Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
Odumakin, who was a guest on Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, on Tuesday, said the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, as part of reforms at INEC, had called on Civil Society Organisations to recommend someone who could take a position as a national commissioner at INEC.
Afenifere Spokesman and activist, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, says contrary to reports, it was Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and not President Muhammadu Buhari that recommended Amina Zakari as a nominee for an appointment at the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Odumakin said el-Rufai told him of Zakari, who had worked under him as a Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
He said he collected Zakari’s curriculum vitae from el-Rufai and handed it over to the late Oronto Douglas, who was the Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Research, Documentation, and Strategy.
Odumakin and el-Rufai were among prominent figures who fought against the cabal which controlled the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s government when he was incapacitated.
Both Odumakin and el-Rufai later became members of the Buhari/Tunde Bakare campaign team when Buhari was running for President on the platform of the CPC in 2011.
The activist 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.”
Odumakin said the very fact that Zakari was nominated by el-Rufai had created a conflict of interest and it was only proper for her to step down.
“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,” Odumakin said.
The Afenifere spokesman said contrary to claims by the Presidency, Zakari was also a niece to Buhari.
He said Zakari’s father was married to Buhari’s sister thereby making her father Buhari’s brother-in-law.
Odumakin added, “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?”
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