Buhari had in a letter read on the floor of the Senate, by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, on Tuesday, requested for the confirmation of Onochie, who is currently his Special Assistant on social media, and three others as INEC national commissioners.
The three nominees are Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (Katsina); Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (Ekiti); and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Jigawa).
Senators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in a statement soon afterwards criticized the President for the nomination. They said with her nomination, Buhari “has willfully gone against the constitution that he swore to uphold.”
Part of the statement read, “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 calls on Mr President to withdraw it.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a press conference, in Abuja, said: “This nomination of his staff, Lauretta Onochie, as INEC national commissioner, supports the position of the PDP that his statements were mere glib talks on electoral sanctity and demonstrates that he has no plans whatsoever to leave a legacy of credible polls.”
Similarly, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and over 16 civil society groups outrightly rejected Onochie’s nomination describing it as an insult on the collective sensibilities of Nigerian.
While Afenifere said Onochie’s nomination “would mark the final conquest of the country and the beginning of the end of INEC,” the CSOs called on the President to “withdraw this nomination with immediate effect and in the alternative call on the Senate to act as gatekeepers by not confirming this appointment.”
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with THE PUNCH said, “It is the peak of insensitivity and provocation by Buhari to bring a partisan fundamentalist as a (National) Commissioner of INEC. If Nigerians don’t resist and reject it, it will mark the final conquest of the country and the beginning of the end of INEC and electoral democracy. Appointing her can only happen in a failed country.”
Several CSOs, including the Centre for Transparency Advocacy, the Say No Campaign, among several others, in a joint statement issued in Abuja said: “We completely reject this nomination, which does not sit well in the recent gains of the electoral system in the country.”
The Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan, in an interview with THE PUNCH said, “I want to cry over the nomination. Onochie’s nomination for me is reversing the gains made in the last years. We completely reject the candidacy of Lauretta Onoche as INEC National Commissioner.
“Onochie is unqualified as she displays partisan loyalty, but she has also been a proponent of fake news during elections.”
Similarly, the NCSSR, a coalition of over 70 civil society groups, called on the President to immediately withdraw Onochie’s nomination.