13 July 2021
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THERE are strong indications that Senators are poised for a showdown over today (Tuesday)’s confirmation hearing of a Presidential Media Aide, Ms Lauretta Onochie, who was nominated by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), for appointment as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, today (Tuesday).
Onochie, alongside five others, was screened for the position of INEC National Commissioner by the Senate Committee on INEC, on Thursday.
Senators across party lines will be given an opportunity to either confirm or reject her nomination. Her nomination has attracted condemnation from a large section of Nigerians who argue that she is too partisan to be an INEC commissioner.
The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, urged the President to withdraw Onochie’s nomination.
He said the desperation of the President and his ruling All Progressives Congress, to foist Onochie on INEC, was a bad omen for Nigeria’s democracy.
Wike made the call during the presentation of a six -years progress report to mark the second year of his second tenure held at the Obi Wali International Conference Center, Port Harcourt on Monday.
He said “For goodness’ sake, the nomination and desperation of President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress -controlled National Assembly, to foist an invalid Ms. Lauretta Onochie on Nigerians as INEC’s national commissioner is a bad omen for our democracy.
“By any standard, the most fundamental consideration against the appointment of an electoral umpire in a democracy is the likelihood of bias, which in this case, is heavily weighted against Ms. Onochie, as a notorious and repulsively partisan dye-in-the-wool member of the APC.
“Despite the flood of protests against her nomination and the general lack of trust in our capacity to remain impartial, it seems the APC-led Senate is determined to confirm her appointment as part of their grand design to rig the 2023 general elections well ahead of time.
“Knowing Nigerians would overwhelmingly reject them in a free, fair and transparent contest managed by a strong and independent election management committee.
“As a governor and concerned Nigerian who loves this country so much and wants our democracy to survive, I wish to appeal to Mr. President to, for the sake of his legacy, withdraw Ms. Onochie’s nomination to avoid creating more credibility problems for his INEC and restore confidence in our electoral system.
“Where Mr. President lacks the courage to do so, then, the National Assembly, which has a responsibility to defend our democracy, must endeavour to wake up on the right side of history by rejecting her nomination.”