The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Minority Caucus of the Senate have vehmently rejected the nomination of Ms. Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Ms. Onochie, who is President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media, is a card carrying member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Senate Minority Caucus noted that by nominating Ms Onochie, President Buhari has willfully gone against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Buhari had in a letter dated October 12, 2020, asked the Senate to confirm Ms. Onochie alongside three others; Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (National Electoral Commissioner), Katsina; Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (National Electoral Commissioner), Ekiti; and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Resident Electoral Commissioner), Jigawa.
The PDP described her nomination by President Buhari as a highly provocative assault on the nation’s constitution and democratic process.
Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP’s spokesman, in a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, noted that Onochie is a card-carrying member of the APC, adding that the PDP would deploy every legitimate means possible to stop her approval by the Senate.
“Indeed, from Mr. President’s public promises, one would have thought that he was desirous of leaving a legacy of credible elections, having failed in all ramifications of governance
“However, this nomination of his personal staff, Lauretta Onchie, as INEC national commissioner, supports the position of the PDP that his statements were mere glib talks on electoral sanctity and clearly demonstrates that he has no plans whatsoever to leave a legacy of credible polls.
“This ugly development is another shameful attempt to plant unscrupulous elements in INEC in order to corrupt and further desecrate the sanctity of the commission, undermine our electoral system and destabilize our democratic process ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“We had hoped that, as Mr. President had professed in the past, he is truly running his second and final term in office. If that were so, then Lauretta Onochie’s nomination as INEC national commissioner clearly points to a totally different direction.
“Indeed, her nomination dresses up Mr. President as having more than an interest in legacy building and portrays him as one who has a personal candidature interest in the 2023 election. The only way to prove otherwise is to quickly withdraw Onochie’s nomination before the Senate.
“Moreover, being a card-carrying member of the APC as records shows (from Ward 5 Onicha Olona, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta state), Onochie’s nomination is in clear violation of paragraph 14 of the 3rd schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which forbids a person involved in partisan politics to hold office as a member of INEC.
“It is therefore surprising that having sworn to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. President is taking actions that are antithetical to the very constitution and democratic governance.
“These actions are deliberate attempts by President Buhari to inflame social tensions, undermine our constitution and desecrate the sanctity of our electoral process, rather than finding solutions to the myriads of problems pervading our country,” the PDP said.
Meanwhile, the Senate Minority Caucus, in its reaction to the development, noted that, as a card-carrying member of the ruling party, Ms. Onochie cannot be INEC National Commissioner.
According to the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Buhari has “willfully gone against the constitution” by nominating his aide.
Consequently, he urged President Buhari to withdraw her nomination.
“President Buhari by nominating Loretta Onochie has willfully gone against the constitution that he swore to uphold.
“Item F, paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) forbids a card carrying member of a political party to be a member of INEC.
“The Minority Caucus of the Senate is against this nomination and calls on Mr President to withdraw it.”
Ogbodo ThankGod is currently the Managing Director/CEO/Group Chief Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He was the Chief Editor at NaijaBuzz.News before his new top leadership role. Ogbodo has years of experience in the Nigeria Media Industry and has co-founded some media companies. He is the founder of Ogbodo Solution Nigeria and 1Push.Ng. He loves playing football and is a strong supporter of Lionel Messi who he describes as the greatest footballer of all time.