As with “My Command” his civil war memoirs, Army General Olusegun Obasanjo who served as Head of the Nigerian state in uniform, and years later, in mufti (agbada), has managed to get many hopping mad with his new memoirs reflecting on political life. He seems determined that whether you love him or hate him, you could not ignore him.

Let us forget for a second that he is an attention-junkie and that he is judgmental about others in a way that bothers on the indecent, the question his new excursion into memoirs writing raises for me is whether there are points in what he is saying we can ignore only at our own peril.

This is important because with the Obasanjo nature it is easy to get so taken by the messenger that the message is forgotten. This course of action is made easier by Obasanjo’s evident split personality which makes’ it easy to say of him, “look the kettle is calling the pot black”.

Take corruption for example. No one is in doubt that corruption was widespread when Obasanjo was president and that there is ample evidence or perception of his use of corrupt means to either secure the impeachment of an unfavoured Senate president or seek a change in constitution to allow him a third term. But is Obasanjo wrong to say corruption is on the increase?

Many businessmen I interact with say corruption, described in the Hope and Chukulo book on corruption and Development in Africa, as systemic in Nigeria; compared to widespread in Ghana and, rare, in Botswana, has truly reached a point of shameless “legitimization’’ in these times. I sat once with a fairly depressed lawyer who described a sad meeting he had just come out of with a minister and some American Businessmen.

The minister had promised to write a simple letter which would have facilitated commitment to an investment initiative. He dictated the letter in their presence. For weeks they went to the minister’s office to pick up the letter but were unsuccessful. On the day in question the lawyer returned to the minister. They were warmly welcomed. The issue was raised and the minister after a while simply asked the lawyer if he was not able to read the tea leaves. He needed his bribe. Lawyer tells minister he cannot advice his clients to do that as they would be liable to a jail term back in their home country for that. All attempts to sell the upside for the country and even personally to the minister got strong push back from the Minister who said such talk was the reason some of his predecessors were languishing in poverty. He wanted his return upfront, not in nominating partners down the value chain.

Bottom line is corruption has had a more crippling effect on economic life today than a few years ago when things were considered quite bad. Inspite of a climb in the transparency index, where Nigeria is up two notches, the consensus is corruption is more rampant now. That is what President Obasanjo was speaking up on and most would agree on that.

Under Obasanjo, a high powered team was empanelled by the Presidency to study and propose a structure for the institutions of transparency and accountability in government. The team included a Deputy Inspector General of Police, Heads of Transparency in Nigeria, Convention on Business Integrity, past president of NACCIMA, Dr. Ngozi Okeke, Prof Asisi Asebie of ASUU and even, a representative of Transparency International from London Neville Linton I was privileged to chair that committee managed by Ambassador Emeka Azikiwe then SA to the President. Little was seen of the report after it went to General Obasanjo yet the truth is that impunity did not harm transparency as much then, as it now seems to.

Another issue General Obasanjo raised in his book in criticism of Jonathan was the attitude of the incumbent, and their Party, The PDP, to criticism. He lashed out in his reflections at a PDP and presidency that sponsors discredited people to smear honest critics, saying a democracy is nothing without critics.

He is quite right in that criticism. The amusing thing for me, as one who has experienced this reaction, from both parties, is that Obasanjo here well describes both now and the time of his watch with those lines.

I had the pleasure of being part, indeed head, of the policy advisory team that worked with candidate Obasanjo in 1998. As President he lapped up all kinds of gossips stemming from my critical views on matters. This is how I had previously come face to face with why it is easy to push back on Obasanjo without listening to him, an irony, because he has poor listening skills, like he never heard of Stephen R Covey, and seek first to understand then to be understood.

Remarkably when by October 1999 there was the view widely held that the Obasanjo government lacked policy direction Gen. Obasanjo invited me to a dinner with his top team including his Vice- President Atiku Abubakar, Finance Minister Adamu Ciroma, Chief Economic Adviser Izoma Philip Asiodu and Secretary to the Government Ufot Ekaete. There he advertised I had worked with him on policy and asked that Professors Dotun Phillips, Ibrahim Ayagi and I join Chief Asiodu to produce an economic policy blueprint that could be carried around like, in his words, “Gaddafi’s green book”.

Having worked closely with him as chair of policy advisory group that met daily with candidate Obasanjo I had come to both respect and feel pity for a man who was obviously his own worst enemy that I was careful just to make my quiet contribution and move on.

