The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the minority caucus in the Senate have opposed the nomination of a presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC).
Onochie, a Special Assistant on Social Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, was among the four nominees presented to the Senate for confirmation on Tuesday by the president.
The Minority Leader, Enyinaya Abaribe (PDP Abia State), said the president had contravened the constitution that he swore to defend by nominating Onochie.
He said, “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 call on Mr President to withdraw it.”
Also addressing journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said nominating a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as a national commissioner in INEC was a highly provocative assault on the nation’s constitution and democratic process.
He said, “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.”
The PDP said the nomination of Onochie dressed the President as having more than an interest in legacy building and portrayed him as one who had a personal candidature interest in the 2023 election.
The party said thehe only way to prove otherwise was to quickly withdraw her 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.
“On a final note, the PDP, standing shoulder to shoulder with Nigerians, will deploy every legitimate means possible in a democracy to stop the approval of this provocative nomination of Lauretta Onochie as INEC national commissioner.”
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