There has been widespread reaction and criticism since President Buhari appointed his media aide as INEC resident electoral commissioner to represent Delta state and subsequently forwarded her name to the senate as one of the candidates to be screened as an electoral umpire some eight months ago.
Not backing down due to the uproar, which some sections have described as unconstitutional, morally wrong and out rightly biased, Ms Lauretta Onochie on Thursday 8th of July finally made her appearance before the senate committee for screening.
In her defence, Ms Lauretta claimed that she stopped being partisan since 2019 ever since President Buhari was re-elected, hence her open declarations and support for the ruling political party, the APC, will not affect her activities nor decision making as she discharges her duty to be fair and neutral during the elections.
But just like the proverbial wise saying goes; can a leopard lose its spots? Many believe that her inclination to the ruling party over the years through which she got appointed as a senior special assistant to the president on media will most likely influence her judgments.
To make her claims even less convincing, more evidences have emerged of her promoting the All Progressive Congress (APC) in August 2020 via her Twitter handle; the tweet readm,
“There is Definitely an APC e-NEC meeting Tomorrow. We are going through a growth process. Thank you everyone”.
This was months after her claimed to have stopped being partisan. It will be recalled that Ms Lauretta was speaking under oath when she made this declarations in front of the senate committee, an offence punishable under the law if found to be lies.
Ironically, all the voices against her appointment have not been because of her incapacity nor competence to handle the role effectively, rather it has been because of her involvement with the ruling political party to which she was a card carrying member.
Ms Lauretta in her screening exercise said,
“I have seen the petitions against me, but I stand for justice and fairness. Thus, nobody has anything to fear. I am madam due process and this is the reason behind my attacks, because I follow the law and due process
For now, that is exactly what the opposition, civil society groups and other bodies are asking her to do; follow due process and step away from that office because she will not be able to perform with the mind of fairness and justice she claims to stand for.
Since no leopard has ever been able to lose its spots by just rolling in the jungle ground, it will take more than this lame defence Ms Lauretta put up at the senate to convince Nigerians that she is fit for the position of an electoral umpire come 2023 general elections in Nigeria.