By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
EVERY word Professor Pat Okedinachi Utomi spoke on Sunday’s programme on Channels dripped with his conclusions about where Nigeria was. Leadership, mostly its absence, ringed the issues.
Utomi is not only someone who knows what he says, but one that says what he knows. He laid out the issues and apportioned long-ignored solutions.
The sobriety of his language conveyed less anger than the issues deserved. “I think that the government is crippled; it is not connecting to the solution,” Utomi said during his appearance on Channels’ Sunday Politics.
“If there is anything absent in Nigeria, it is leadership. At every level of our society, there is a failure of leadership,” he said.
“Leadership is about connecting to the soul of the people and giving everything sacrificially to lift it up.”
The Utomi on Channels contrasted with the Utomi I exchanged banters with beside the swimming pool of the Abuja hotel where APC launched its manifesto in March 2014. His overflowing confidence in the change ahead billowed through his agbada as he managed to hold its entanglements in place, a jaunty cap completing the picture of a man viewing the future with crystal optimism.
While I interrogated his change of attire, and he reminded me that his birthplace was in the North, we had no time to investigate the content of the change. He never anticipated that change could mean things getting worse.
The National Consultative Forum, a political group that he co-chairs, is among efforts he has made to see improvements in the Nigerian condition. “We have an existential crisis. The political class has failed Nigeria let’s be honest, including all of us,” he said.
“I am part of them, but I have fought always to make it different, but you don’t always win,” Utomi, who tried to run for Governor of Delta State in the 2019 general elections, said.
His concerns ranged from political parties being the “private properties of some people whose word is law” to the exclusion of those who want to things differently so that they would benefit ordinary Nigerians.
“There is a total collapse of separation of powers and the legislature has taken over running the executive,” he said. The budget was his example.
“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 county is a joke. 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 branch has refused to engage the matter,” he said.
“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 added
He wants constitutional amendments to make the legislature part time.
Utomi has spoken. Typically, some are more concerned about the messenger than the message, their way of indicating that change, this change, is permanent.