In a significant move within the Nigerian political arena, the Senate confirmed the appointment of Etekarnba Umoren, a former aide to Godswill Akpabio, as the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for Akwa Ibom State.
This decision came amidst a wave of confirmations where six other distinguished nominees were entrusted with the role of overseeing electoral integrity in their respective regions. Umoren, who had previously served as Chief of Staff to Senate President Akpabio during his tenure as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, had been a key player in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and was now stepping into a position where his impartiality would be crucial to the democratic process.
The Senate had convened to deliberate on the issue, the confirmation of a new REC, which would be tasked with the critical responsibility of overseeing electoral processes in their respective states.
Bola Tinubu put Umoren’s name forward
The session gained an added layer of complexity with the nomination of Umoren, sparking a debate filled with whispers and wary glances. Groups of civic activists and concerned citizens had raised their voices in unison, urging President Bola Tinubu to reconsider Umoren’s appointment. They feared his previous political affiliations might sway his impartiality, a cornerstone of democratic elections.
Yet, undeterred by the brewing controversy, President Tinubu, in a communique read before the Senate on Tuesday, had put forward Umoren’s name alongside six others, urging their confirmation in alignment with constitutional protocols.
The following day, amidst a crescendo of fervent discussions and meticulous screenings, the Senate confirmed the appointments. Ex-aide of Akapabio, Umoren was to be joined by Isah Shaka Ehimeakne of Edo, Oluwatoyin Babalola from Ekiti, Gombe’s Abubakar Ahmed Ma’aji, Shehu Wahab of Kwara, Aminu Kasimi Idris representing Nasarawa, and Mohammed Abubakar Sadiq from Niger.
The absence of three nominees from Rivers, Zamfara, and Lagos did little to sway the Senate’s proceedings, as the chamber had the quorum to proceed with its confirmations.
It was a weighty decision, the RECs, now confirmed, were to steward the electoral process for a tenure of five years. With such power vested in them, their removal could only be enacted by the president himself and ratified by a robust two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.
In the same breath that confirmed these guardians of democracy, the Senate also ushered in Mr. Shaakaa Chira as the nation’s Auditor-General for the Federation, entrusting him with the oversight of the federal accounts, a role critical for maintaining transparency and accountability within the government’s financial workings.
The confirmation of the REC was more than just a procedural necessity, it was a testament to the evolving democratic processes in Nigeria. The eyes of the nation now looked toward these individuals, especially toward the ex-aide of Akpabio, Etekarnba Umoren, expecting them to uphold the sanctity of the electoral system with unwavering impartiality and to safeguard the will of the people.
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