Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has advised against the confirmation of Lauretta Onochie by the Senate as a National Commissioner of the electoral body.
Jega said appointing as INEC commissioner a person that has generated such level of controversy would raise suspicions and erode the confidence of the people in the electoral body.
The nomination of Ms Onochie, an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, had sparked widespread controversy and outrage from civil society groups, opposition lawmakers and even within the All Progressives Congress and the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly.
Speaking on Sunday Politics, on Channels Television, Jega said, “This kind of controversy is really avoidable. The appointing authorities should be careful because you don’t want to appoint anybody that can raise suspicions or doubts or can lead to a loss of trust of the electoral management body.”
He suggested that the president should withdraw Onochie’s nomination and replace her with another female from her state.
“I’m sorry to say that from some of the documents that I have been privileged to see, you will try to avoid appointing such people into an electoral commission — because it can generate controversy.
“To be honest, the president can withdraw that nomination. After all, there are so many women with credibility, with capacity, competence in both Delta and across Rivers; so, why bring someone that will generate controversy and raise suspicions about the intention of the appointment?” Jega asked.
Speaking on the move by the National Assembly leadership to block the proposed electronic transmission of election results, Jega said denying INEC the opportunity would be counterproductive and would undermine future elections.
Jega said: “When one looks at the draft of the electoral bill currently in circulation, which the National Assembly hopes to pass before they go on recess, with regards to utilisation of technology, there is a very contradictory provision there.
“While they permitted INEC to use electronic voting, they now said that INEC does not use electronic transmission of results. It is really counterproductive.
“Electronic transmission will ensure that the traditional fraudulent activities of changing results from the collation centres will now be a thing of the past, so it is very important that our lawmakers recognise how important it is.
“Frankly, not permitting electronic transmission of results will even create an impression that the legislators are afraid and unconcerned about the integrity of results.”