19 July 2021

Chairperson of the Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, speaks on the rejection of electronic transmission of election results by the Senate, financial autonomy for the Independent National Electoral Commission and women participation in politics among others in this interview with VICTOR AYENI

What is your opinion regarding the controversy over the appointment of Lauretta Onochie as an INEC Commissioner?

Free and fair election in Nigeria is the basis of a functional democracy. Knowing the importance of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the need for electoral integrity, any nominee to the commission must be an unbiased person. The legislative intention in adding the provision of not being a party member is to ensure non-affiliation with any political party. Admitting that she was a member of a political party and also the fact that currently she is still affiliated as a media aide to the President is enough reason to turn her down; so, the decision of the Senate is very much welcome.

We already have a dented electoral system; we need to resist anything that can further make the system vulnerable. We have had a terrible history of INEC officials being jailed for corrupt practices and fraud. We need an electoral commission that can stand for integrity and whose reputation will not compromise the integrity of the process.

Looking at the past record of Lauretta Onochie and her active participation as a member of the All Progressives Congress, appointing her will generate suspicion from the citizens, giving them room to assume that her appointment is for a hidden agenda and this will be a contributing factor to the current lack of trust the citizens have always had in matters that concern elections. We need credible people to usher in credible elections.

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