Pat Utomi

Professor of political economy and management expert, Pat Utomi has regretted that Nigeria is about shed its historic reason for existence, which according to him is to lift the standing of the black man in the global community by becoming the first black power, to instead becoming a source of shame to the Negro race.

Utomi who spoke at the launch of his latest book titled: “Why Not- Citizenship, State Capture, Creeping Fascism and Criminal Hijack of Politics in Nigeria,” at the Banker’s House, Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday, noted that Nigeria was “on the threshold of history, as according to him, “We are in defining times for our country. And it’s important to help get orientation right.”

He explained that he intends the book to be a wake up call for the Nigerian elite to rise to the challenge of rescuing the country from impending failure.

“The question is why I write a book? Having written a few books, could this just be habit? Each time I think book, I think of the motive of the author, his view of the nature of man in society.”

Utomi said “the purpose of the excursion that is captured in this book derives from a very early embrace of the idea of Pan Africanism.”

He recalled that in the 70s and beyond, Nigeria as a front line state led the liberation struggle of South Africa and other African countries still not free from colonialism, noting that the country rose to “the occasion during those struggle moments, that CBS star reporter, Mark Wallace would recall a telephone conversation I had with him in 1996 when I challenged his reporting where he called Nigeria the most corrupt country in the world.

“And this was just a few months before the first Transparency International Report, which actually found Nigeria the most corrupt country in the world. But he had said that before there was any objective statement on that.

“But what is even more important is what Mike Wallace said in that telephone conversation that we had. He said that immediately after the civil war, he came to Nigeria and interviewed Gen. (Yakubu) Gowon who was Head of State. And that he was so excited about what Nigeria was emerging to be that he did a story that was titled: ‘The first black power emerges.’ He said but 25 years later, Nigeria had disappointed incredibly.

“So, as I enter the autumn of my own time of being, nearly 25 years after that encounter with Wallace, and 45 years after I was supposed to have pulled off the impossible by getting Gen. Joe Garba to arrive at University of Nigeria when they were still looking for Dimka and Co, to engage us in a conversation about Nigeria’s foreign policy, I’m pained that our country stutters

“I’m pained that our country stutters and fumbles still and we are not sure if (Robert D) Kaplan’s prediction of the coming anarchy is about to come true. This is the kind of pain that leads you to begin to reflect on experience. No patriot will have these kinds of experiences and not think they have a duty to tomorrow so that such may not be, as we say in Nigeria, our portion.” Utomi warned that Nigeria’s impending failure would have disastrous consequences for the Negro race.

“Can Nigeria shed its historic raison d’être by becoming a source of shame to the black man, rather than the fountain of the redemptive essence of the Negro race? My personal fear is that Nigeria’s failure to live its promise may actually result in 1100 years of servitude for the black man.

“If that is not good enough reason to write a book, I don’t know what will be. So, how did we get here? Having experienced Nigeria as a student activist, a technocrat in the federal government, and an executive in the industry, an entrepreneur, a public intellectual, an academic, a journalist, a civil society champion and a politician, I see it as an imperative of being engaged to offer reflections on where things went wrong for the benefit of the future.

“It is clear to me that the southward journey of our ship of state and the lack of progress can be domiciled at the doorsteps of a collapse of culture, which is largely the effect of challenged citizenship behavior: State Capture, Creeping Fascism and Criminal Hijack of Politics in Nigeria.

“We are all witnesses to these developments, these things that have evolved before our very eyes. It’s not so clear what patriot’s call should be in these kinds of circumstances. Think the long term consequences of the part we are traveling is such that anybody who truly cares must do something now.”