To support Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in camps across Northern Nigeria with nutritious meals this season, Professor Pat Utomi-led Big Tent Coalition of political parties and civil society groups for ObiDatti has launched what it called Obi-Datti Compassion Angels for fundraising .
This was done during the weekend while holding the first telethon on Nigeria television for political purpose.
The event brought together the people of Nigeria from across the world on a televised 13-hour live programme to engage Nigerians on the agenda of the Obi-Datti movement.
In a statement by Charles Odibo, Director of Media and Communications for the Big Tent, Professor Utomi, at the event urged Nigerians “to own the new direction for Nigeria and fund it and stop this tragedy of state not being able to function because governors who can’t pay pensions would go and borrow money, take half of the state’s budget from security account to pursue their political career interests.
Utomi, a Professor of Political Economy, reminded Nigerians that the country “is in the throes of a revolution.”
“Nigeria is in the throes of unprecedented massive change, from a period of inactive citizenship to a period where citizens themselves are the ones creating political movements,” Utomi stated.
Tracing the evolution of humanity’s socialisation, he stated that at the lowest level of social evolution according to Greek philosophers are “idiots,” a description of people who think only about themselves from which they transcended to tribesmen who are a notch ahead of idiots because they do not care for themselves alone but care for others but the others they cared for were those they shared some affinity with, a parochial kind of relationship and therefore consider anyone outside their parochial and primordial links as an enemy.
Utomi, however, noted that when people make further progress they become citizens because citizens are those according to philosophers, who share their humanity, they recognise their shared humanity.
“What matters to them is the common good of all, not necessarily the primordial considerations. We have reached a stage in the Nigerian society where we ask who are the citizens, who are the tribesmen, who are the idiots amongst us,” Utomi stressed.
The Big Tent leader noted that “it looks like a group of citizens decided that enough was enough in terms of how much progress has Nigeria made and that process needed to kick up a broad tent that will bring people together because they are human beings into a better view of their world. Nothing could have facilitated that happening more than the fact that as Peter Obi pointed out in his speech from Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, the naked truth of our reality is that bread will not be sold differently for a Yoruba man than it would be sold to a Kanuri man, so if there is going to be hunger it will get all of us. And guess what, there is hunger in the land.”
Utomi regretted that Nigeria now has the dubious status as the poverty capital of the world. “Our own government agency recently indicated that 133 million of us live in multifaceted, multidimensional poverty. What happened is that we have leadership that could not exercise imagination. This is why a new Nigeria under a new leadership is important because we have fallen to the bottom and are now saying enough is enough.”
Urging Nigerian citizens to continue to rally behind the ObiDatti movement and “take back Nigeria,” he said: “the point I have been making is that the structure of PDP and APC are such that they are incapable of leading Nigeria to a better way because the nature of the transactions in their structure is such that committed leaders cannot emerge from them, because its only about transactions.”
Highlighting the growth of the “Obidient” organic movement, Professor Utomi stated that “Labour party and those who do not want to be partisan but wanted a new Nigeria which is possible, social movements, and labour unions, started to hold conversations that led to an organic movement that has thrown up a Peter Obi candidacy to the pole position, such that every poll of seriousness that has been conducted has put this so-called outsider ahead of the traditional party candidates.”
According to him therefore, “having come where we have come to we needed to get the people to own this process. And what a better way than a telethon in which you put your money where your mouths are to own this process, own this new structure that will determine a new Nigeria in which pursuit of power is not for state capture, but pursuit of power is for use of power to serve the greater good of the greater number of our people.”
In an engaging and entertaining day that featured the likes of Onyeka Owenu, Tee Mac, and other promising young artistes, deep-dive experts from the Policy Review and Future View team of the Big Tent also gave further insight into the seven-pronged agenda of the ObiDatti’s acclaimed Manifesto.
On the policy direction being proposed by Obi to revive the nation’s comatose economy, two professors of economics from the Lagos Business School, Professor Bongo Adi, and Associate Professor Franklin Ngwu provided a brief summary of the Manifesto on the economy, in terms of how to get the Nigerian economy working again.
According to Professor Adi, “what we have today is a rentier system where, because it’s difficult to place Nigeria’s economy on the spectrum of economic models, which has created a misaligned economic system, the manifesto proposes to dismantle the structure of systems for all manner of subsidy, or rather rent seeking systems so that revenue will begin to flow back to the coffers of government.”
On his part, Associate Professor Ngwu stated that “to revive an economy you have to look at three policy directions – the monetary policy, fiscal policy, and supply side policies. Unfortunately the fiscal policy side has been on the back seat.”
Viewers from across the globe who watched on Television and streamed on all social media platforms called in to ask questions which were answered by panellists, anchored by Prof Utomi, and later joined online by Peter Obi who talked about his commitment to revamping education as a bedrock for sustainable development, and recalled how he revamped education as Governor of Anambra state during his eight year tenure.
Panellists at the day long Telethon which ran from 10 am to 10 pm, included Dr. Austin Nweze, Lead Director at Big Tent, Dr. Chidi Okpaluba, a Director of the Big Tent Independent Campaign Council, Dr. Ifeanyi Nzegwu of the Lagos Business School, Mr. Soni Irabor, renowned broadcaster, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Dr. Loretta Oduwa Ogboro-Okor, Dr. Sam Amadi and Dr. Jerry Okolo, who are experts in power, and David Hundeyin, investigative journalist, amongst others.