Professor Pat Utomi speaking about how the Nigerian economy has been managed by successive governments has stated that the “class of 1966” are still running the country with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Professor Utomi said that there was the need to get rid of more politicians and instead replace them with statesmen, people who can think outside party politics. “The central thing driving us should be Nigeria, the future, the children, productivity and growth. These are realities and should happen, but they are not happening.
“What happened in Nigeria is that the culture of the class of 1966 was primarily anti-intellectual. Maybe, they did not think through it as a policy, but they forced Nigeria’s brightest minds to live the town”, Utomi told The Guardian.
“The mistakes with the savings of excess crude earnings alone are so glaring that I think people everywhere should understand our problem. But we just chose not to understand that more than anything, we should educate the Nigerian people about why leaderships is an intellectual activity. We need to think.”
“This class also managed to demonize thinking so much that when you are thoughtful in Nigeria, people will say it is theory. Nigerians should have gone beyond this to believe that thinking is something that doesn’t work. Everywhere in the world, when leaders gather, they are looking for thinkers to be around them. But in Nigeria, we chase them away. As in popular culture, people in the street say, grammar. That is one of the cultural damages”, he said.
Speaking about claims from the Government about the country moving out of recession, he said “
“See, this obsession with certain statistical numbers over incomplete understanding of people’s serious situation, I believe, is part of our problem. What is recession?
“Decline in growth, quarter over the quarter and so we are in this technical thing called a recession. If you manage to begin to grow the economy, say you have one quarter of positive growth and another quarter of positive growth, how much has that really changed the life of the average citizen out there? That is why for me, one of the best ways to look at history is the way offered by one of the great sociologists of the 20th century, Wright Mills.”
“He argues in his famous ‘the sociological imagination’ that you do not understand history until you get to that intersection point of statistics where some people died in the pursuit of personal troubles and until you understand a family that has managed to borrow, cheat, steal to put six children through university and all of them are unemployed.”
“Until you can understand their circumstance, you don’t understand history and it means you don’t understand whether recession is over in terms of statistical numbers or not. So, playing this game in terms of recession is totally meaningless to me.”
“I really don’t care whether we are in recession or we are not in recession, what I care about is the quality of life of Abubakar, Rasheed, Chukwuemeka, that is what really matters and it has not escaped mystery yet. Was it not Goodluck Jonathan who said that Nigeria was thriving? After all, it was the fastest growing Jet market in the world? That is a layman’s language in describing the thriving growth of an economy.”
“The measure of distribution of income in our country is a disaster, the country where many people cannot eat one good meal a day and a number of people are buying private jet, which is ill gotten wealth. If they worked for it, you will see the jobs created by their enterprise, but they have private jets in reserve and don’t have people in their employ. These are the kinds of people that need invitation to come and explain themselves”