Pat Utomi, professor of political economy, says portals to enable Nigerians both home and abroad to donate funds to the campaign of Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party, will be launched next week.
The Labour Party chieftain said this on Sunday when he featured on Sunday Politics, a programme on Channels Television.
The professor said there is nothing wrong with Nigerians in the diaspora donating funds to political campaigns in Nigeria, adding that he was a beneficiary of such when he contested to be president.
“When the time is right, the diaspora will give money. They have always given money to campaigns. I ran for president before and got support from the diaspora in 2006 and 2007 and then when I ran in 2011,” he said.
“When the time is right, we are going to obviously solicit from Nigerians across the board. We are setting up portals where people can give money.
“These portals are not up yet. They would 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 a sensitisation tour about what makes democracy work. Right now, Nigeria’s democracy is not working because of the transaction cost involved and the trade-off that has to be made.”
Asked if donating money from abroad to fund campaigns is not in contravention of extant laws, Utomi said no law should oppose the funding of political rallies from the diaspora.
“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 abroad can’t go to a portal and contribute a dollar and those at home. First of all, you have prevented them from voting,” he said.
Every other African country manages to allow their diaspora to vote – Ghana, Kenya, everybody. In Nigeria, they can’t vote because Nigerian politicians are afraid that because they are more clear-thinking voters, they will not likely win elections.
“Currently, bad-performing politicians are afraid that right-thinking Nigerians abroad will vote. Now you say they can’t even give N100 to a candidate. Are you clear with what you are saying?
“What we are saying is that we are going to have a portal that every Nigerians can go in and make their contribution. What can be more democratic than that? If there is a law that opposes that, that law is fundamentally flawed and does not deserve the name of the law.”
Utomi’s remarks have generated mixed reactions from Nigerians, with some saying funding campaigns from abroad violates the country’s laws.
The 1999 constitution and the 2022 Electoral Act prohibit political parties from taking funds donated from abroad.
Section 85 of the 2022 Electoral Act, says no political party must “holds or possesses any fund outside Nigeria” or “retains any fund or other asset remitted to it from outside Nigeria” in contravention of section 225 (3) of the constitution.
In both cases, the Act stipulates that upon conviction, the punishment shall be forfeiture of such funds or assets in addition to a N5,000,000 fine.