By Frank Oshanugor
Those opposed to the nomination of Lauretta Onochie, who has been the Special Assistant (Social Media) to President Muhammadu Buhari as a commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have ostensibly remained rooted to their position for untenable reasons.
The latest being Barrister Monday Ubani who wrote a petition on behalf of Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) to the effect that Onochie is a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a loyalist to President Muhammadu Buhari. In his petition to the Senate on behalf of the group he represents, the opposition to Onochie’s nomination is centred primarily on the orchestrated issues of loyalty to the President and alleged membership of APC.
Beyond these two issues, the question of competence or criminal characteristics on the path of Onochie who was nominated with five others did not arise. Discussing the issues as they are, certain questions obviously arise in the circumstance.
First, if the contentious issue of Onochie’s loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari is anything to go by, the question begging for an answer is whether it would have been ideal for the President to nominate someone he cannot vouch for. Where on Earth would anyone appoint his enemy to a position of trust? For President Buhari to appoint someone loyal to him to serve in the capacity of being an electoral umpire hugely speaks well of the appointee or nominee.
The action of the President like in other appointments is only a pointer to the fact that he would not put forward an unreliable person for a national assignment that would ultimately outlive his own administration.
Second, on the issue of Lauretta Onochie being a card carrying member of APC, it does appear that some of those vehemently opposed to her presidential nomination for the INEC job because of the feeling that she is a card carrying member of APC are merely working on assumption. Otherwise, how sure are they that, of a truth Onochie is a registered and card bearing member of APC? What evidence do they have from Onochie’s constituency that she is a registered member of APC and what is her card registration number?
Since the President forwarded Onochie’s nomination along with those of Prof. Mohammed Sani Kallah, Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi, Mr. Saidu Babura Ahmed, Prof. Sani Muhammed Adam and Dr. Baba Bila to the Senate in October, 2020 those opposed to the nomination of the Delta born Lauretta Onochie have not advanced more plausible reasons why she is not qualified for the job other than the alleged loyalty to Buhari and soft spot for the ruling APC.
With no iota of doubt, Onochie is a true believer in Buhari and whether or not her traducers have chosen to dislike her because of the President does not substract from the fact that she can be trusted. Here, integrity is the centre-piece of the discourse. It does not matter that Onochie’s appointment is made by an APC President, otherwise we would be calling for a test of partisanship for all other Nigerians appointed as Service Chiefs, ambassadors, captains of industries etc.
As the Senate Committee on INEC in the days ahead embark on screening the six nominees for the INEC job, let their actions be guided by verifiable evidence, unprejudiced hatred, discernible personal integrity and nationalistic appeal. Those who are frightened by Onochie’s nomination and possible emergence as INEC commissioner should be reminded that her appointment is not for the re-election of President Buhari whose tenure expires in 2023 but a service that will outlive Buhari’s administration.