In the past week, there has been incessant noise over the nomination and subsequent screening of a presidential aide, Lauretta Onochie as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Lauretta was nominated by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to fill a statutory quota as a commissioner at the electoral body but one thing one fails to understand, are the bits and pieces of noise over her nomination.
The entire media including the airwaves have been filled with this strident noise and one would have thought the lady in question has been convicted of some crimes in the past. But if one takes a deeper look, you will realize how hollow and jejune their arguments are.
The 3rd Schedule Part F of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that deals with INEC, states that a member of of the commission shall-
(a) be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity; and(b) be not less than 40 years of age in the case of the chairman and not less than 35 years of age in the case of the National Commissioners.
Now the question is, which section of the constitution was breached with the nomination of Ms Onochie?
Apparently it is clear some people have a mortal fear of the lady. If not, why the hues and cries? It is absurd to see such an ungodly gang of CSOs, led by men and women of questionable character crying all over every available TV show about how Lauretta should not have been nominated, yet these same characters have been doing no other jobs aside being members of CSOs for donkey years!
They have become a formidable gang of election rabble rousers. They don’t change their leaderships, their bank accounts are opaque and the identities of their foreign and local donors have been subjects of various scandals, questionable expenditure, and all manner of shady dealings.
They don’t live by the maxim, he who goes to equity… No, they have no clean hands!
Now as for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), those ones are not surprising. They were terrible as a governing party, and now as an opposition, they have been nothing but a colossal disaster.
But since Nigerians seem to have short memory, let me attempt to take us down memory lane over some key INEC officials that have been appointed under the PDP-led governments in the past.
-Amb. Lawrence Nwuruku Contested Ebonyi state governorship under ANPP in 2003.
-Contested for the governorship position in Ebonyi State under PDP in 2007.
-Was coordinator PDP Presidential/gubernatorial campaign Council Ebonyi State in 2007.
-Was made Nigerian Ambassador to Mexico on the basis of his being a PDP member.
-Was tipped to take over the National Chairmanship of PDP from Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo
-Was nominated as INEC’s Federal Commissioner by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 and confirmed by a PDP-led Senate.
Then there was also Dr. Johnson Alalibo, a PDP member from Bayelsa State.
-A former member of the state House of Assembly and Deputy whip.
-Later defected to APC, contested for the governorship ticket, lost and defected back to PDP
-He was appointed SA by governor Seriake Dickson.
Presently, he is an INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC)
There is also Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, cousin to Peter Obi, who was PDP’s VP candidate. He was in charge of INEC’s Operations and Logistics Committee in that same 2019 elections.
The current INEC Chairman Prof Mahmoud Yakubu was a PDP card carrying member before his appointment into the electoral body.
He was once in charge of PDP’s election fund raising committee in his home-state of Bauchi. He, as a PDP member, was later appointed as Executive Secretary of TETFUND, a position reserved for Party Faithfuls.
All these characters have served, and most are still serving in INEC despite their clear links to PDP, yet the world has not ended. So, what is the problem with the nomination of Lauretta Onochie?
Is someone afraid of a lady that cannot be bought, or made to do anything against her conscience? Or is it because she is a woman?
Whatever the problem might be, aside the empty noise and sentiments, nobody has told Nigerians what makes Lauretta unqualified and because we are a country that don’t keep records, it is easy to hoodwink the gullible and whip up unnecessary frenzy.
The noise over Lauretta’s nomination is just what it is, ” NOISE”. Just much ado about nothing.
By Ayobami Oyalowo, a Political Economist. He writes from the FCT Abuja