BusinessDay

Utomi dismisses alleged rift with Peter Obi as fake news

Patrick Utomi, political economist and member of the Labour Party (LP), has described as ‘fake news’ the rumoured rift between him and Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the party.

Speaking on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics, on Sunday, Utomi described the alleged rift as the imagination of some naysayers and those fighting to truncate Obi and the LP’s chances of changing Nigeria’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 Agbo, a town that I have not visited in years – you know me very well,” he said.

“One conversation I can have with anybody and dispute about it is money. Whenever there is a money issue and people are disputing, I walk away, even if I have billions to lose, “he added, explaining how he values his professional ethics over compromised monetary rewards.

“I helped found a company that will 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 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 fake news.’

Read also: Labour Party to deploy doctors, nurses as polling units agents

On sourcing funds from the diaspora for the Labour Party, Pat Utomi 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 again 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 donate money,” he added.

Utomi made reference to the large number of young Nigerians living and working abroad who are eagerly looking forward to making their contribution toward the success of the Labour 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,” he explained.

“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.”

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

Responding to whether the LP was breaching any laws 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 other smaller African countries allow diaspora to vote; Ghana, Kenya, and others. In Nigeria, they can’t vote because Nigerian politicians are afraid that if the diaspora are allowed to vote, they would likely not win elections.”

Utomi explained that contribution from Nigerians abroad doesn’t 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 that the electoral law can’t say Nigerians can’t give N100 to a candidate.

The political economist encouraged Nigerians to extend their little support to the LP through the portal.

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