Stepping down for Peter Obi was the right choice- Pat Utomi
Patrick Utomi, a professor of political economics and member of the Labour Party (LP), has said that his decision to step down for Peter Obi as the presidential candidate of the party was a choice he believed would save Nigeria from economic disaster come 2023.
Utomi expressed this viewpoint on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme hosted by Seun Okinbaloye on Tuesday night. He was responding to a question from Seun about what informed his decision to step down.
“I expected this to happen. It was not a wide choice, it was a deliberate thing,” he said.
“Just think of my politics. Look at Nigeria’s history and look at the role I have played. Ethnicity has never been a part of my politics.” he added.
“Yes, I came into public view in a broader sense during the Shagari administration, but one of the things that drew me into public consciousness was the June 12 crisis,” he said, emphasising the point that his choice to step down for Obi was the right choice despite opposition from some party leaders.
He believed like most Nigerians, that focusing on experience and ability to deal with the mountain of problems that the country is faced with demands competence regardless of ethnic affiliation.
“I mean, I am not a Yoruba man, but I learned the charge in many ways during that great struggle in Nigeria. It is because there is a practical sense in my politics for what is right, what is fair, and what advances the common good of all,” he added, making reference to events that happened in the past that shaped his political ideologies.
“In looking at the way political parties are structured, and again, I am a social scientist by education and by passion. Understanding in a systematic way – man in society is my calling. ”
“I have been close to the founding of political parties. I was around since I was very close to Alex Ekwueme. As concerned professionals, we decided not to go into politics in 1998, but I was around with Ekwueme at meetings, so I was there at the founding of the PDP. I was there at their founding and found out that the PDP was not going to take Nigeria where it should go. ”
“I was there at the founding of the APC and then I saw that it was a disaster in the making,” he continued with his view on how disappointed he is with the two major political parties in the country. Unfortunately, according to DMO, the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio for the first quarter of 2022 rose to 23.27 percent, a situation made worse by the major political parties’ reckless economic policies.
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“Then I began to ask myself why? What is going on? And my social scientist brain in examining things came to a simple conclusion—you know, in structured economics, there is a paradigm called the Structured Conduct Performance Paradigm (SCPP),” he added.
By that theory of SCPP, he was referring to a situation where players in an industry or economic setting are affected by a common value system, and that value or belief system can either make or mar the collective outcome of the group. According to him, “structure there is an industry or whatever usually affects the conduct of the behaviour of the players within that space, their values, everything. Depending on how strong or weak their institutions are, the results became clear to me that the nature of the structure of the APC and the PDP was such that it was about transactions.”
“You give, I take” and it was all really about self. No ability to throw up leadership that sees Nigeria where it is going and what to deliver Nigeria in that direction. It is about who shares what and who gets what. That’s when production fell off the shelf and got substituted with sharing.” He stated how the leading political parties have engaged in nothing short of money trading that only seeks to enrich themselves to the detriment of the common man.
He went on, “Sharing became so obsessive that many who were sharing did not realise that they were reducing their own possibility in the sharing. Because no country has grown rich from sharing,
“All have grown rich from production. And I go back through history and look at the experience of Spain when the conquistadors were shipping back gold from Latin America and all that and the people of Spain were sharing it.”
He supported his point with a historical fact about how, in the eighteenth century, a once rich country—Spain—engaged in wasteful consumption rather than investing its acquired wealth in production, only to suffer later, while poorer countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland at the time became richer due to their correct decisions. “In the end, Spain became a much poorer country than the Netherlands.”
Utomi believed that Obi’s focus on production is a clear case of learning from the country’s past and what happened to Spain during the periods of the conquistadors.
Utomi also believed that his ideology aligns with that of Obi and his running mate, Baba-Ahmed, which made it easy for him to step down for them. His distaste for massive squandering and stealing of the national wealth by the two major parties informed his decision to drive his support for not only the LP’s chosen candidates but canvass for votes across the spectrum.
“The nature of the APC and the PDP is about sharing, and that guarantees that Nigeria will fail as a country,” he stressed.
“Nigeria was a producing country in the 50s and 60s. The structure of Nigeria’s federal arrangement in the 50s and early 60s led to what American political scientists—Howard Melson and Howard Woby referred to as “a state of national and ethnic communities struggling for who would most bring progress to their people.”
“These kinds of competitive communalism, as they call it, lead to brute force.”
“So Obafemi Awolowo started the industrial estate in Ikeja, Okpara, followed with Aba, Port Harcourt, with Trans Amadi, and the Saudarna, followed with Kakuri in Kaduna. That kind of competitive spirit drove the ascendency of production. ”
“When military rule came, soldiers and oil came together and led to a new culture of transaction called “My Share,” which Richard Joseph called “bureaucratic prebendalism.”
“When the constitution became leeway, production fell off.”
“So by the time we got to the new civilian regime of 99, it was a strong part of the culture. I was clear in my head that the only way we can make progress is to break this, and disrupt it. That is why I began to work on the idea of a third force,” he concluded.