Senate, PDP set for showdown on INEC nominees

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From Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Senate and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be heading for a showdown on plans by the upper legislative chamber to confirm five residents electoral commissioners (RECs), accused of belonging to All Progressives Congress (APC).
In separate interviews with Daily Sun, yesterday, the Senate, though it said the issue was before its committee on INEC, said the public who are aggrieved, should write formal petitions.
On the other hand, the PDP said the appointment of some persons allegedly linked to the APC as RECs by President Muhammadu Buhari, was undemocratic.
One of the appointees, Muhammad Bashir (Sokoto), was a governorship aspirant on APC platform in the 2015 elections while Agu Uchenna Sylvia, nominee for Enugu State, is believed to be the younger sister of APC deputy national chairman, South East.
Nominee from Imo State, Pauline Onyeka Ugochi, former head of ICT at INEC in Imo State, has been accused of allegedly conniving with politicians to undermine elections while Elizabeth Agwu, a former accountant general in Ebonyi State, was suspended allegedly on the grounds of incompetence and corruption in 2016.
Speaking on the development, Senate spokesman, Ajibola Basiru, said the upper legislative chamber in the past showed that it could take decisions in the interest of the country.
He called on Nigerians with facts to present them before the Senate Committee on INEC, which is expected to present a report before the chamber. Basiru said resorting to media trial or mere accusations won’t help matters.
He said: “The matter has already been referred to the appropriate committee in the Senate. When there are nominees, they’re referred to the relevant committees and in this case, the screening of the nominees has been referred to the committee on INEC.
“As of now, I’ve not spoken with INEC committee on the situation. I don’t think the committee will base on its findings on recommendations on hearsay.
“If there are evidences and the committee is availed of it, just like we did in the case of Lauretta Onochie, we’ll do the needful. We have shown sufficient confidence that we can act according to the law. We can’t just depend on what people say.
“So, we await the recommendations of the committee. It is what they recommend that we will act on. I can’t preempt what the committee will recommend. Those who have strong reasons they should not be confirmed, should approach the committee instead of media trial.”
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, told Daily Sun, in a telephone interview, that the opposition party, at its last national executive committee (NEC) meeting, rejected the nomination of allegedly partisan persons as RECs by President Buhari.
Ologunagba charged President Buhari to be conscious of his place in history, by withdrawing the nominees alleged to have ties with the APC and some of their leaders and replacing them with Nigerians who are apolitical and with proven integrity.
The opposition spokesman stated that the president must not forget he is a beneficiary of a free, fair and credible election conducted by the last PDP administration.
“We already rejected it at NEC. We were very clear. We underscored the importance of the need for a free, fair and credible election. Free fair and credible election does not start and end on the day of the election.
“It begins with processes and actions leading to that. It is not just the election on that day. It is those actions and steps taken by the president and the APC-led government in ensuring those steps, including the appointment of the umpire must be such, that they will be seen as independent.
“There would be confidence by Nigerian and the international community. So, we are reiterating the call for them to be withdrawn and this president must be conscious of his place in history, because he is a product of a free, fair and credible election that was conducted by the PDP government under former president Goodluck Jonathan.
“So, he should put his name in the right side of history by ensuring the immediate withdrawal of those list. And appointing people with proven integrity and character who believe in this country and persons who are apolitical,” he said.
Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights, Frank Tietie, told Daily Sun that though the arguments vary, past membership of a political party should not be determining factor in confirming the nominees.
He said people, including members of the civil society community, have political inclinations. Tietie urged Nigerians to give the nominees the benefits of the doubt, explaining what they owe Nigerians is impartiality.
“I understand the feeling of people. But I also think we shouldn’t use the membership of these nominees to judge the present.
“What they owe Nigerians is to be impartial once they take their oath of office. It is wrong to tie them to the past,” he said.
The post Senate, PDP set for showdown on INEC nominees appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.


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