Prof. Pat Utomi, Convener of the Big Tent Coalition of political parties and civil society organisations for the Obi-Datti campaign organisation, has flagged off the ‘Clean-Up Nigeria’ project in Lagos to promote a culture of cleanliness of mind, body, and environment.
At the event which was also flagged off simultaneously across the country on Saturday, December 17, 2022, Prof. 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 serving the people is a central demand of our citizenship, and we need to clean up our ways so that our country can prosper.”
Charles Odibo, Director of Media and Communications for Big Tent, in a statement, said Prof. Utomi encouraged Nigerians to ensure that the activity is sustained every other weekend until February 2023 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.”
Utomi, a Professor of Political Economics, had also observed that Africa is host to significant forest belts that play critical roles in absorbing carbon emissions and thereby putting the country in better stead 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 desert into our country which has a 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.”
He announced that discussions are ongoing with authorities to begin to build a belt to stop the Sahara, re-foresting the forest belt in the south so that “we can actually get billions of dollars in credit that will be used to put literally all of our unemployed people to work as a new production economy is put in place.”
He said 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.
“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.”
According to Dr. Chidi Okpaluba, a Director of the BIG TENT and Coordinator of the Clean-Up project, the Vision of “Clean-Up Nigeria,” is to “mop up and properly channel the energies of our growing Obi-dient youth population to the project, through various socially impactful speak up and clean-up activities to promote sustainably organised youth led support rallies for Peter Obi’s emergence as President.”
He explained that the primary aims and objectives of Clean Up Nigeria are to create a rallying point and subject for the productive engagement of youths; create a positive neuro-association between doing good and the Obi-Datti campaign; serve as channel to support youth Speak-Up (Soro-Soke); and to advance and propagate developed common narratives on topical issues of national discourse as espoused by “Think Tank,” an arm of the Big Tent. The other objectives of Clean-Up Nigeria, according to Okpaluba, include the need to show that the Obi presidency will be all about doing good and solving societal problems; clean up our cities and de-clog the drainages in support of the world climate months and beyond; and rid our environments of plastics waste.
Beyond the physical cleanup and environmental activities, the overarching goal of the Clean-Up project is all about promoting speaking up, seeking and providing solutions to the problems and challenges bedeviling our country; rallying youths towards productive engagements; support for, and active promotion of transparency and good governance; promotion and support for issues based campaign, not religion, tribe or primordial sentiments; and the realization that everyone can do something to make Nigeria better.