The former presidential candidate and founder of the Center for Values ​​in Leadership (CVL), said the nation’s democracy was being threatened by a growing situation in which opposition parties were denied public facilities to hold rallies in some states. before the next general election.

“The experience of many who understand the essence of democracy and who are participating in the current elections suggests a significant level of collapse of civility, growing fascism and polarization of the country by politicians who are unwilling or unable to focus on the issue. .

“Since our return to democracy, a consortium of academics and pollsters from us and across Africa have been surveying and examining attitudes towards democracy and elections in Africa. They have offered us longitudinal data on society’s willingness to political life.

“Unfortunately, the data has shown a continued decline in confidence in the democratic order in Nigeria.

“This trend may only be reversed with new excitement from the Obidient movement, which has seen nearly 13 million new voters register to vote in 2023 in Nigeria.” he said.

Describing Nigeria’s democracy as the collapse of civility, utomi He said that a situation in which some state actors used public funds to oppress the opposition, called for the need to save democracy from its enemies.

According to him, his campaign experience has also witnessed the intimidation of owners, religious centers and traditional institutions for allowing the opposition to use some of their facilities to hold rallies.

“My experience with the 2023 campaign, while marked by a sense of hope for the enthusiasm for the organic momentum of the Obi/Datti movement, has been a drastic decline in civility on the part of many politicians and a crystallization of the division to paint. . that Nigeria may be drawn into a class war that could destabilize our sub-region and push us into anarchy.

“It is imperative that we move to reduce incivility in our democracy.

“Our democracy has been in decline for some time. When we see a terrifying threat, it’s important that we speak up. I have seen a terrifying threat of intolerance,” he said.

Utomi, a former head of the Lagos Business School, called on Nigerians to vote against political parties that bully other parties or prevent democracy from working in 2023.

According to him, there is a need for Nigerian citizens to be accountable to people who hold public office.

The professor said that as a presidential candidate in 2007, he visited every state in the federation campaigning without intimidation, describing current events in contrast.

“The classic example includes preventing the opposition from using public places for rallies, destroying opposition posters and billboards, and intimidating landlords from renting buildings to the opposition.

“The experience in Delta has been the most outrageous where even the Churches and traditional rulers describe the government as so vengeful that they couldn’t risk allowing the opposition to use their facilities.

“This compares so badly to my campaign experience in 2007 when a governor from an opposition party thought our cars couldn’t survive on the roads and gave us the use of government house SUVs.

“Or even the experience of the 1960s when Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief HO Davies would go out campaigning for their two different parties and at night one would go to the other’s house and pick them up to go play tennis and have a glass of beer afterwards.

“Unless we can restore our democracy to rational public conversation or what Waziri Ibrahim would call ‘politics without bitterness’, the polarization of politics could be everyone’s undoing.” he said.

According to him, it is important, therefore, that Nigerians save their country by making sure to keep people who lack character out of politics.

Stating that 2023 marked his 50 years in active activism since 1973, Utomi said that citizens were just waking up to their duties, “But I don’t think they’re doing enough.”

According to him, despite INEC stopping Rolling Voter Registration (CVR) too soon, more than 12 million Nigerians were able to register to participate in the elections.

“If INEC hadn’t stopped the registration, I’m sure we would have gotten about 20 million new registered voters,” he said.

After denouncing the decline in security, Utomi called for the decentralization of the nation’s security.

He said: “We can have multi-layered policing that will make the police more effective. Why don’t we have a proper conversation about this instead of name calling?

He condemned the nation’s economic challenges, describing them as self-inflicted.

Utomi said that if the nation shifts from consumption to production, the country’s situation will change.

The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the Big Tent coalition is leading the Labor Party’s presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi and his running mate, Dr Datti Baba-Ahmed.