SAN FRANCISCO, August 31, (THEWILL) – Professor Patrick Okedinachi Utomi, Pat Utomi (as he’s fondly called) needs no introduction to any avid follower of the socio-economic and political issues in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. A professor of Political Economy, an astute management expert by trade and the founder of the Centre for Value in Leadership, the former presidential aspirant is a leading scholar and consultant in the fields of business, media and political economy.
As is his trademark when he addresses salient issues of the economic and political landscape of the country, he holds nothing back whether it is for or against his political party. His only focus is the significance of the issues in discourse. This was apparent in his latest appearance on Channels Television, the multiple award-winning 24-hour news and media organisation. The Lagos Business School professor and member of the ruling political party in the country, the APC, x-rayed what he considered to be the failure of the incumbent administration on a variety of topics in his professorial custom that evidenced a considerable depth of knowledge and awareness of the status quo.
“I think the government is crippled,” Utomi noted without ambiguity. “If there is anything absent in Nigeria, it is leadership. At every level of our society, there is a failure of leadership,” he emphasised his point.
Professor Pat Utomi is nothing if not an advocate for strong and efficient leadership. As founder of the Centre for Value in Leadership, he has made that advocacy a career pursuit. He has shown it in the life he has led and in establishing the groups “The Concerned Professionals” and “The Restoration Group”. And so, it is understandable that he hammers on it at every turn.
“Leadership,” he insists, “is about connecting to the soul of the people and giving everything sacrificially to lift it up.”
In this, it is his submission that the political class has failed. In his view, there is no sign that Nigeria practiced the type of politics that ensures the government is responsive to the immediate and remote needs of the people the government ought to serve and sacrifice for. As a consequence, Nigeria has arrived at what he termed an “existential crisis”.
In apportioning blame for this, he does not readily absolve himself.
“We have an existential crisis. The political class has failed Nigeria. Let’s be honest, including all of us. I am part of them but I have fought always to make it different but you don’t always win,” he noted with a sense of reality.
Without mincing words, the professor alluded to the fact that the political structure as presently constituted in Nigeria favoured the worst among us and not those who sincerely desire to make a difference. It is structured to prevent those who have what it takes to make a difference from achieving any manner of appreciable success.
One reason for this, he stated was the apparent lack of internal democracy within various political parties. Since most of these political platforms have become the private properties of a handful of politicians whose word is law, the political structure is unconducive for progress. Those who come through that process are individuals who are motivated by selfish interests, the desire for personal power and influence and whose objectives are aimed at self-centred material acquisition. This category of politicians therefore obstruct the smooth-running of the country and prevent it from heading forward, he surmised.
Turning his attention to the principle of separation of powers in the Federal Government structure that Nigeria operates as a democracy, he decried the malfunctioning of the system as presently holds. “Total collapse” were the terms he used.
“There is a total collapse of separation of powers and the legislature has taken over running the executive and the executive is complicit in allowing that to happen … anytime I have been asked to analyse the budget in this country for the last 20 years, I don’t analyse the budget because the budget process in this country is a joke,” he said emphatically.
In a mournful mood, the economist described the abject state of the process.
“Today, the House Committee Chair on Appropriation is more important to a national budget than the Minister of Finance because this game that is played in the National Assembly means that what comes out is really the budget of the National Assembly, not of the executive branch and the executive brand has refused to engage the matter.
“What is going on today is a hijack of the executive functions by the legislature and for most of them, it is just a game,” he soberly admitted.
He told of his experience with Honourable Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who have approached him with procedural complaints about the process, intimating him with the facts of how legislators run the budgets of their ministries, grumbling about how their monies are being channelled at the National Assembly; a bastardisation of the principle of separation of powers.
In his conclusion, Professor Pat Utomi offered what he believed to be the way out of the quagmire which he sees the country mired in. He submits that the leadership vacuum must be addressed for progress to be considered possible in Nigeria and a constitutional reform must be instituted to effectively and essentially cut down the extra-judicial powers the legislative branch has arrogated to itself especially as it concerns the budget and the national purse.