By Akpos Oghenetega
It was a night of class and glitz. The crowd at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre, Lagos ranged from Governors, Senators, Ministers, Bankers, clerics and top politicians, captain of Industries and members of the diplomatic community. The beauty and glamour of the night was further enhanced by the scintillating and enchanting colour specially reserved for the occasion. It was all blue, both the carpet, canvass, many of the seats, the sparkling lights which illuminated the auditorium, all spotting the glory of the blue sky. Men and women, the high and mighty, the shakers and movers of the society, people of no mean repute, political heavyweights of all class and persuasions converge on Eko Hotel from all parts of the country and beyond to honour those whose life and activities have affected the world for good. The event was the Silverbird TV Man of the Year 2016 Award Night with award recipients decorated with varying garlands or robes of honour. One of the recipients who mounted the podium to be so decorated on the said occasion was our own cerebral man of letters and University don, Prof Patrick Okedinachi Utomi, a man who was voted one of the top 10 Nigerian Living Legends in the Vanguard Newspaper/Silver Bird Television poll in 2009. On this special occasion, Pat Utomi’s collection increased with the Silverbird Lifetime Achievement Award.
Pat Utomi’s achievements in different endeavours in life cut him out as a man of extra-ordinary means, endowments and inscrutable carriage. Clocking 60 on February 6, 2017, Utomi became one of Nigeria’s top managers in Manufacturing before his 33rd birthday, he became a Presidential Adviser at 27 during the administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari; earned two Master Degrees and a PhD at 26, and Professorship and global acknowledgement as a leading scholar in Business, Political Economy and Media Studies in his forties. His first publication in a refereed international journal appeared in 1981 in a European Journal, Gazette. He is a man who has contested for the highest political office in Nigeria in 2007 and 2011 and was perhaps the first candidate for President in Nigeria to be formally endorsed by such renowned scholars as the Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka and Prof Sam Aluko among others.
He is a fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria and founding Senior Faculty of the Lagos Business School -Pan Atlantic University, he was Director of The Centre for Applied Economics at the Lagos Business School. He has served as Chief Operating Officer for Volkswagen of Nigeria. He is the author of several Management and Public Policy books including the Award Winning Managing Uncertainty: Competition and Strategy in Emerging Economies, 1998 and the 2006 book Why Nations are Poor. His academic background covers a range from Policy Economics, Business Administration, and Political Science to Mass Communication. As an entrepreneur he has founded or co-founded companies that are active in fields including financial services, ICT, Media and Agriculture.
Appointed Professor of Social and Political Economy Environment of Business, the pioneer Entrepreneurship teacher at LBS has been a scholar-in-residence at the prestigious Harvard Business School and the American University in Washington DC. As leader of Civil Society, he is the founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership; The Widow Support Centre and the Concerned Professionals, which was bulwark against-military oppression, among numerous other social enterprise initiatives.
He has served on the key apex private sector associations, including the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, The National Council of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA). He is active on the International speaking circuit, especially on the subjects of Growth Economics, Comparative Development Economics, Leadership, the Curse of Oil and China’s Economic surge and growing influence in Africa.
He has collaborated fairly frequently with the center for strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington and Chatham House in the UK. He has also written commissioned papers for the UK’s DFID including collaboration with Colleagues from Oxford on the Political Economy of growth in Nigeria. He is a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
He has studied and written about the Political economy of growth in Latin America and Asia, particularly Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India and Hong Kong, countries in which he is much traveled.
Honored by so many Professional bodies as a distinguished fellow (including Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, the Institute of Directors (Nigeria) Institute of Strategic Management, Academy of Entrepreneurship Studies, and inducted into the Junior Achievement (Nigeria) Hall of Fame; and by the Senate of the University of Nigeria and Alumni of UNN ( ALOHA – A Lion of High Achievement) with a collection of more than 700 plaques that mark a life of service. He has been awarded the Honorary Doctor of Business Administration (DBA Honoris Causa) by the University of Nigeria in 2012. He was recently, along with such legends as Mr. Akintola Williams, Dr. Micheal and Dr. Christopher Kolade, honored by the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) in the only such recognition in two decades. He was also celebrated by the Delta State Government as it marked 20 years of Delta as one of the top 50 Deltans in history, and also named among Igbo global best 50 of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
As a Business Angel he has helped found such companies as Linkserve (Nigeria’s first Internet Service Provider), Socketworks (Pioneer e-government systems developer in Nigeria), and Business Day (Nigeria’s first daily business newspaper). He created the iconic Lagos Business School monthly executive briefing breakfast and hosted it for its first 10 years, and inspired the founding of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Studies of LBS (now EDC) after a 1996 visit to the Sole C Snyder Centre at Wharton, in Philadelphia. His other books include Critical Perspectives in Political Economy and Management; To Serve is to Live; Business Angel as a Missionary, and four other books that are collections of his published opinions. He has written dozens of chapters in edited volumes. Conversations with him have also been published in books of interviews with Utomi. He has passionately pursued the building of a viable opposition political party in Nigeria and transparent, accountable government. He is today a stalwart of the ruling All Progressives Congress. He is a man of faith and family who is widely traveled through all the continents of the world. He has visited more than eighty countries.
From the brief on his life and attainments, there is no denying the fact that Pat Utomi belongs in the class of Nigeria’s very bests. He is an asset of invaluable candour to Delta State and Nigeria at large. He is one of the finest specie of political leaders in Nigeria with a humility that defies simple logic. Utomi has through his academic proficiency cultivated a world of graduates who are doing excellently well in various shades of human endeavours. His contribution to shaping the economic policies of government of nations all over the world is a testimony to his innate endowments. He is such a huge assets to Nigeria that one can safely conclude that it is a rare privilege to have a man of his academic and business proficiency take time off to offer his invaluable experiences to serve his people by taking governance to greater heights through practical involvements, which he began at age 27 as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council.
Prof. Pat Utomi, the enigmatic quintessence of political and business integrity, who hails from Ibussa in Oshimili North Local Government of Delta State, is married with children who are top flyers in different realms of man’s endeavour. He is a man to watch out for to help chart a new and more rewarding course of direction for Nigeria and Delta State. He has all it takes to bring changes to our economic and political life for the good of mankind.
By Justice Iyasere