By Shedrack Onitsha,
Renowned development economist and a chieftain of the All Progressive Congress in Delta State, Prof. Pat Utomi has urged Deltans to forge a new understanding across the present artificial boundaries that exist in the state and work at a collective resolve to build a better state that will best serve the interests of the people.
Utomi in a New Year message made available to newsmen on December 31st, 2017 stated that the beginning of year 2018 is a proper time for Deltans to have a sober reflection on the difficulties in the living conditions of the people.
He noted that what should begin to agitate the minds of well-meaning Deltans is how the state got to the sorry situation it has become, compared to less endowed states in Nigeria.
According to him, “why is our state where it is, and what is it that can be done to salvage things? Not many will argue that our extant reality is appropriate or deserved”, adding that “poverty, incredible levels of unemployment, youth frustration and fading dreams mark our reality in Delta.”
Comparing Delta State to less endowed neighbouring Anambra and Edo states which could have been worse off but are much better off, Utomi observed that “the story of Delta becomes more painful.”
Pat Utomi, who is presently considering a run for Governor of Delta State in 2019, attributed the arrested development of the state to a lack of the can-do spirit of former Bendel which is now lost because of newly contrived divisions.
“In my view the reason progress has stalled after the triumphs of the spirit of Bendel can be found in a few mindset problems that now endanger the future of our children, and portends anarchy if we fail to invest in the potential of our youth.
“One of them is that too many boundaries are being marked and demarcated by high artificial walls. Among them are extreme partisanship, extreme ethnic and geographic cleavage and extreme commercialisation of politics.” He added that the state cannot afford to continue to toe the path it is now taking if things must change for good, not only for today but for the next generation.”
Utomi however has encouraged Deltans to think more about finding solutions that can benefit them, and not to continue to engage in blame games.
“This is not a time for blame. It is the time for reasoning together so we can overcome the shame of our collective experience. The blame belongs to us all. What counts the most now is sober thinking about how new gains from 2018 can become our collective liberation.
He therefore charged Deltans that as the New Year begins, “let us enter 2018 with a mindset of overcoming extremes which directly attack the idea of self-service and creates a parasitic relationship between people who are active in politics and government. The nature of this relationship, deliberately or inadvertently, focuses politicians on goals that take away from the Common Good and the things that bring progress to a people. We should therefore seek the face of the creator to enable us break these boundaries in 2018.”
“Our cross-over prayer tonight is for God to give us a new Delta of people who care for another and are ready to work for the greater good of our children. Instead of petty bickering, let us think of thoughtful ways of creating jobs and opportunities for our young people.”
Reflecting on development trends in the world today, and to lay emphasis on the fact that the opportunities in Delta State are time-bound, especially as oil is not infinite, he stated that, “the world is entering the 4th Industrial revolution; if we miss this window then we, our children, and their children, may be ‘slaves’ for a thousand years. God forbid that should happen, but God is counting on you and I to stop such through a mindset change.”
And by considering the strategic advantages of the state, he posited that, “A Delta State that becomes the gateway to the Nigerian economy is possible. Together we can make it happen across these boundaries”, the statement concluded.