Chairman of the Big Tent Coalition of political parties and CSOs for the Obi-Datti campaign organisation, Prof. Pat Utomi, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to extend the dateline for registered voters to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
Utomi made the call on Saturday, January 28, 2023, at the Big Tent’s grassroots engagement for the Obi-Datti movement in Lagos
The group had another round of the Clean-Up Nigeria Project in Lagos to promote a culture of cleanliness of mind, body and environment.
The Professor of Political Economy 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.”
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The Director of Media and Communications for The Big Tent, Charles Odibo, in a statement, quoted 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,” he stated.
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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 organisations 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.”
Meanwhile, INEC which had proposed to end distribution of PVCs on Sunday, 29th January, announced extension of the deadline to Sunday, 5th February, to allow more registered voters collect their PVCs at the Commission’s Local Government offices.
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 Obi-Datti 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.
Utomi expressed delight 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,” he added.
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Professor Utomi encouraged Nigerians to ensure that the activity is sustained to clean up the environment adding that in cleaning the environment, tbe citizens would prepare their minds to clean up corruption, nepotism state capture, and other forms of vices that smacks of “fascism” which according to him, “is creeping into our politics.”
Prof. Utomi, who is also the founder of the Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL) had also observed that Africa is host to significant forest belts that play critical roles in absorbing carbon emissions and thereby putting Nigeria 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.”
Utomi reiterated that therefore, expects young people to 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,” Utomi stated.