Indications have emerged that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in Senate may reject nomination of Special Assistant on Social Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following outrage that trailed the announcement.
The caucus possible rejection of Onochie as an INEC resident electoral commissioner to represent Delta State in the electoral umpire set up by president Buhari followed directive from the party leadership that the lawmakers should mount stiff opposition to approval of the aide for being involved in partisan politics.
The opposition and looming rejection may not be unconnected to contention that the aide’s nomination was against the run of play and unconstitutional with the nominee being a card-carrying member of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in line with paragraph 14 of the 3rd schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)
To ensure her rejection, the PDP leadership, through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, directed its members and other democratically minded members of the National Assembly, across party lines, to activate and deploy all legislative instruments at their disposal against Onochie’s confirmation.
Aside from its senate caucus, the main opposition party also urged Nigerians across the country to get ready to use all legitimate means including civic action against the senate leadership should they fail to rescind their attempt to confirm Onochie at all costs.
Through a statement on Wednesday, Ologbondiyan charged Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, to respect Nigerians by immediately returning the Onochie’s nomination to Buhari, asserting that the lawmaker must rise beyond partisan politics and uphold rule of law as demanded by Nigerians.
He also asked the Senate Chairman, INEC Committee, Kabiru Gaya, to resist the attempt by NASS leadership allegedly dragging him into doing the dirty job and immediately stand down all deliberations that concern Onochie before his committee.
“Senator Lawan must know that Nigerians are now holding him directly answerable for gross misconduct and impeachable act of perfidy for sending Onochie’s already rejected nomination to the Gaya’s Committee, in utter violation of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and total derision for the sensibility of Nigerians.
“Our party reminds Senator Lawan that the reasons that forced his hands to stand down Onochie’s faulted nomination eight months ago have neither changed nor abated. The reasons are still sticking and they are not far-fetched. In case Lawan needs to be reminded, paragraph 14 of the 3rd schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) forbids a person involved in partisan politics to hold office as a member of INEC.
“Relying on the above in demanding for a litmus of respect for the supremacy of the 1999 Constitution, the PDP holds that Onochie, as a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Ward 5 Onicha Olona, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta state and who is also public campaigner for the APC and President Buhari, cannot, by any stroke of imagination, be appointed as an INEC official at any level and under any guise whatsoever.
“If anything, our party assures Senator Lawan that his desperation to appoint Onochie into INEC through the backdoor is an act of rebelliousness to the 1999 constitution as well as impudence to the sensibilities of Nigerians, which must never be allowed to stand.
“The intent and purpose of the PDP are to preserve the sanctity and credibility of INEC and our party will never allow Senator Lawan and his APC to smuggle a fox into INEC sheep pen in their bid to corrupt and further desecrate the commission and derail our national effort towards free, fair and credible electoral process in our country. Our party also cautions Buhari Presidency to end its ignoble attempt to compromise the Senate and our electoral system in its bid to perpetuate its misrule beyond 2023,” the statement said.