A professor of political economy and management expert, Professor Patrick Utomi, said Nigerians and the government must be alive to their responsibilities if the country was to witness genuine transformation.
The former presidential candidate and founder of Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL), was guest speaker at a Breakfast Meeting organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Victory Chapel, Province 21, Magodo, Lagos State. The theme of the programme was: “Christian Leadership in Contemporary World”.
He began his message by charging the audience to initiate the kind of change they were clamouring for. He said it was unfortunate that people would stay at the comfort of their rooms only to complain about everything and do nothing about it. He stated that the man with the biggest authority in an organisation might not be the most effective person in moving the organisation towards its goal. According to the erudite scholar, Nigeria has over the years, been immersed in poor leadership style, saying it was the cause of the crises the country was currently facing.
He also lamented that another major problem with leadership in Africa was the people’s refusal to be exposed to information. “Readers are leaders. If we don’t read, we won’t anticipate problems or know how to deal with them upfront.” He recalled how the Boko Haram insurgency could have been prevented when it was at its infant stage years ago. “To lead, you must be knowledgeable. People don’t follow somebody who doesn’t know where he is going. Otherwise, you fall into a ditch.”
Utomi urged the government to invest in its human resources – their education and overall well-being in order to yield demographic dividends. He expressed the belief that quality leadership would make the seemingly impossible to be possible. He recalled that he was shocked and couldn’t forget the day former president Goodluck Jonathan said Nigeria’s economy was doing well because it was the fastest growing private jets market in the world. He said it was unfortunate that Nigerians were accumulating wealth by buying obnoxious things. He said the same people had started auctioning such items.
Utomi said he could not fathom the paradox of corruption, religiosity and happiness linked to Nigerians.
“Nigerians were said to be the most religious people in the world. Just about the same time, the transparency index found Nigeria to be the most corrupt people in the world, and another study found Nigerians to be the happiest people in the world. I don’t know how many people can resolve this paradox,” he noted.
Professor Utomi told Daily Sun, shortly after the programme, that he had always remained a teacher. He said: “For the fact that I am active on the board of several companies; that is taking teaching to the boardroom literally. I am on the board of maybe 30 or more companies around the world. I still teach at the Lagos Business School.
“Yes, I am also a politician. I am a member of the ruling party, as they say in Nigeria. I understand what ruling means – a party in power, I guess. As the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo said few weeks ago, himself, I, and a few others, wrote the roadmap and manifestoes of the party.” On Christian leadership, Utomi said where the world was at the moment was as a result of Christian leadership. According to him, the Western civilisation was made possible through Christian influence, citing the spread of education as a typical example of the role of the church in promoting leadership. Christianity was responsible for modern education and modern education has been a fulcrum of human advancement and science, he maintained.
On the current economic crisis, he said President Muhammadu Buhari was ruling the country as if he was still in the medieval period. His words: “The problem with Buhari’s administration is his medieval mindset. He excludes rather than includes. So, he does not get the best idea. He is insular. I don’t push him in this conversation but I am sure that if I put my friend, the vice president under pressure, he will admit what I am saying. Because of their medieval mindset, they have created a country that is more divided than they met it. And that is a problem for leadership that is marching towards progress.”
When asked how long Nigerians might wait for the change they voted for, he said: “Everything is based on context. Take a look at the mismanagement of this fuel thing; the whole idea is nonsensical. It doesn’t have to go on like this; you are punishing Nigerian people unnecessarily. The sufferings that Nigerians have endured in the last couple of weeks over this petrol crisis have reduced productivity. If you throw it open to people across the world to bring petrol to Nigeria and sell at any price, you will discover that within a year, the price of petrol will be lower than the government’s fixed price today.
“You (Buhari) set up a committee called Transition Committee. It suggested that you deregulate the whole thing about crude oil, but no, you won’t. Your ideas go back 30 years and they are irrelevant to this world. Open up your mind and listen to people and you can make progress. To lead is to serve.”
The pastor of the province, Peter Egho, said the breakfast meeting was to tackle the enormous challenges confronting Nigerians, including the church members. He said Nigeria needed someone with a solution to the present economic disorder. “Those who have the right orientation and boldness are needed at these difficult times,” he stated.
Assistant Pastor of the province, Bisi Olowoyo, told Daily Sun that the programme was to empower Christians to live a fulfilled life. He added that God had already made certain things available to His children, but noted that they need to take some practical steps for their manifestation.