President Muhammadu Buhari has suffered a rare defeat in the Senate after the nomination of his media aide, Lauretta Onochie, as a National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was rejected.
Buhari’s nomination of his media aide had been met with massive public criticism and pushback, with her history of partisanship considered incompatible with a position that demands non-partisanship.
When she appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC last week, Onochie told lawmakers that she stopped engaging in partisan politics two years ago, and is capable of following the law and due process.
However, the committee recommended that her appointment be rejected when chairman, Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano South – APC), presented a report to plenary on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
The senator said INEC already has a serving National Commissioner appointed from Delta State, rendering Onochie’s confirmation a violation of federal character principles.
The committee’s report was adopted in the Committee of the Whole, and Onochie was rejected.
Tuesday’s rejection of Buhari’s nomination is very rare in the 9th National Assembly which has been derided as a rubberstamp of the current administration.
The Senate leadership was reported to have pressed the president to withdraw Onochie’s name when he first nominated her last year, but the 78-year-old insisted on the controversial decision.
Senators went ahead to confirm the nomination of Muhammad Kallah, Kunle Ajayi, Babura Ahmad, Sani Adam, and Abdullahi Zuru as INEC commissioners on Tuesday.