Okowa Frustrates Peter Obi’s Delta State Rally – Utomi

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The scheduled  Monday, January 9 rally by Mr Peter Obi and the Labour Party in Asaba Delta State has come under threat following alleged attempts by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration to frustrate it.

Convener of the Big Tenth, Professor Pat Utomi, on Friday, disclosed that the Labour party has been prevented from using any of the public facilities in the state to host its rally on Monday.

Utomi, who convened an international press conference to call for global action against those who abuse the public trust, decried growing incivility among Nigerian governors who deny opposition politicians the opportunity to campaign in their states.

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According to him, the experience of many who understand the essence of Democracy and who are participating in current elections suggests a significant level of a collapse of civility, growing fascism and polarization of the country by politicians unwilling or unable to focus on the issue.

Describing governors and agents of the State who disallow access to public facilities to punish opposition ‘enemies of democracy’ working against the interest of citizens on whose behalf they hold the facilities, Utomi said he was moved to speak up from the “Office of the Citizen”, the most important in the country.

“I come to you today, not as a partisan politician or an academic and social scientist… I come as a citizen. That of the citizen is the most important office of the land in a Democracy,” he said.

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Lamenting the “collapse of civility” in Nigeria’s Democracy,  he said since “our return to democracy, a “consortium of scholars and pollsters from us and across Africa has 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 showed continuous declining confidence in Nigeria’s democratic order. This trend may only possibly be reversed by the new excitement of the Obidient movement, which led to a surge in voter registration, up to 13 million new voters  for the 2023 elections.”

Okowa Frustrates Peter Obi’s Delta State Rally!

The Convener of the Big Tent said his experience with the campaign of 2023 though marked by the sense of hope from excitement about the organic push of the Obi/Datti movement is that there has been a drastic decline in civility on the part of many politicians and a crystallization of cleavage to paint that Nigeria could be getting pushed into a class war that could destabilize its sub-region “and push us into anarchy. It is imperative we move to reduce incivility in our Democracy.”

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Citing a classic example of preventing the opposition from using public venues for rallies, destroying posters and billboards of the opposition and intimidating Landlords from letting outbuilding for the opposition, he said the most scandalous is Delta State.

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According to him, Churches and Traditional rulers are scared of a vindictive government that might punish them for availing of their facilities. “They describe the State Government as so vindictive they could not risk allowing the opposition to use their facilities.

Okowa Frustrates Peter Obi’s Delta State Rally!

“This compares so poorly to my experience campaigning in 2007 when a governor from an opposing party thought our cars could not survive the roads and gave us the use of SUVs from the government House or even the experience of the 1960s when Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief H.O Davies would go out to campaign for their two different parties and in the evening one would drive up to the home of the other and pick him up to go to play tennis and have a glass of beer after.”

What Big Tent is saying

Unless we can restore our democracy to the rational public conversation or what Waziri Ibrahim would call“politics without bitterness” the polarization of politics could be the doom of all.”

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Drawing examples from the history of the US Democratic evolution Nigeria seeks to emulate, Utomi said it’s sad that the current experience is the loss and sense of shame in  Nigeria, meaning that “people can break their word and look on boldly in the face and dismiss their word as politics.”

“But character matters,” he said.

“How can anybody trust someone who takes the oath of office and reneges on it. Values shape human progress, and politicians displaying a lack of character depict a sense of deep loss for Nigeria.

“It is important therefore that we save their country by ensuring we keep people who lack character away from politics.”

Okowa Frustrates Peter Obi’s Delta State Rally!

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