By Christiana Ekpa
The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has demanded that the nomination of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, as a Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), be immediately withdrawn.
In a statement issued yesterday by the national chairman of the Council, Leonard Nzenwa, IPAC said it is outrageous that President Buhari would nominate his personal aide who is also a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta State as a National Commissioner of INEC.
The Council said this is in flagrant violation of the Third Schedule, Part 1, paragraph 14 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which provides that a member of the Commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity and shall not be a member of any political party.
According to the statement issued by IPAC, it is inconceivable that Mr President would nominate his personal staff and a card-carrying member of the ruling APC to serve as a National Commissioner of INEC at a time Nigerians are clamouring for electoral reform, free, fair, credible, transparent elections and sanctity of the ballot box.
“It is unacceptable, unpatriotic and attack on the nation’s emerging democracy that can trigger a mass action against the Federal Government when the country is currently facing unprecedented protests against Police brutality and demand for Police reform.
“Lauretta Onochie has been overzealous and reckless in carrying out her duties as President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Social Media, confronting and attacking with impunity anybody who disagrees with her principal. Mr President might wish to reward her loyal as his attack dog, definitely not with a sensitive, non-partisan position of National Commissioner of INEC. The Commission is the bedrock of the nation’s political process.
“IPAC calls on the Senate to disqualify Onochie to maintain the integrity, neutrality and acceptability of INEC as the nation’s indisputable electoral umpire. To do otherwise is to court disaster that can truncate our wobbling and fledgling democracy. It will also show that President Buhari has a hidden agenda to subvert the will, wish and mandate of the people in the crucial 2023 general election.
“As the umbrella body of all registered political parties in Nigeria, IPAC will remain a vibrant gatekeeper in our collective efforts in building a strong, virile, progressive, prosperous, equitable and just democratic nation. And will at all times resist anti-democratic forces that impede our political process”, according to the IPAC statement.