Professor Pat Utomi, a previous candidate for the Labour party’s presidential nomination, has disputed that Peter Obi was involved in the purported imposition of charges against Nigerians who attended the diaspora meetings with him.
Peter Obi, the LP presidential contender, finished his visit of five American States on Sunday after consulting with members of the Nigerian diaspora about his plans.
Following allegations that certain diaspora support groups had promised to crowdfund $150 million for Obi, a support group for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, called for the disqualification of the LP candidate and his running partner, Yusuf Datti Ahmed-Baba.
Even though there is no evidence that Obi has started accepting campaign donations, either locally or from the diaspora, the Tinubu group argued that the LP candidate had broken the Electoral Act’s provisions on campaign funding and should be disqualified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In response to the accusations, Professor Utomi said that Peter Obi had no understanding about the mechanics when attending the events during his tour when addressing on Channels Tv’s “Sunday Politics” on Sunday.
“We have been invited to events, we don’t know what the mechanics are. In America the tradition is different (when) some people give breakfast or dinner, they may charge people to come to eat. But we’ve not been associated with anything, we just get invited by Nigerian groups and we attend,” said the political economist.
Utomi also noted that Obi had yet to receive any donation toward his election bid.
“They (Nigerians in the diaspora) have always given money to campaigns. I have run for president before, I got support from the diaspora in 2007 and then in 2011. When the time is right, we’re going to solicit obviously from Nigerians across the board,” he said.
The political economist further noted that a portal through which Nigerians can donate money to Obi’s campaign organization is being set up.
“These portals are not up yet. They will be up next week or so and eventually we are going to be able to access resources from the diaspora for sure. But right now, we are on sensitization tour about what makes democracy work. Right now, Nigeria’s democracy is not working because of the transaction costs that are involved,” he said.
Utomi argued that other political parties have also violated the law by “sharing dollars” during their presidential primary elections.
“All we are saying is that we are going to have a portal and every Nigerian can go in and make their contributions. What can be more democratic than that? If there is a law that opposes that, that law is fundamentally flawed that law does not deserve the name of law,” he submitted.
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