A former Labour party’s presidential aspirant, Professor Pat Utomi has denied Peter Obi’s involvement in the alleged imposing of charges on Nigerians who attended the diaspora meetings with him.
Peter Obi, the LP presidential candidate, who was previously on a tour in five America States where he consulted with the Nigerian diaspora about his ambition, completed it on Sunday.
A support group of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had called for the disqualification of the LP candidate and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Ahmed-Baba following reports that some diaspora support groups had pledged to crowdfund $150 million for Obi.
The Tinubu group claimed that the LP candidate had violated provisions of the Electoral Act on campaign funding and should be disqualified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) even though there’s no indication that Obi has begun receiving campaign donations, whether locally or from the diaspora.
Reacting to the allegations, Professor Utomi, while speaking on Channels Tv’s ‘Sunday Politics’ on Sunday, stated that Peter Obi had no idea on what the mechanics were, going to the events during his tour.
“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.