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Utomi on the side of the masses



In many ways, Professor Pat Utomi, director in Lagos business School, can be counted among Nigerians that stand up when it matters most to provide the guide lamps in repositioning the nation. Endowed with multiple skills and consummate intellect, Utomi, has always taken principled positions on key national issues, even when it entails queuing on the side of the minority.  

In the run up to the 2007 general elections when notable politicians had lined up for the crumbs from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he had pitched camps with the African Democratic Congress (ADC), on the platform of which he ran for the presidency. Though he did not actualize his dreams in the highly flawed exercise, his issue-based campaign added an intellectual dimension to the otherwise drab contest.

In addition to his corporate and intellectual disposition, he is also known to have always spared a thought for the down-trodden and the deprived masses of the country. This, it is argued accounts for his constant demand for standard practice in governance. He had at the heat of the 2007 campaign advocated the “servant leader” model as a means of serving the people better.

Incidentally, when the attraction for the model caught up with other candidates, they, including late President Umaru Yar’Adua, latched on it without acknowledging Utomi as the originator. 

In the current dispensation, as Protem chairman of the Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP), Utomi has come again with another advocacy. He has in this instance, advocated lynching and stoning of non-performing politicians, as remedy for bad governance. Utomi particularly fingered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the major warehouse for such non-performing politicians, adding that the trend poses a threat to Nigeria ’s progress. He argues that the party does not have what it takes to fix the country, urging Nigerians to ensure that the party was voted out of power in 2011 to be replaced by credible people, who have both integrity and ability, to deliver on promises get into office.

Nigeria ”, he warned, “is not going to get anywhere under the PDP administration. For me that is an article of faith. Nigeria is not going anywhere under the PDP, and that is the whole truth. It is not a political statement, but it is a matter of fact deep from my soul.”

He described the PDP as a platform for elite accommodation in sharing of the people’s economic rights, adding that the party does not have the capacity to move the country to become a just and progressive society. 

Utomi, is not alone on this kind of thinking about the PDP. Indeed, many Nigerians have expressed reservations on what the PDP has become.

Okey Nwosu, Chairman of the ADC is among many of such Nigerians, though he believes the party could be remedied. He claimed that PDP has so degenerated that it has perverted the National Assembly and other sectors of the nation.

His words: “There is no doubt that the PDP has degenerated. But if President Goodluck Jonathan is true to his words about bequeathing a clean political system to Nigeria , then he must make a strong statement with the PDP. He must rebrand the PDP and change its orientation, and that will be a sign that he can change the country”

Utomi who sees economy and politics as two sides of the same coin, had had occasions in the past to fight for civil servants. One of such occasions was earlier this year when he canvassed for decent pay structure for civil servants, which he said was one of the reasons for corruption in the country.

He had insisted then that Nigerians should not just be made to earn salaries that would only take them to work and back without adding value to their living standard.

Seeing the welfare of civil servants as good for any economy, Utomi had also called for annual training of civil servants as a possible boost to the any economy.

Notwithstanding his often lofty prescriptions for the economy, Utomi, has often been accused by critics as being high on theories but very low on practical delivery. They particularly criticize him as a man who did not perform any magic even the few times he had been in positions. They also insinuate that he does not have the electoral value to win elections, even in his ward.

However, in spite of the criticisms against him, he has his ardent admirers who are ready to defend him anywhere. These have at times described him as a man who would not sacrifice his principles to score cheap political gains. According to them, Utomi would not compromise on any principle he holds dear.

Utomi was born on February 6, 1956 in Kaduna . He attended the University of Nigeria , Nsukka (UNN) and at the Indiana University Bloomington, USA for his postgraduate qualifications.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria and a Senior Faculty of the Lagos Business School - Pan African University ; he is Director of The Centre for Applied Economics at the Lagos Business School .  He has served in senior positions in government, the private sector, including Chief Operating Officer, Volkswagen of Nigeria.






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