2023 polls: Utomi tasks foreign election observers on uprightness, commitment
Prof. Pat Utomi, Convener, Big Tent for Obi/Datti Presidential Ticket has urged international election observers to do their work with commitment and objectivity.
Utomi who made the call on Thursday in Lagos at a news conference, said the call became necessary following his observations on the activities of some foreign election observers in Nigeria in past presidential elections.
He accused some of them of unwittingly suppressing democracy in Nigeria as their role had an inoculation effect on the rights of citizens to elect the candidates they wanted to lead them.
“Their palliative call for calm when the rage of the cheated wells up is the reason Nigerian lies prostrate. I am beginning to take exception to some election observers being a whitewash on abuse by those who are bent on abusing elections,” he said.
He noted that foreign missions in Nigeria know the Nigerian politicians who had invested much in violence, voter intimidation and suppression, including manipulating voters registers to disenfranchise voters, just as they also know the very corrupt politicians who bought votes.
“The missions also know politicians who use stolen public funds to block access for citizens.”
He urged all missions and observers in Nigeria in the forthcoming elections to remain upright and ensure they stood on the side of truth and fairness and speak up on their observations.
“The currency of the centre-periphery thesis of international political economy may have run out decades back but Nigeria’s challenges proves its validity and veracity,” the political economist said.
Utomi also called for the establishment of an ‘International Crimes Court’ where politicians who rigged elections and those who intimidated and suppressed voters during elections would be tried and punished accordingly.
He called on Nigerians to rise up, go out enmasse on Saturday to change history by replicating what happened in Kano between Rabiu Kwankwaso and Ibrahim Shekarau.
“Shekarau as a teacher challenged Kwankwaso who was a sitting governor with all the state powers but the will of the people of Kano prevailed at the end and shekarau was declared winner because they voted and guarded their votes to ensure that nobody stole it.
“These young people who rose up must now know that their future is in their hands and not in these fancy arrangements which only mortgage their future,” he said.
Utomi expressed worry about what he called “INEC’s not so well performance in PVC distribution as well as creation of new polling units.”
He noted that people considered the new polling units a threat to certain interests by the look of their names being posted miles away, as restricted movements would disenfranchise them.
He also insisted that the Lagos Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Olusegun Agbaje must be reassigned as a matter of urgency before the election.
“I have watched INEC treat with kid’s gloves the widespread calls for the rearrangement of its REC in Lagos. Not to respond to that is a big question mark on the credibility of the elections in the state
“I call on the international community to note this point. The Nigerian people want the REC, Mr Segun Agbaje redeployed.
“His skills can be as valuable in any other state as they are in Lagos state,” he said.
He commended the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, whom he said had given assurance that the military would provide adequate security during the election.
“They gave us assurance and we want to take them by their words,” he said.
He called on all Nigerians including those who did not get their PVCs to go out and form citizens’ army, which remained the most important security so as to be able to secure their votes.
“Nigerians should create social barriers or what is called the people’s army. They must mobilise to vote massively and stay at the polling centres until the results are uploaded,” he stated.