On more than one occasion people like the late Waziri, Mohammed and Oby Ezekwesili asked about my membership of AD and my closeness to then Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu which seemed to upset General Obasanjo. I was never a member of AD and my working relationship the Lagos Governor was a citizen duty. They all concluded too many people were carrying gossips to him and he was getting sucked in, Even if I was AD what business of Obasanjo’s would that be?

When the private sector nominated me as lead person from the sector for national honour I asked them not to bother because I knew how Obasanjo dropped Prof Ibrahim Gambari from the National honours list on petty gossips before some pleaded with him the next year. Was not surprised he did same with me which gave me a chance to tease Sir Remi Omotosho, then Lagos Chamber of commerce Director-General who spent much time trying to persuade me to sign off on the nomination as I argued that I was uncomfortable about signing off on accepting an honour.

Obasanjo is not wrong in his accusing Jonathan on the quality of people around him gossiping. The irony is he is guilty of same.
Another accusation in the book was of killer squads from the Presidency. Being a targeted survivor of the Abacha Killer Squad, that accusation was hair – raising for me. I hope it proves to be incorrect or unfounded, if not, the road feared, which leads to Somalia, may be beckoning. Knowing the chill from reading state security files on how I escaped being target of shooting practice by the Sgt Rogers squad makes me feel for those who could be current targets.

On the insurgency in the North East I think the alert was important, but the key is in keeping so dangerous a challenge to the sovereignty of the country above personal quarrels and partisan quibbles.

The burden of history is on the older man on this issue. The direction of the crises was long foretold. Had President Obasanjo recognized that errors of Judgment on his watch when insipient extremist adherents began to get training in North Africa is the reason it went so bad, he should have taken a different approach. He should have sought to build bi- partisan support as an elder statesman to confront the nascent insurgency. Blaming the incumbent for the mishandling the North East insurgency has valid basis in their early lethargy but with his experience he should have sought to rally the country in a bipartisan war cry, perhaps bringing the concert of former heads of state into it.

The real burden of history on General Obasanjo is that his duty as statesman is being vitiated by a tradition of lack of charity in dealing with others, which today makes it easy for people who should recognize truth when it comes from him, dismissing him as acting in-character without charity. Few men in Nigeria have been given easy passage to immortality by circumstances as Gen Obasanjo. His lack of charity manages to be a tragic flaw that seems determined to consign him to a sad footnote in history. Still this does not mean his voice should be ignored. In his moments he speaks great truth to power and he understands Nigeria better than most. He should not be ignored.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.


