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Pat Utomi: Politics, enterprise mired in scholarly brilliance

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PATRICK Okedinachi Utomi, is a professor of political economy, management and communication expert, besides a politician and social crusader. He became Special Assistant to President Shehu Shagari at the age of 27. A Pan Nigerian whose early exposure to reading shaped the course of his career. He believes that leadership at any level should create the right platform for the people to aspire to lofty heights and for the country to stand tall among comity of nations.

  Prof. Utomi’s stand on national issues makes people sometimes misinterpret him as an activist. His position stems from advocacy on what governance should reflect. He is deeply averse to bad governance, which has plagued the country. His comments sometimes elicit media war of words with associates and opponents. One of such publicised opinion was with the former Governor of his home state of Delta, Emmanuel Uduagha. He described Uduaghan’s legacy as a sad reflection of the awful chapter of the state’s history.

  On the Biafra agitation, when some prominent people of Igbo extraction kept silent, Utomi said every Nigerian is a Biafran, he urged the federal government to initiate dialogue with Biafra agitators, using their agitation as a metaphor to describe the suffering of people in different parts of the country. “Until we can purge Nigeria of the sins that breed discontent, every Nigerian is a Biafran. The only way that societies that want to move forward have dealt with problems of people expressing dissatisfaction is political engagement.”

  The former presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), sometime ago at a forum in Awka, Anambra State warned of the impending anarchy in the country, “Any society that is not investing in the education and well-being of its future generation is seriously heading towards anarchy as a classic example of a country that is walking towards failure; the society fails largely because people like you have not done the needful to sustain the country. If you fail to show leadership, instead of reaping the demographic dividend, we will reap secession or anarchy, especially when youths lose confidence in the leadership.”

  On the state of the nation, the erudite scholar lamented that government is so dominating and suffocating. He said Nigerian politics if left unchecked would be in danger of being infiltrated by criminals. “One of the most frustrating things about Nigeria today is that most of those in public offices don’t have the capacity for where they are. There is no talent profile to determine who should be where. Most of them don’t have the foggiest clue what it takes to provide the environment to make the country prosperous.”

  Prof. Utomi submits that the 31st December; 1983 coup that toppled Shehu Shagari led administration derailed the significant progress the country would have made. “I think any living Nigerian with a brain will know that Nigeria would have been further ahead today if that coup didn’t take place on December 31, 1983, although – in my view – I was convinced that the coup was done to prevent Dr. Alex Ekwueme from becoming the president in 1987.”

  Scholarly Utomi, an Ibusa native was born on February 6, 1956 in Kaduna. He attended St. Thomas, Kano for his primary education. For his secondary education, he moved from Our Lady of Fatima, Gusau to Christ the King College, Onitsha and finished at Loyola College, Ibadan. He finished his secondary education at the age of 15. Though he made his papers he couldn’t gain entry into the university immediately. The entry age of university education then was 17, so he had to enroll at the Federal College of Arts and Science in the interim. He later got admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1973 to study Mass Communication. Graduating in 1977, he proceeded to Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA, where he got his Ph.D.

  On his return from the United States, after his graduate study, former vice-president Alex Ekwueme engaged him as consultant and was soon appointed Special Assistant by former president Shehu Shagari. The toppling of Shagari administration in December 1983 saw him joining Volkswagen of Nigeria Limited, Lagos, as assistant general manager, corporate affairs, a post he held until 1993. He was appointed professor of Social and political Economy, Environment of Business and Entrepreneurship at Lagos Business School in 2003.

  Even as a management expert, one of the most important rules that apply to him is to invest in people.“Investment in people to me is much more important than investment in stocks. As any of these people create wealth, there is an increase in pool for the whole society. Yes many will be ungrateful and will never come back to you, but like in venture capital, if it is only one that is grateful and comes back, it pays for all others.”

  The erudite scholar belongs to many professional bodies, including, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, Institute of Directors, IOD, Nigeria Economic Summit Group and Nigeria Economic Society and has served in various private sector associations such as the National Council of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), among others

  He is the co-founder of Pan African University, founder of Centre for Value in Leadership and the African Democratic Congress Party, the platform in which he contested the presidential election, before pitching his tent with the ruling All Progressive Congress. As a scholar, he has many many books and publications to his credit. He is listed in Who is Who in Africa, among other honours and awards.

Prof. Utomi who described love to mean patience, tolerance and self-giving as the ingredient to sustain a marriage buys his wife the latest BMW as a gift in every of her birthday. He is married to Dr. Ifeoma, a consultant orthodontist with five children.

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