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By Na-Allah Mohammed Zagga
When President Buhari appointed Amina Zakari as INEC Acting chairperson, he came under attack on the grounds that the President has some marital and family relationship with her. The issue dominated public interest for some time, thanks to the opposition PDP that sought to make a political capital out of the issue. Apparently, the issue has faded out of public memory, at least for now, given the fact that politicians always have their shovels ready to dredge up an issue that seems to be dead.

The appointment of Suleiman Adamu from Jigawa State as a ministerial nominee has also triggered a controversy of its own. Critics say that he is related to Amina Zakari of INEC, and with both of them allegedly related to President either through marriage or family ties, accusations of nepotism have dropped like missiles.
How valid and fair are these criticisms? Should President Buhari arbitrarily take away the constitutional rights of people to hold public offices for which they are eminently qualified merely because he is related to them by circumstances he couldn’t have controlled? Should people related to him be punished on account of that relationship?
I personally feel that denying qualified people the right to be appointed into public offices because of family and marital ties to the President is an act of gross injustice and discrimination.
When President John F. Kennedy appointed his brother, Robert Kennedy as Attorney General, it didn’t cause complaints because Robert Kennedy was qualified in his own right to hold that office.
Why should the situation be different in the case of President Buhari in particular, and Nigeria in general? We should be more concerned about the excessive and unjust concentration or domination of family members and in-laws in Buhari’s appointments. If no such evidence exists, then there is no basis for exaggerated complaints, or extravagant display of emotions over an innocuous issue. It is not right to blow our complaints out of proportion.
If we recommend that qualified people should be punished or discriminated against because they are related to the President by blood or marriage, let’s not forget that we may become victims of our own recommendations one day. You never can tell in life. When you throw a stone in the air, you may never know where it could fall.
If the President didn’t breach the constitution or exceed reasonable limits in these appointments of two alleged family members or in-laws in his government, then we should treat him fairly too. He didn’t appoint Amina Zakari and Suleiman Adamu as a gesture of special favour; he did so because they are eminently qualified in their own rights to hold public offices. The fact that President Buhari’s in-laws and family members are not messing around because he is the President is a revelation. No public office holder should expect to misbehave and remain in office because he is related to Buhari via blood or marital ties.

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