The Muhammadu Buhari regime has since inception taken some unpopular, questionable and objectionable decisions in terms of policy options and appointments which are antithetical to the Constitution and the nation’s over all interests.
These include appointments into public offices bordering on nepotism, rejection of assent to bills for electoral reform, attempts to confiscate people’s lands for the benefit of herders, indifference to herdsmen terrorism, among others.
Buhari’s nomination of his controversial Senior Special Assistant on Social Media, Ms. Lauretta Onochie, as the National Commissioner representing the South-South in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, follows in a pattern of crucial decision making which totally disregards issues of competence, constitutionality, morality, acceptability and good conscience.
Lauretta Onochie is unfit to occupy the exalted office of National Commissioner, one of the 13 people who take crucial decisions in the administration of our electoral system and the operation of our democracy.
She is not only a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, she has participated in all the electioneering activities of the party at all levels even before her appointment as a presidential aide in 2015.
Our Constitution is clear on requirements for qualification for appointment as an INEC National Commissioner. In item F,14(2c) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution(as amended), a member of the Commission of the INEC must “be nonpartisan and a person of unquestionable integrity”.
Onochie as a known APC hawk and the president’s acolyte cannot be trusted to carry out the duties of that office without feathering her political nest and those of her political principals and associates.
This nomination is a clear departure from the noble legacies of former President Goodluck Jonathan, whose decision to appoint people he did not know into the Board of the Electoral Umpire produced a series of free and fair elections throughout his tenure.
That was the atmosphere in the INEC which made Buhari’s emergence as president possible in 2015 after three previous failed efforts.
It is unfortunate and a betrayal of trust that the president, from day one after his ascent to power over five years ago, has systematically reversed the gains he inherited in terms of promoting the independence of the INEC.
This accounts for the general lack of credibility in elections conducted under his watch except for the Anambra and the recent Edo and Ondo off-cycle gubernatorial elections.
The presence of people like Lauretta Onochie and Buhari’s family member, Amina Zakari, on the INEC Board will not promote its independence or free and fair elections. We therefore join millions of well-meaning Nigerians to reject this nomination. We call on the president to withdraw it.
If he fails to do so, the Senate must rise to the call of patriotism and do the needful.