The All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders in Akwa Ibom State have categorically stated that the newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Etekamba Umoren, does not belong to their political party.
Despite the fact that Mr. Etekamba Umoren is not affiliated with their party, the APC leadership acknowledges his standing as a qualified professional with an extensive history of public service roles in Akwa Ibom State.
Head of civil society organizations (CSOs), Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, expressed strong opposition to the perceived trend of appointing partisan individuals as RECs, a decision usually undertaken by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The CSOs have specifically voiced suspicions about the party affiliations of Mr. Isah Shaka Ehimeakne of Edo State and Mr. Etekamba Umoren of Akwa Ibom State, suggesting they are cardholding APC members.
It is currently speculated that Umoren had a previous association with the incumbent Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, as a counselor. In addition, while executing his duties as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umoren also served as the Chairman of the Senate Chief of Staff.
In a media interaction yesterday, Hon. Eseme Eyibo, who leads the APC Candidates Forum 2023 in Akwa-Ibom State, emphasized that Umoren is not an APC member and that efforts are underway to address the confusion surrounding his REC appointment.
He said that despite the complaints about Umoren’s appointment, it is legally mandated that a REC appointee cannot be a registered party member. Moreover, according to the information available to them, Umoren is a technocrat, not an APC participant.
He further distinguished between political party appointment and government appointment.
To be counted as a party member, one must contribute financially, according to the law.
Merely attending a meeting or wearing a party’s insignia in the presence of one’s employer does not confer party membership, he clarified.
To those who oppose Umoren’s appointment, he challenged them to provide a membership registry as proof of Umoren’s affiliation with APC. He pointed out the potential for manipulation in the era of AI where one’s image can be used misleadingly, as evidence of party membership.