The Chairman of the Big Tent Coalition of political parties and civil society organisations for the Obi-Datti campaign organisation, Professor Pat Utomi, on Saturday, January 28, 2023 urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to extend the dateline for registered voters to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs). Professor Utomi stated that there is no “justification of ending the PVC collection exercise when a lot of people have not collected theirs despite making good efforts.”
The renowned Professor of Political Economy made this clarion call at the Big Tent’s grassroots engagement for the ObiDatti movement with another round of the Clean-Up Nigeria project in Lagos to promote a culture of cleanliness of mind, body and environment.
The Director of Media and Communications for The Big Tent, Charles Odibo, quotes Utomi as insisting that INEC “must rise up to the full meaning of its name by ensuring that its staff do not collude with our political bandits to disenfranchise millions of Nigerians indirectly. We have information that millions of Nigerians are being disenfranchised through deliberate non-release of their PVCs. INEC must ensure that every registered voter is given the opportunity to collect his/her PVC.”
According to Utomi, “for three days now the INEC staff operating from Falomo Primary School, Ikoyi, Lagos, did not show up on their duty post and this is the recurring story everywhere.” He therefore recommended that “private sector led organizations like chambers of commerce, the economic summit group and civil society organisations can help INEC with the work of distribution of the PVCs since it appears that INEC staff are stretched.”
Utomi also enjoined the international community to “ensure that INEC does not compromise its independence through the pressures coming from our political elites who now know that their time is up.”
The leader of The Big Tent Coalition for ObiDatti also noted with regret that “as our country continues to slide precipitously into a failed state the two political parties that drove us to this very avoidable sorry state are busy junketing around the country trying to come back to power or continue in power.”
According to him, “Nigeria cannot survive another day of this mindless, rudderless leadership of APC or go back to the rental government of PDP, more so with the age, health status and global credibility issues of the candidates of the two political parties. These two candidates have actually reduced the global rating of the office of the Nigerian President by their public fight. How would you feel to have a President heavily tainted as an alleged drug Lord or one accused of criminal activities?” he queried.
Professor Utomi is therefore impressed that most Nigerians have “decided to back the more credible, competent, young, energetic and trusted candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi.”
At the Clean Up Nigeria event which also held simultaneously across the country, Utomi stated that “it’s time to invite everyone to look at where our country is, to look at how much it needs cleaning. That cleaning begins from the physical, we need to clean up our environment because climate change is real, we need to clean up our consciences, because to serve the people is a central demand of our citizenship, we need to clean up our ways so that our country can prosper.”
Professor Utomi encouraged Nigerians to ensure that the activity is sustained to clean up the environment and that in cleaning our environment, “we set our minds to clean up corruption, to clean up nepotism, to clean up state capture, to clean up the desire to dominate others because truly it is fascism and it is creeping into our politics.”
Professor Pat Utomi had also observed that Africa is host to significant forest belts that play critical roles in absorbing carbon emissions and thereby putting our country in better steads as part of the planet. He reckoned that if “our young people commit to this saving of the planet, it can be an outlet for a variety of things, an outlet for truly saving the advance of the dessert into our country which has direct bearing on poverty. Our concern is to stop the desert, to build a green army from which we can receive enormous credit for our country.”
Professor Utomi therefore expects that young people will learn what late President Kennedy said to the youth of America, “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,” but in this case for themselves in the long-term. Said he, “with the youth of Nigeria going around, cleaning up our rural areas as we are cleaning the urban areas we will be able to generate an economic machine that will move our economy forward, but more importantly we will be able to get young people to bond, to engage the problems of now, and learn how to change their country, take their country over, cleaning up the environment, they will clean up consciousness and give us a new country that we can all be proud of.”
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