NIGERIA’s LEARNING PROBLEMA number of things struck me in the last week. They include reports of a survey of US CEO’s; another on Africa’s best and worst airports; and reflections on Nigeria’s collapsing institutions, from the prisons service, to policing, the judiciary and electoral process. What could they have in common- plenty.
It’s about learning and action. The survey of American CEO’s suggests that most think travel and exposure is critical for their effectiveness. If that is true for all peoples, then surely, the fact that foreign airlines’ First Class Cabins are full of government officials travelling around the planet must mean we get a lot of learning. For some reason it does not seem to be translating into consequence of positive value for our front.
Is it that we are learning and not doing that which we have learnt. Or could it be that we close our eyes and block our ears as we travel abroad?
Recently the Lagos Business School had its annual alumni conference and the keynote speaker was the Chief Executive of the South Centre in Geneva. A Malaysian who still carries the dream from President Julius Nyerere’s time when the South Commission desired a Think Thank for the Third World could not resist exclaiming to the LBS Alumnus who welcomed him at the airport, as they journeyed to his Victoria Island Hotel: where is the oil money.
He was shocked at the poor infrastructure of the new improved Lagos. Imagine how he would have felt if he saw the old Lagos. So how come are widely travelled political actors and senior bureaucrats who seem to go on training only when it is abroad, have not seen enough to feel shame and be determined to turn things in the direction of those experiences.
Some years ago two Harvard Professors Sutton and Pfeiffer wrote a book about the Knowing – Doing Gap. They probably should have been told that the ultimate Laboratory for people who know but sometimes fail to implement what they know is public life in Nigeria. That failing has today come to frightening proportions in the afflictions of these times.
Take the state of Nigeria’s Institutions and the actions of those who lead Nigeria, as example. The work of many historians, especially writers of economic history and quite a number of political scientists have come to show that institutions are key to human material advance just as others argue that values shape human progress. But it is quite evident that Nigeria has witnessed a collapse of culture and its institutions are in crisis. But very few Nigerians seem to think of their role, as citizens, or in the consequences they place on actions of politicians as related to institutions and institution building, even though institutions as the cornerstone of human progress, has emerged in scholarship, as the dominant paradigm. Whether it be from political science, with Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, writing in Why Nations Fail; or sociological imagination as in Jared Diamond in Collapse or from historians like Niall Ferguson in Civilization. The West and the Rest; or in Economics and Finance as with Hernando De Soto in The Mystery of Capital and Douglas North on Institutions Institutional Change and Economic Preference in Institutional Economics, there is convergence that institutions matter. Even from praxis, Barak Obama’s famous first speech in Africa as US President in Accra, reminds us that what Africa needs is ‘’strong institutions, not strong men’’. But look at our Institutions.
We are in law and order crisis with Insurgency in the North East and much violence elsewhere but what is the state of our Law and Order Institutions. The Police Force is a national embarrassment. Beyond being used as they were in the Tambuwal case, the state of graft and effectiveness in solving crime cases including the Murder of the Chief Law officer of the Land, Attorney-General Bola Ige, and even hundreds of their own men in Benue state belie logic, there appears to be a breakdown of discipline and capacity.
The judiciary, once upon a time last hope of the citizen, is now the butt of jokes. Judges get beaten up in broad daylight and Abuja does not realize that quick and appropriate response is more important than building new roads. What of the Army. They do not trust the police who should move in after they have swept insurgents out because their Attack plan is often leaked when they tell the police. In the end they are not as effective as they could be. Foreign commentators have said much that is not salutary about the state of an army that was on the pride of peacekeeping around the world. What about the prisons where you keep those you apprehend. Jailbreaks are almost weekly and those inside are not in corrections institutions, nor are prisons a place to gather intelligence to contain the infractions that disturbed society and brought the offenders to gaol.
If our institutions are in free fall, Culture in Collapse and the economy turning towards, how come the politicians are not discussing issues? Because the electoral process is broken and not about ideas on how to better order society but on how war lords take territory. The way the politics of 2015 is going, the civilian regime may fully lose its legitimacy by end of February. If we are about war lords, then surely we have a knowing – doing gap, as a Liberian Ambassador said to me in 1991 during the civil war in Liberia. How come, he asked, you Nigerians are pouring out Nigerian Blood and spending so much money to save us but you seem unwilling to learn from what got us where we are? The Ambassador who was a colleague in Graduate School in the US never stopped marveling at our inability to learn.
This learning inability has reached a point where most clear minded people think we need to prevent elections in 2015 if we are to avert anarchy. Should it be so.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist, and Professor of entrepreneurship is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.


shepherdIt is not news anymore that Nigeria is in multiple crises. From the crises of sovereignty and territorial integrity, to the collapse of culture. There comes also, very clearly the crisis of leadership. If you doubt it check out the Obasanjo and Jonathan cross evaluations. Nigeria needs leaders but they seem to be no where in sight.

