As a public servant, Lauretta Onochie is not one to shy away from controversies, and she has made no secret of her loathing for opposition. In her seven years as the president’s social media aide, she has remained in the public glare as someone who is unafraid to express unpopular views.
During the COVID-pandemic, Onochie defended the president against those who criticised him for not wearing a nose mask in public. Yet, in the same period, she urged citizens to use nose masks for safety.
In 2017, she said it was disrespectful and insensitive to inquire about the president’s health status and ask him to resume, stating that he was not violating the constitution as he had relinquished power to his vice president.
In 2018, Onochie accused Atiku Abubakar, her principal’s primary opposition, of using poverty as a weapon to control the masses. She posted images of packaged food accompanied by N500 bills and stated, “Keep them in poverty, then give them handouts — Atiku in Sokoto yesterday.” A fact-check of her claims, however, returned them as false.
Again in 2019, she labelled Abubakar depressed for asking her to apologise for making false allegations against him on social media.
On another occasion in 2019, Onochie tweeted that former senator Dino Melaye needed psychiatric evaluation, and more recently linked Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, to her comment on the theft of bags and phones and the assault of staff at the NBA conference earlier this year.
NOMINATED FOR NDDC BOARD CHAIR
On November 26, President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Onochie for substantive chair of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Since her nomination, widespread opposition has ensued on social media. This is not the first time Onochie’s nomination has been challenged. In 2021, the Senate rejected her presidential nomination for commissioner at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
She was found to have provided false information regarding her political affiliations. Onochie had denied engaging in partisan politics despite her membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Buhari Support Group (BSG).
Critics of her nomination have pointed to her communal ties, contentious statements and record of misrepresenting herself as reasons for their opposition.
A Twitter user identified as Malcom Omirhobo wrote, “Lauretta Onochie is a bloody liar and therefore not worthy of being the chairman of the NDDC. Once a liar, always a liar. I urge the Senate to reject her nomination by President Buhari as chairman of NNDC.”
Another user, Distinguished Everest, stated, “Buhari is working truly hard to reward Lauretta Onochie. First, he nominated her for INEC. Nigerians resisted it. Now it is NDDC. Over to you, the people of Niger Delta. You know your senators.”
“How is Lauretta Onochie qualified to be the chairman of the NDDC board? When she was first nominated for INEC, folks resisted, now it is the NDDC she will be overseeing? Why is the president bent on rewarding this woman?” Another user, with the name David Onyemaizu, tweeted.
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