Controversy trails nomination of Umoren as Akwa Ibom INEC's REC


Etekamba Umoren: nominated as Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Akwa Ibom by President Bola Tinubu.

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) group, the PDP Aborigines Initiative and other stakeholders have raised alarm on nomination of Etekamba Umoren as the new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Akwa Ibom by President Bola Tinubu.

Umoren, had reportedly served as aide of Senate President Akpabio and was also a prominent member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Akwa Ibom.

Specifically Umoren served the Senate President as a Chief of Staff during his time as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and also one of his top aides as Governor of Akwa Ibom state.

President Bola Tinubu has recently appointed him as one of the new RECs, according to a statement by his Media Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale.

In a statement protesting his appointment. the PDP Aborigines Initiative, said “The appointment of Mr. Etekamba Umoren as Resident Electoral Commissioner will erode the trust Nigerians have on the electoral body.”

In the statement signed by its National Coordinator, Shaibu Abubakar, the group said Mr Umoren is a member of the All Progressives Congress, and as such should not be made to play the role of an umpire in any elections.

The group equally said Mr. Umoren’s membership of the “APC is not hidden as he defected officially from the PDP in 2018, with his boss, the Senate President, Dr Godswill Akpabio.

“Umoren has served as Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government and Chief of Staff to Akpabio as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

“We call on President Tinubu to reverse that appointment as his government does not need this controversy at this period that it ought to focus on delivering good leadership to the whole nation irrespective of political affiliation.” Abubakar said.

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In another statement, Abuja based Akwa Ibom born financial expert and public policy analyst Celestine Mel, condemned nomination of Umoren.

According to him, the REC nominee is a “highly partisan operative who will stop at nothing to project the partisan inclination of his master, into the electoral management body, with attendant great harm and diservice to Nigeria and this democracy.”

Mel said further: “The electoral system is like the banking system. Both thrive on trust. Participants surrender themselves to the process because they perceive that it will be fair. The moment participants suspect that either of the operatives could deal unfairly, the trust is broken, irrespective of whether or not there was any intention to be unfair.

“With this appointee in INEC, the perception of unfairness, injustice and inequity to different political parties is already established.

“The simple reason is that the nominee will be perceived to more loyal to his benefactor, who is on top of the political value chain, than Nigeria his country.”

He likened Umoren’s nomination to that of Mrs Lauretta Onochie for a similar role by the Buhari administration, and urged President Bola Tinubu to “please rescind the decision and seek non-partisan professionals for this sensitive assignment, if only he is interested in preserving whatever is left of the battered image of the Independent National Electoral Commission.”

A State House press release signed by Ajuri Ngelale, named Umoren as one of the RECs appointed by President Bola Tinubu in pursuant of the “powers vested in him by Section 154 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999, Amended) and Section 6 of the Electoral Act (2022),” for a term of five (5) years each, subject to the confirmation of the Nigerian Senate.

Others appointed with Unoren were Mr. Isah Shaka Ehimeakne from Edo State, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Babalola from Ekiti State, Mr. Abubakar Ahmed Ma’aji from Gombe State, Mr. Shehu Wahab from Kwara State, Dr. Bunmi Omoseyindemi from Lagos State, Mr. Aminu Kasimu Idris from Nasarawa State, Prof. Mohammed Yelwa from Niger State, Dr. Anugbum Onuoha from Rivers State, and Mr. Isma’ila Kaura Moyi from Zamfara

According to the release, President Tinubu “expects the new appointees to abide by the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct in the discharge of their duties, in accordance with his determination to facilitate the establishment of a new and sustainable standard of transparent, fair, and conflict-free electoral conduct.”

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