is well educated and had served the Commission as Chairman of a number of its committees, including the sensitive Election and Political Party Monitoring Committee during President Jonathan’s administration. If she is good to be a National Commissioner of INEC and chairman of its Committees under President Jonathan, then she is good to be the Commission’s Acting Chairman at any other time.”
“PDP is fully aware that this is not the first time a transition is taking place in INEC. As recent as 2010 when the tenure of former INEC Chairman Prof. Maurice Iwu expired, he handed over the Commission to INEC National Commissioner Philip Umeadi before late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua decided to appoint Commissioner Solomon Soyebi as Acting Chairman”.
The Coalition warned PDP and what it calls its “overzealous spokesman” to stay clear of INEC and desist from any design to create schism in the Commission in the name of opposition politics.
“Opposition politics must be responsible politics. After suffering for sixteen interrupted years under its institutional mismanagement, Nigerians deserve a respite from PDP’s meddlesomeness and brinkmanship” the statement said.
“PDP’s acidic and divisive politics has been rejected by Nigerians in the last general election” the statement continued.
“We advise that they try some modesty and learn from their past mistakes instead of trying to give Nigerians more of the same.”