One of my dear friends and fellow church members, Dr. Adele Nwankwo intimated me a couple of weeks ago about a renaissance movement that has been going on as regards to the proposed visit of Nigeria 's Presidential Candidate, Professor Pat Utomi to Michigan , United States . I told him that I am not interested in Nigeria Politics but that I will like to at least visit and see what Professor Pat Utomi feels qualifies him to ascend to such position as a Nigerian President.
Subsequent to that, on the 21st of October 2006, Nigerian Presidential Candidate Professor Pat Utomi made the much, anticipated visit to a town in Michigan called Clarkston. He was hosted by a group of Nigeria Professionals that are quite in their own rights accomplished, the kind of individuals that want to see change, and that individually or collectively should have a lot to offer Nigeria and its' future.
On my arrival at about 6:30pm, I was quite convinced that I was at the right place, with the right Nigeria individuals and that on a collective note, the right agenda, for our great Nation, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I was warmly welcomed and right away introduced to Professor Pat Utomi, who stood up, bare footed and with great pleasure, humility and sense of purpose, exchanged pleasantries. He was at that moment occupied with another individual but, subsequently, I got a chance to sit down for a chat with him.
I made it clear that I was not interested in a formal interview but a somewhat informal talk that will be premised on international affairs, global economy, Nigeria 's role in Africa, Peace keeping, Conflict Resolution and Nigeria 's overall leadership role in Africa . I also wanted to know Professor Pat Utomi's take on the membership role that United Nations had awarded to South Africa in the Security Council as its' member at the expense of Nigeria.
Professor Pat Utomi started by referencing one of his friends that was of the opinion that, "[u] ntil we get Nigeria Politically right, we will not get Africa right", and that "the key to Africa's success is in Nigeria's success." He continued to eloquently elaborate that in foreign affairs, his goal as President of Nigeria if elected will be to make Nigeria competitive in order to engender the type of growth renaissance that the country and its' people will need. His example of Nigeria's role in Peace Keeping in conflict areas such as, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Liberia, and Angola, to him highlights Nigeria's sacrifices that should have been noted and exalted but instead, he sees a missed opportunity where in the Liberian conflict, given all of Nigeria commitments, sacrifices, both monetarily, human life, and all, that at the last stage of the peace initiative, America jumped in and took credit for all of the work that Nigeria had done for years in order to achieve such peace. To him, that happened primarily because of the Nigerian leadership colossal failure and that that would never have happened if under his Presidency. Those attendant high points, according to Professor Pat Utomi are what Nigeria needs when competing for leadership roles such as the membership to the United Nations Security Council. I thanked Professor Pat Utomi, for his time because I was cognizant of the time and the other individuals that were waiting to exchange pleasantries with him, I also promised to chat some more with him at a later time if and when his schedule permits.
7:30pm saw the arrival of more guests amidst an ambiance of Live Classical Piano music that permeated the airwaves and the well-catered food that makes one so famished as to want to eat and eat and eat. Needles to say that all participants were duly entertaining themselves with food, beverages and mingling ever so happily. Professor Pat Utomi's campaign manager for the North American region Mr. Patrick O. Okigbo III, welcomed the guests and introduced a dear old friend of Professor Pat Utomi, Dr. Eze C. Ebube who resides in Puerto Rico, (interestingly, when Dr. Ebube, introduced himself to me, he left out the fact that he is a medical doctor, what a humble attitude I thought.) with a request that he introduce Professor Pat Utomi for the nights event.
Professor Pat Utomi welcomed all and spoke on his vision and why he wanted to be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He spoke of what he refers to as "[m] y 7-Point Restoration Agenda", that includes, "Restore communal Peace; Restore Leadership Confidence; Restore National Pride; Restore Global Prestige; Restore Economic Prosperity; Restore Intellectual Dynamism; and lastly, Restore Industrial Strength". He contends that he is offering himself in order to make a difference. He believes that it is either now or never, and that Nigeria has been on a downward trend for years that he believes that it will not fall any lower than where it has fallen. He elaborated his views and vision for Nigeria which to him will have a lot to do with the middle class renaissance, Nigerians in Diaspora whom he believes can help spur that renaissance by their money, technical knowledge, and the overall change from the "brain drain era to the brain gain era", to the advantage of Nigeria and Africa in general. He spoke on the need to attract Foreign Direct Investment, (FDI), Infrastructure Development, Security, Education, and the overall restoration of Ethics, morals and honesty in Nigeria 's government, and ways of doing business. He also referenced to all that are interested in reading more on his views to visit his candidacy website: http://www.patutomi2007.com.
