The Electoral Hub has commended the Nigerian Senate for rejecting the nomination of Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Development Diaries reports that the upper legislative house rejected Onochie’s controversial nomination after considering the report of the Senate Committee on INEC.

The aforementioned committee, chaired by Kabiru Gaya, had the responsibility of screening Onochie and the other nominees.

Gaya, who presented the report, recommended that Onochie’s nomination be rejected based on federal character principles, adding that there was currently a serving commissioner from Onochie’s Delta State.

The nomination of Onochie, who is currently the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, was noted in a letter from the presidency to the Senate in October 2020.

Many Nigerians as well as civil society organisations (CSOs), including the Electoral Hub, faulted the move, describing it as unconstitutional.

Nigeria’s constitution specifically declares that appointees to INEC must be non-partisan and also not a card-carrying member of any political party.

Onochie has openly displayed partisanship by supporting the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

‘A member of the commission shall be non-partisan and a person of unquestionable integrity’, Section 14(2a) of the Third Schedule of the country’s 1999 constitution, as amended, states.

The Electoral Hub, an organ of the Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development (IRIAD), said in a statement that the rejection of Onochie’s nomination by the Senate shows the power of public opinion and the responsiveness of the National Assembly to the demands and interests of the people.

‘This quality of the national legislative arm of Nigeria is not only applaudable but also a right step in the direction’, the statement signed by the IRIAD Founder and Director, Princess Hamman-Obels, read.

‘We can therefore say that the people through popular opinion won in the end. This victory, which was welcomed with great jubilation by the people, civil society organisations, political parties, and so on, is therefore a great step in the democratisation process of Nigeria’.

The body also noted, ‘We believe in the inclusiveness strategy of the ruling party and the interest of the government to integrate women into the governance of the nation.

‘However, this cannot be done at the expense of our obvious democratic values. We therefore recommend that the presidency nominate another woman who is qualified and non-partisan as a national electoral commissioner.

‘We challenge the presidency to ensure to uphold the democratic cultures and values in its subsequent nominations.

The Electoral Hub noted that INEC remains the most important stakeholder in the electoral process of Nigeria and therefore the credibility and integrity of the body must be protected.

Source: The Electoral Hub

Photo source: National Assembly Voices

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