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Contributions from Nigerians abroad do not in any way violate laws on party funding – Utomi

Patrick Utomi, political economist and stalwart of the Labour Party (LP), has said that there was nothing wrong in sourcing funds from the diaspora for campaign purposes.

Utomi made the clarification on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics with Seun Okinbaloye on Sunday.

He was reacting to whether or not the LP was breaching any law on party funding outside of the country, Utomi said: “I am completely aware of what the law says. If we open a portal and say Nigerians who want to support what we stand for should contribute to it; if you say Nigerians can’t go to a portal and contribute a dollar… you have prevented them from voting.

“Mind you, every other smaller African country allows diaspora to vote. Ghana, Kenya, and others. In Nigeria, they can’t vote because the Nigerian politicians are afraid that if the diaspora voted, they would not likely win elections.”

He noted that contributions from Nigerians abroad do not in any way violate the laws against funding of a political party.

“The bad politicians are afraid that right-thinking Nigerians abroad would vote to get them out of office,” he said, adding that the electoral law can’t say Nigerians can’t give N100 to a candidate.

The Political Economist said: “When the time is right, the diaspora will give money. They have always given money to campaigns.”

“I have run for president, as you know, before. I got support from the diaspora in 2006 and 2007, and then when I ran in 2011. When the time is right, we are going to solicit donations from Nigerians across the board, but we are setting up portals where people can give money,” he added.

Utomi also made reference to the large number of young Nigerians living and working abroad who are eagerly looking forward to making their contributions toward the success of the party through payment to the campaign wallet.

“It is those young people who will give $10 from their allowances or from the money they get working there. But this portal is not up yet. It will be up next week or so, and eventually, we are going to be able to assess the resources from the diaspora for sure.

But right now, what we are about is the sensitisation tour about what makes democracy work,” he noted.

“Right now, Nigeria’s democracy is not working because of the transaction costs that are involved, the trade-offs that have to be made such that eventually when people get to power, they find out that what trumps is power and not purpose because there are so many deals, IOUs to win the elections that in the end we get the politics of politicians, for politicians and by politicians, and not democracy for the people and by the people.”

Read also: Nigerians want politicians to shun deceit ahead of campaigns

He criticised the Nigerian political elite that has crippled the country because of their selfish agenda focusing only on enriching themselves and their cronies.

Utomi, who also reacted to the allegation of rift between him and Peter Obi, presidential Candidate of Labour Party, said it was fake news.

He described the report as the imagination of some naysayers and those fighting tooth and nail to truncate Obi and the LP’s chances of changing the country’s political and economic narrative.

“It shows you how dangerous the territory we are playing in is—this thing called fake news has reached a point now. For example, I heard that things happened in Agbor, a town that I have not visited in years… you know me very well,” he said.

According to him, “One of the last conversations I can have with anybody and dispute around is money. Whenever there is a money issue and people are disputing, I walk away, even if I have billions to lose.”

He further explained how he values his professional ethics over compromised monetary rewards.

“I helped found a company that would become a multi-billion naira company, and once I saw unethical behaviour, I just walked away. Each time I see those things, I walk away. To now come and do that over campaign you know me well enough to know that that is nonsense; no such thing ever happened. We have never even had a conversation around money in any shape or form,” he said, urging Nigerians to disregard such news as fake news.

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