One interesting point that he raised was that the military regime from the early 1980's to late 1990's was the singularly negative thing that happened to Nigeria's Education, that simply the military regime was out of touch with education and how it can help in propagating the growth of any given society.
A question and answer session followed after his speech, and again, he eloquently in his humble charismatic, charming way responded to all issues raised that mostly bordered on his general speech, but one worth noting is his views on the dangers to his person and life as a result of his quest for the office of the Presidency of Nigeria, to which he responded that he does have a noble duty to make a difference and should not because of fear of dying, withdraw himself from the possible persons that can make a difference for Nigeria and its' future.
I wanted to ask more questions such as, "given the renaissance that Professor Pat Utomi is premising, how does he factor in the role of the judiciary, and how that can be changed in order to meet the new challenges in areas such as financial, environmental, and in order words, the enactment of new statutes that will help safeguard the gains made", but I blatantly forgot the question to pose when I had the opportunity to do so, but do hope to again ask those questions of Professor Pat Utomi when next I see him.
After this experience with Professor Pat Utomi, I could not help but reflect on an article that I had written on May 24th, 2006, and published in the Nigerian Village Square, titled "THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE, GLOBALIZATION, DEMOCRACY AND WAY FORWARD" http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/content/view/3107/55/.
As at the time of the referenced publication, I was not aware of the existence of Professor Pat Utomi, nor was I aware of his political views, convictions et al. It finally dawned on me that most, if not all of the issues that I addressed on that article, Professor Pat Utomi have thought about, addressed and have developed a concept on how to solve. He understands very well the Global Economic Issue, International Relations, Healthcare Issues, Human Rights, Job Creation, Empowering the Middle Class and the advantages of courting the Nigerian Professionals in the Diaspora. He is one that I was actually looking for in that piece when I needed to find that face that will represent Nigeria . Professor Pat Utomi is credible, articulate, intelligent, purposeful, educated, a manager and an overall human being that does have the interest of Nigeria at heart. He does not want to be President of Nigeria, because it is his turn. He does not have the stolen money to effect the type of campaign prevalent in Nigeria Politics, but I see him with the masses, the grass roots, the underprivileged that are in the majority, by the way but without a voice. I see Professor Pat Utomi as the last hope for the common Nigerian who is currently fed up with leadership mediocrity, corruption, ignorance, stupidity and overall lackadaisical leadership attitude that have currently been the norm in Nigerian Politics. He is that face that Nigeria needs in order to grow, be credible a state, get its house in order and become great again.
In conclusion, Vice President Atiku in my referenced piece has proven me right when I questioned his face and his image for Nigeria as he is currently under investigation in Nigeria for corruption. Alahaji Ibrahim Babangida has also proven me right when I referenced his lack of articulated views on issues confronting Nigeria , human right et al. He is currently entangled on the issue of the Vastas murder and his widow. It is good to note that less than 6 months to the Nigerian Presidential Election, only Professor Pat Utomi had campaigned with an agenda. The rest of the cast are either premising their campaign on their God given right to rule Nigeria and quite frankly, with some sort of arrant exuded arrogance on the part of IBB and Atiku.
One will then ask, how then does one effectuate the quest for Presidency of Professor Pat Utomi, and to that I will offer some insight on what some of us that are fed up and want a change for the growth of Nigeria should do;
- For those in the Diaspora ÔÇô Monetary contributions can help ÔÇô he is not a deep pocket like IBB and Atiku, he does not have stolen money.
- Individually publicizing his presidential quest to our relatives and family members in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, who by the way may not be previewed to his substance;
- Publicly making enough noise that will help in forestalling any rigging in the next coming elections. In other words, they need to know that we are involved, engaged, paying attention and will not tolerate their shenanigans and business as usual mentality of corruption.
Hopefully, when we all get involved and demand a change, change will come, just like it did, according to Professor Pat Utomi, to China , South Korea and all of the other "Asia Tigers" as he would like to call them.
Cecil Ibegbu Writes from Michigan, United States of America and can be reached at: Cibegbu@yahoo.com