Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said that Nigeria is not fighting impunity to its uttermost and as such lawlessness has been left to thrive.
Speaking after the launch of ‘Why Not’, a book by Professor Pat Utomi on Tuesday, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said that the nation is still operating on primitive ideas and must walk away from this culture if things are to be set right again.
Falana stated that that a good fight against electoral malpractice before and after elections is key to stabilizing the nation.
The rights advocate said, “We are primitive and we must get away from that culture and that is why the electoral body will have to organize credible elections but you can only do that if you fight impunity that take place before or during the elections but we are not doing that right now.
“All those that rigged the elections are walking free they will also rig elections next time and that is why we must join the campaign for the institution of an electoral offences tribunal to deal with those who manipulate the elections and those who promote thuggery during elections”.
He stressed that it is the duty of the government to secure the life and property of everybody.
” I believe that the Governors and the president will have to sit down and ensure that there is security in the country, adequate security for our people.”
A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, and Professor Pat Utomi, are demanding the immediate release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
Both men spoke on Tuesday at a media briefing in Abuja under the aegis of the Nzuko Umunna, a group of Igbo professionals.
They also condemned the alleged killing of IPOB members in the southeast and urged states where the alleged killings took place to set up a panel of inquiry in their various states.
The call for Kanu’s release followed a series of protests, including that of members of the IPOB in Southeast Nigeria.
The pro-Biafra leader was arrested in Lagos on 14 October, 2015 and has been held in prison since then, despite various court orders that ruled for his release.
The Nigerian government has been advised to address the issue of youth unemployment through the introduction of a youth policy that will assist them to become employers of labour and wealth creators.
Speaking in Abuja at the 2016 Catholic Singles Conference, the co-founder of Pan Atlantic University and Professor of Political Economy, Pat Utomi, said Nigerian youths could be financially independent.
But he stressed the need for the Federal Government to create the right atmosphere for young entrepreneurs to thrive.
He said: “We don’t have appropriate policies and the right institutions to support small enterprises and provide financial support, not in the way of people coming to get their own share of the national cake like we have had in the past.
“Where commercially minded people are managing funds which the government and everybody else can support, they can get people who have the requisite skills to invest in enterprises,” Professor Utomi stressed.
He advised youths to look beyond seeking paid employment at all times by exploring opportunities that would turn them into successful entrepreneurs.
“Young people should see themselves much more as creators of wealth rather than people who get hired.
“If they see themselves that way, networks that are developing can provide them the opportunities to look for how they can be wealth creators.
“They should persevere. If you get hit once and you fall and roll over, you are not an entrepreneur.
“There is a Japanese saying that says that an entrepreneur is a man who falls seven times and gets up eight times. Many of us when we fall we roll over and play dead,” he emphasised.
This advice is coming at a time that many Nigerian graduates are without job and a period the nation is facing grave economic hardship.
Nigeria’s economic recession was officially proclaimed in a report of the National Bureau of Statistics that showed a contract of 2.06% in the Gross Domestic Product of the oil-rich nation in the second quarter of 2016.
The report showed that the decline had made the Naira weaker while lower oil prices dragged the oil sector down.
The output shrunk by 0.36 in the first quarter.
During the quarter, nominal GDP was 2.73% higher at 23.48 million Naira at basic prices.
This growth was lower than the rate recorded in the second quarter of 2015 by 2.44% points.
The government is more than ever before pushing for economic diversification, paying more attention to agriculture that had been the nation’s economic mainstay before the discovery of crude oil, to reflate the economy.
Critics have advised the government to act fast and change the tide to save the nation from unforeseen circumstances, considering the number of youths that are unemployed.
A Political Economist has advised the government to focus on building the economy rather than the value of Naira.
Professor Pat Utomi was speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Thursday.
The Economist, who was giving his opinion about the value of the Naira against that of the Dollar, said “I think we are obsessed with the value of the Dollar which is preventing us from focusing on building our economy.
“I think the value of a currency is essentially a symptom of something more important that is underline.
“Instead of getting fixated with this business of value of the Naira, why don’t we look at fixing the fundamentals and then, the value of the Naira would emerge as a function.”
Mr Utomi, however, opined that the government should keep enlightening Nigerians on how well the value of the Naira can help boost the economy – how their everyday choices can affect the economy .
“We must continue this conversation so that the incentives would be clear to people because we are the choices we make.
“The conversation must happen everywhere. One of the biggest challenges I have about our situation is the nature of the public sphere – the market place of ideas.
“People say Nigerians talk a lot, but in many ways, we don’t talk at all, we don’t have intelligent conversation.
“But plain intelligent conversation on issues would provide policy makers on which part to travel,” he explained.
A Nigerian economist has stated his opinions about the 2016 national budget presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“Putting it in a very awkward position, I consider the budget process a joke,” he said.
Professor Pat Utomi was on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday morning, few hours before the presentation of the budget by President Muhammadu Buhari before a joint session of the National Assembly.
He further said that “January 20 years ago, I was one of those who began to analyse the budget, and by December, there were issues with implementation.
“We somehow do not have the discipline of the budget process, we go through budget as public relations exercises because they are supposed to be done and decision makers go ahead to do whatever they want to do,” he said.
Low Energy In Leadership
Proffering solutions to the problem of budget implementation, Professor Utomi said that “the goal is to achieve an execution premium, but if those who are responsible for it (the budget) really had no plan whatsoever to follow the budget, then, you are wasting your time.
“When those who are responsible for it, do not see long term goals in which the budget is just a piece in an unfolding set of activities that would reach a certain goal, there is no point of it.
“I think what has happened to us is that we got to a point of disconnect between the leadership elite, the political class, the bureaucratic elite and development aspirations of the Nigeria people,” he said.
Professor Utomi further said that the major reason why the budget isn’t working in Nigeria is ‘leadership’.
“There is low energy in leadership. we are not leading the country in the right direction.
“What the country is dealing with is a huge financing gap; we used to earn so much and now, we are earning this much, if we pretend that nothing has changed, then we would go into an economic spiral”, he added.
While stating that the 2016 budget would focus on addressing youth unemployment and cater for the vulnerable, President Buhari said that Nigeria remains committed to diversification to build and reflate the economy.
The role of Information Communication Telecommunication (ICT) in creating a sustainable ecosystem for economic growth and fostering education to bring together human capital development and create local content in the Nigerian system was the focus on Channels Television’s Business Morning.
The Chairman of Mobile Software Solutions and former President Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, Dr Chris Owaje, and the founder of Center for Values and Leadership (CVL), Professor Pat Utomi, were on the programme on Thursday to enlighten Nigerians on the need to embrace the use of ICT.
Dr Chris Owaje, believes that Nigeria’s ICT ecosystem in general has taken shape because it permits life activities, business activities and competitiveness all over the world.
He stated, on Thursday, that ICT has reached a standard whereby technology was fusing with knowledge and had become the center of gravity of how the development and progress of any nation is measured.
Professor Pat Utomi emphasized the importance of ICT in education, noting that this would have an impact on the issue of poverty and job creation. “We need to take ICT back to education to make it to function well”, he said.
He added that the reason Lagos has remained the center of Nigeria’s economy in spite of the country’s dependence on crude oil, is the use of ICT.
Renowned Economist and former Nigerian presidential candidate, Professor Pat Utomi, believes that the problems facing Nigeria are those of character, leadership and pride of politicians.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today, he said that the solution to Nigeria’s problems was in rallying the country’s most influential persons to come together and seek solution.
“In most civil wars in the world, not as many people die as die in Nigeria everyday. The blood of innocents are now washing the streets of Nigeria, this is unacceptable, it cannot continue to go on”, he said.
Calling on all statesmen to come together and forget about their political differences to save Nigeria, Prof Utomi noted; “The country is dying; we can pretend all we want but Nigeria is dying.”
There had been dissenting views as regards the strategy with which to deal with the Boko Haram insurgents and Professor Utomi admitted that throughout the world there had been challenges relating to terror and starting out by accepting to trade hostages with terrorists always end up like blackmail as the terrorists would keep coming back, but he also added that the case of Nigeria was bigger.
He explained that the issue was not just about whether or not to negotiate, as it was more complex. According to him, Israelis exchanged prisoners with the Palestinians in times of crisis and the case of Nigeria should not be handled with rigidity as there were needs for ‘below the line’ approaches.
He made reference to the Nigerian Civil War when then military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, called together different leaders from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds to find a solution and the strategy brought the much desired solution.
Speaking about the rallying which was likened to a war cabinet, Utomi said that the makeup of the group should not be seen as another political issue as the concern of Nigerians should be to look for persons of high intellect and political stature who could influence change.
Going down memory lane, tracing the genesis of Nigeria’s problems, Utomi said that there was a fundamental error in 1998 with Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar rushing into the democratic processes which brought the political leadership back in a hasty manner as the political structure in Nigeria was not ready.
He said that the politicians at the time had also not come to terms with the real values of democracy and since then Nigeria has been a mess.
In moving forward, Utomi advised that there was need to seek change without fear and pride.
He referred to former American leader, Abraham Lincoln, as a true example of how leadership should be, as he emphasized the need for Nigerian politicians to shed self-pride and embrace shared values to enable the country move forward.
Bring Back Our Girls
The response of the Presidential delegation to a group of ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ protesters in Abuja, advising them to direct their protests to the terrorists had been drawing negative reactions from many Nigerians and Utomi said that he cried for Nigeria when he heard what was supposedly the response of President Jonathan to the protesters.
He said that the protest was such a great opportunity and he expected the President to wear the colours of the protesters, walk with them and show them that he felt their pains as a leader and parent.
He said that the Nigerian President “was presented on a platter of gold, the opportunity to be the Commander-in-Chief and he blew it.”
Drawing from the example of American President, Barack Obama, who had just paid an unscheduled visit to American troops in Afghanistan, Utomi said that this was the norm for a United States President and for a number of foreign leaders and he expected the Nigerian President to be able to do same.
He said that power was not worth it when ones humanity cannot be expressed as regards the lives of ordinary people. He did not expect the visit of President Jonathan to Chibok to be a matter to publicise, as it was supposed to be a normal thing for the President to show up in places of crisis and encourage the people and the troops.
He also expressed his disgust that until the outcry of the international community, “in more recent times we have seen again and again, dozens of Nigerians killed in this insurgency and there was no acknowledgement from the Government that something was wrong.
“If you have your humanity intact, the death of one Nigerian should diminish those who claim to lead us”, Utomi said.
He said that until the international community holds the African leaders accountable, the African people would not be able to experience true development.
Recommending an International Economic Crimes Court that would hunt leaders who have been found to have underdeveloped their countries due to corruption, he said, “by the time we put a few of our leaders in trial at The Hague, then Africa would start getting better.”
Utomi stated that policing is fundamentally a community based exercise and he believes that this would help to tackle the problem of insurgency in Nigeria.
He said that the corrupt nature of the politicians was the reason why many were opposing the idea.
He noted that it would be easier for someone who belongs to a community to identify troublemakers in that community, rather than the idea of bringing someone from a far distance who knows nothing about the community.
“Politicians are destroying Nigeria and they should be held accountable.”
As electioneering for 2015 gets more into focus with permutations by political parties and preparations by the electoral body, Utomi noted that the future of Nigeria would depend on the people as “the challenge before Nigeria is the Nigerian character.”
A former presidential candidate, Professor Pat Utomi, has condemned the recent governorship election in Anambra State, describing it as a ‘show of shame’.
He called for an end to the recycling of political leaders in Nigeria on the grounds of continuity and insisted that voters should be allowed to elect their candidates through free and fair elections.
“I think it is a complete mess. It is disgraceful. Nigerians who get into political life should learn to respect the Nigerian people and give them the freedom to choose.
“Let the people choose discontinuity if that is what they want.
“This thing about incumbency and continuity in Nigeria’s politics is a dangerous thing,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
The Saturday governorship election in Anambra State has generated several controversies.
Women in some parts of the State protested against the electoral process while some voters said they were disenfranchised with their names missing in the voters’ register.
Irregularities witnessed during Saturday’s election led to the extension of the voting to Sunday to enable the commission conduct a fresh election is some wards in Idemili North and South Local Government Areas of the State.
After the Sunday fresh elections, the electoral commission declared the election inconclusive due to the disparity in the number of cancelled votes and the difference between the purported winner and the runner-up.
It also said it would conduct a supplementary election in the state.
President Goodluck Jonathan has called for the strengthening of the nation’s institutions in order to overcome major challenges of financial misappropriation, political indiscipline and corruption bedeviling the nation.
The president made the call at the 42nd Annual Accountants Conference with the theme: Building Enduring Instituions for National Development which opened in Abuja.
In a message to the participants at the conference, President Jonathan advised accountants to be in the vanguard of re-ordering the paths of the nation’s economic growth.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla, underlined the need to tackle institutional decadence across the country to bring about significant change.
Presenting the lead paper, a political economist and entrepreneur, Professor Pat Utomi blamed the banking sector for the nation’s economic instability. The ICAN president, Mr. Adedoyin Owolabi however, is of the opinion that the government needs to take more advantage of public private partnerships.
The three day conference of the Institute of Chartered Accontants, lines up various national and international speakers in a no-holds barred atmosphere determined to thrash out institutional loopholes to build better strategies towards national development.