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January 6, 2023

2023 polls: Utomi expresses concern over incivility, intolerance

2027: Atiku, Obi, Kwankwaso have agreed to form mega party – Utomi

Prof Pat Utomi

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Ahead of the February and March, 2023 General Elections, Prof. Pat Utomi, a renowned socio- political economist has expressed worries over alleged rising incivility and intolerance in the country.

Utomi, Convener of The BIG-TENT Coalition of Political Parties, Social Movements and Civil Society Organisations for Obi-Datti, made the remarks on  Friday, at a media briefing in Lagos.

The Big Tent coalition is fronting for the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Mr Peter Obi and his running mate, Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed.

The  former presidential candidate and founder of Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), said the nation’s democracy was being threatened with a growing situation where opposition parties were denied public facilities to hold rallies in some states ahead of the forthcoming general elections.

According to Utomi, “The experience of many who understand the essence of democracy and who are participating in current elections suggest a significant level of a collapse of civility, growing fascism and polarisation of the country by politicians unwilling or unable to focus on the issue.

“Since our return to democracy, consortium of scholars and pollsters from us and across Africa haave been polling and surveying attitudes regarding democracy and elections in Africa. They have offered us longitudinal data on the disposition of society to political life.

“Sadly, the data has showed continuously declining confidence in the democratic order in Nigeria.

“This trend may only possibly be reversed by the new excitement of the Obidient movement which has caused nearly 13 million new voters to register to vote in  2023 in Nigeria.

Describing Nigeria’s democracy as the collapse of civility, Utomi said, “a situation where some state actors use public funds to oppress opposition calls for the need to save democracy from its enemies.”

“It is imperative we move to reduce incivility in our democracy.

“Our democracy is on a downward slide for sometime now. It is important when we see frightening threat that we speak up. I have seen a frightening threat of intolerance.”

Utomi, a former Director of Lagos Business School called on Nigerians to vote against political parties that intimidated other parties or preventing democracy from working in 2023.