Friday, April 27, 2007

From The Road To Serfdom To The Lanes Of Liberation

>Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate, presents Prof. Pat Utomi as the presidential candidate of his party, Africa Renaissance Party (ARP)

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As we reflect on dozens of lives lost in protest of election rigging, billions of Naira expended on campaigns even as many of our compatriots are dehumanized by dreadful poverty, it is important to extend gratitude, and commit afresh to the struggle on the long road to freedom for Nigeria.

When about a year ago I gave up all income, stepped down from boards and committed to seeking votes for the presidency many thought it was a three month quest to prove a point. It turned out to be a grueling venture that involved at least three near death experiences, thousands of miles of road and air travel and a discovery of a country I thought I knew well.

I learnt a long time a go that I grow from acknowledging that I have made mistakes in the past. Traversing this country deepened my recognition that I could do many things that I had done in the past differently. This Return on Experience (ROE) was more valuable than any investments I had ever made. For this immeasurable gain I will never be able to say thank you enough.

I set out to run a campaign on issues, avoid casting aspersions that take away from the dignity of any person. I am pleased that I was significantly able to stay the chosen course. But this happened with the help of friends, staff persons and men of goodwill at home and in the Diaspora. My debt of gratitude can only be paid through continuous sacrificial service to Nigerians, especially those less fortunate than I.

To say that politics, especially in the kind of presidential system we run, cost a lot of money, is to state the obvious. While we push for reform that should place a cap that is measurable on campaign finance, I want to thank immensely friends and well wishers who sent generous cheques, particularly the poor woman who truly gave a widow’s mite of N500. I know it is more generous than the N5, 000,000 cheques from some more endowed compatriots.

Crisscrossing Nigeria put my conscience to the test regarding what must be done to rescue our country. After some challenging reflections I have had to conclude that the rest of my life will have to be dedicated to directing Nigeria away from the road to serfdom that we currently travel unto navigating the lanes to liberation.

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The core purpose of the ADC is to engineer a social and economic revolution that will bring about a transformation of the Nigerian condition by growing wealth at the bottom of the pyramid and shaping values that will make progress sustainable. We have called this the Green and White revolution taking us from Pain and Poverty to Peace and Prosperity.

Public service culture will have to shift to one in which the public servant is a champion who is passionate about top performance and driven by patriotic zeal of self giving for the advance of the common good. Disposition to transparency over the culture of secrecy in the public service and of vertical accountability in which key stakeholder groups monitor and hold government accountable is to be institutionalized. This culture will require critical path analysis of budget implementation processes to be discussed with stakeholder groups, made public, and then reviewed in open town hall meetings on a monthly basis.

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ADC Presidential candidate Prof. Pat Utomi expresses concern and surprise at the serious health situation of his PDP counterpart, Umaru Musa Yar ‘adua, which resulted in his being flown abroad for medical care after collapsing on the campaign trail.

Prof. Utomi wishes him speedy recovery. Utomi hopes hat he will quickly recover from the potentially life threatening condition, and return to give full value to the electioneering process.

In regret at the poor state of our healthcare which made it necessary for Yar ‘adua to be flown abroad, Prof. Utomi says “while the elite can afford to avoid the consequence of a failure in leadership, such as seeking aid at foreign hospitals, those we aspire to lead must each day endure the consequences of incompetence and corruption of the governing elite”.

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Nigerians, just a simple plea, put me beside them. Put the commitment I have shown throughout my life to service. Put the ones they’ve shown throughout their lives to public service. Put my competence in terms of education and all of that in front of them. Put the ones they have shown. Put down my team spirit, put down theirs and compare it. Put my character and their values down. If you put all of this one against the other and theirs appears higher than mine, please, vote for them. But if mine is higher than theirs, do your conscience a duty.

I say for me, my primary goal in getting involved is to help build a visible political opposition. So, we started out wanting on the one hand to build something that is new and therefore able to allow you certain values at least. ADC provided that platform for a new organisation where you can bring in the right people, where you can establish the fundamental values of service to the Nigerian people, fundamental values of ethical conduct in government, fundamental values of accountability in the Nigerian people. The people must matter.

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What do you think of the attempt by President Olusegun Obasanjo to sack Vice President Atiku Abubakar for defecting to AC?

The easy way to deal with this matter is to say that it is a constitutional, a legal issue. Let’s get the court and the National Assembly to sort it out. But the truth is that I feel so sorry for a Presidency that does not think about history. It thinks only of its own immediate, arbitrary view of anything to suit it. It is a tragedy for Nigeria. This is what we have. I expect that it would play itself out. I find it remarkable though that for a General like Obasanjo, who ordinarily prides himself as a great strategist, an ordinary Customs man has been one step ahead of him throughout this whole game; always one step ahead of him. If I were he, I would be quite ashamed of myself.

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Professor Pat Utomi needs no introduction. He has been known for several years as a political economist, journalist, public affairs commentator and businessman. He cut his teeth in politics as Special Assistant to the President in the Second Republic. He later became the acting Managing Director of Volkswagen Nigeria Limited. He was also Chairman of Platinum Bank prior to its merger with the former Habib Bank to form what is now Bank PHB. Utomi is Director of the Lagos Business School and presidential candidate of African Democratic Congress (ADC), one of the newly registered political parties.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet our very own Prof... Pat 'the Great' Utomi, as we very fondly call him... erudite scholar and gentleman extraordinaire

Come and get introduced