By Sylvester Asoya
I feel certain that Lauretta Onochie is too distraught to speak. Like every troubled soul, she must be wondering what actually went wrong. On her part, this season calls for deep thinking and reflection. This unusual presidential aide is currently going through an unprecedented open criticism championed by her kinsmen and women, the Anioma people of Delta State.
But Onochie should be worried also about the no-confidence vote against her by many Nigerians across professions, gender and age. This is in addition to other negative comments on social media and other platforms trailing her nomination as INEC Commissioner. Even more worrisome is the fact that her people are leading the charge.
Let me be quite candid: I sympathize with Onochie. But this lady is obviously in bad company; she works for a government with so many negatives. Unfortunately, she has also refused to be circumspect in defending impunity, nepotism, corruption, incompetence, looting, insecurity and other challenges that seem to have overwhelmed this administration.
However, there is good in Onochie’s travails. Abuja, this aide’s notorious city of influence is today, the biggest dining hall in the world; people just go to Abuja to eat. So, when anyone is appointed to any position by the powers in Abuja, no matter how insignificant, there is always jubilation at home because of the associated fringe benefits. But for Onochie and her fellow travelers, home is now a nightmare. And there seems to be no end to this incalculable condemnation of her nomination that continues to resonate with every passing day in Anioma land and beyond.
In a way, I believe this extremely strong reaction of anger says a mouthful, especially if one remembers that her people are leading the “assault”. The resentment at Onochie’s home also tells the story of Anioma people: forthright, courageous, honest, resourceful, introspective and liberal. They gave the Christian World two giants: Rev. Father Paul Emechete, West Africa’s first Catholic priest and Rev. Dr. S.W. Martin, an extraordinary Baptist missionary who received degrees about a century ago in the United States of America and served as an officer in the US Army. Martin returned home and changed the face of social services in the old Midwestern Region.
Aniocha/Oshimili, a Federal Constituency where Onochie hails from also gave the world outstanding women like Professor ‘Zulu Sofola, Buchi Emecheta, Rosemary Anieze-Adams, Patty Boulaye, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Professor Tess Onwueme, among other great women. These unimpeachable women of substance from Onochie’s place have obviously raised the bar on the international stage and in public service delivery. So, those who have expressed outrage instead of joy at the president’s choice of a commissioner have a right to their views.
The moral of this developing story is that no matter the excitement, no one should allow a fleeting moment or momentary advantage to becloud one’s sense of bearing. There is life after every political appointment, so we must play our part as appointees with decorum. But all is not lost.
I hope these developments sober her up quickly as she reflects on her career and life.
-Slvester Asoya, journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos