Utomi Insists on Reforms to Tackle Nigeria’s Challenges

Pat Utomi

Uche Nnaike

The Co-convener of the National Consultative Forum (NCF), Professor Pat Utomi, has stated that Nigeria is currently in a national crisis, and that the only way out of the predicament is system reform.

He said the essence of the NCF, a non-partisan movement, is to raise national consciousness of citizens across the world to determine the direction of the country.

Utomi also called for a review of the 1999 Constitution to make it people-centred.

The NCF leader, who was a guest on the Morning Show on Arise News television, bemoaned the crisis of values and the collapse of culture in the country, saying: “Values shape human progress, but look how far down we have gone in terms of our values. When most of our countrymen are upset that there is violence everywhere, our leaders are playing with the national budget; they can’t even get the national budget to be used as an instrument for economic strategy.”

He stressed the need to restructure the minds of the people, which he said is central to getting the country right.

According to him, “What’s happening in Nigeria cannot be called a democracy, but a coup by civilians to use the instrumentality of political parties to prevent participation, encourage state capture and use the state and substitute private goals for public goals.

“This has prevented Nigeria from being among the first world countries; Nigerians have the talents and the country has the resources to become what much smaller countries that were behind us have become. The challenge is the failure of leadership, which is a function of the failure of the political party system.”

On the current state of insecurity in the country, Utomi said: “There can be no progress without real freedom, and there cannot be progress without peace.”

He said freedom is central to production, and production is key to human progress, and “if we don’t have peace, if we don’t have a sense of freedom, we cannot produce or progress.

“We need to make the current situation a national emergency, and we cannot do it by giving soldiers more guns, we will do it by looking at why people are poor and how that poverty leads them to becoming cannon powder in fighting other people’s wars. If people are making progress, they will not have the time to carry guns.”

According to the NCF leader, “People who perpetrate violence in the country are just nihilists who are angry with the society, and just kill anyone they could kill. He said he foresaw the situation about 30 years ago, and he even founded a group known as Nigerians United to Resist Anarchy, following a book which predicted West Africa’s decent into anarchy.

However, in spite of his efforts to get the people in authority to be proactive, nothing was done.

On the clamour for Igbo presidency, he said: “As an individual, I will support an Igbo presidency because it is about equity. When people feel excluded from a system, when they are not represented in how that system works, they become alienated from it; policy implementation becomes ineffective and the system eventually suffers a depreciation of legitimacy.”