A political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, on Friday decried the growing intolerance and decline in democratic virtues among politicians ahead of the 2023 general elections
Utomi, who spoke at a press conference in Lagos, lamented that opposition parties were not allowed to use public facilities for campaign rallies, while their billboards were destroyed.
He added that even landlords had refused to rent their property to the opposition.
Utomi, who is the Convener of The BIG-TENT Coalition of Political Parties, Social Movements and Civil Society Organisations for Obi-Datti presidential campaign, warned politicians against heating up the polity with provocative statements in the days leading to the elections.
He said: “The experience of many who understand the essence of democracy and who are participating in current elections suggests a significant level of a collapse of civility, growing fascism and polarisation of the country by politicians unwilling or unable to focus on the issue.
“Since our return to democracy, a consortium of scholars and pollsters from us and across Africa has been polling and surveying attitudes regarding democracy and elections in Africa. They have offered us longitudinal data on the disposition of society to political life.
“Sadly, the data has shown continuously declining confidence in the democratic order in Nigeria.
“This trend may only possibly be reversed by the new excitement of the Obidient movement which has caused nearly 13 million new voters to register to vote in 2023 in Nigeria.
“My experience with campaign of 2023, though marked by the sense of hope from excitement about the organic push of the Obi/Datti movement, is, there has been a drastic decline in civility on the part of many politicians and a crystallisation of cleavage to paint that Nigeria can be getting pushed into a class war that could destabilise our sub-region and push us into anarchy.
“It is imperative we move to reduce incivility in our democracy.
“Our democracy has been on a downward slide for some time now. It is important when we see frightening threats that we speak up. I have seen a frightening threat of intolerance.”
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