At a time like this it may be profitable to discuss one of the leadership styles Nigeria may desperately need today. The leader as a shepherd.
In the urban experience of the 21st century the image of the shepherd is a distant esoteric one. In the Bible times in Israel or from nomadic Fulanis who rear most of the beef consumed in West Africa, the shepherd is ubiquitous, and the glue that holds, not only the food chain, but of the social order in many communities.
The attributes of the shepherd are in many ways summarized in the characterization of the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. The shepherd is the gate to the Sheepfold. The sheep recognizes his voice and trust in him for their safety, their protection from wolves and their rustlers. The Fulani shepherd lead the path of the long trek across a vast sub-continent and the meek sheep follows, assured in the path he threads.
The shepherd not only fulfills the role of having knowledge of where to go, the shepherd cares and takes the interest of the sheep so to heart that the sheep is freed from bothering for their wants, which are anticipated and taken care of by the shepherd.
The benefit of the shepherd leadership style is that the led are so trusting in the motives and capacity of the leader that they are submissive and surrender to the directing of the leader in a manner that dramatically reduces the cost of mobilizing for the synergies to achieve the yesterday’s impossible. Charismatic leaders who draw unquestioning followers because of trust in the motives and capacity perceived as uncommon, tend to be classic shepherd leaders.
Very charismatic religious leaders tend to display this leadership disposition and attribute.
Sheep, Christian scriptures reminds, have tendency to scatter without a shepherd (Matt 26.31). An interpretation of the philosophy of government in which a Leviathan was sought so that the brutish state of nature, in Thomas Hobbes terms, would be overcome, was in essence finding a leader, a shepherd, who will gather in the scattered reign of man under purpose of the common good. Leadership was really about the simple and paradoxical logic which continues to elude many today; that the individual good, self-interest, is enhanced in the advance of the common good of all.
For hundreds of years the Nobility in Europe thrived while misery was the basic currency of humanity. Then came the beginning of the universal sense of human freedom, given great play with the Magna Carta, and the peace of Westphalia put context to it. This was followed by the industrial revolution, in the James Watts redesign of steam engine which powered production of goods, made more available to the masses by the coming of the moving assembly line and mass production thereof. Man has since needed agents to make synergy take its goal directed effort much further.
The making of these agents we call leaders and their take has been influenced by attributes and the cost of action.
Some attributes of these leaders have differential costs for goal attainment. Some, like Hitler, have used power and propaganda to pull people together in pursuit of goals many of the followers did not share but were compelled to go along with. Some, like the author of some of the leading text on leadership from the political science discipline, James McGregor Burns reject the Hitler phenomenon in the consideration of what constitutes leadership. In the main, Hitler’s ‘leading’ was extremely costly path. In direct contrast, the shepherd deploys some of the dedication of the followers in pursuit of goals. Religious leaders and leaders of great social movements such as Mahatma Ghandi, Pope Francis, Nigerian leader of the Pentecostal church; The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, and the Indian founder of the Art of Living Foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are typical examples. Few verses in published literature better summarize the leader as shepherd than Psalm 23.
The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall not want
He makes me to lie down in green pasture
He leads me besides the still waters
He restores my soul
He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies
Thou anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over
Surely, good and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever

The imagery of the shepherd as leader, along the lines of the promise of psalm 23 is that the leader is a provider or shows the road to great provision.

The leadership style is often more suited to movements in times and climes of limited education amongst the majority of the followership and a concentration of wisdom in the leader.
The case of Mahatma Gandhi in India, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Turkey and Martin Luther King Jnr in the civil rights movement in the United States, Mother Theresa in India and to some extent, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, show the efficacy of this style where there is a significant knowledge gap but strong emotional bond between the leader and the led.
The grave danger is that it can be subject to abuse as was the case of the religious leader Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana and the Branch Davidians in Texas where the followers accepted orders to commit mass suicide as the authorities closed in on them.
The shepherd, as images from the Bible show, clearly is the caring, protective watchperson over perceive, vulnerable flock the key test is the level of the sacrifice required of the shepherd to ensure that the flock is safe and taken care of. This contrasts very much with the servant leader who seems to empower the follower to optimize on their talent in that the flock seem devoid of talent to add value beyond being of value intrinsically.

This model of leadership is practically valuable where the followership is illiterate and made very vulnerable by poverty and limited exposure to the possibilities of the human spirit. Like the peasant farmer in Tawney’s Metaphor so deep in water that a ripple could drown him as the peasant does not have enough inside yet to be inspired to push towards a new order that is even in his own interest. The Nigerian voter who gets less than two United States dollars to cast a vote for a scoundrel who will keep him in bondage instead of the opponent who could create opportunities that liberate from abject poverty, is of this genre. In some ways leaders like Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew and Nelson Mandela are cut out of this tradition.

Isokarri Ololo has offered a perspective on this leadership regime. In the book: ‘The Shepherd Leader – The Unexplored Leadership Style’, he says of the shepherd leader that he has two tools, the rod and the staff. “The rod represents sanction and the staff represents influence”. Those two tools mustered together should produce comfort which appears to me to be the overarching reason for leadership.

As educated and uneducated Nigerians watch a narcissistic political class pillage the commonwealth, and continue to look on helplessly, it is clear that a low-self-efficacy problem is high and the shepherd leader need very high.

Nigeria in many ways needs a Shepherd leader like Mahathir Mohammed or Lee kwan Yew but a self-serving class seems to hold society hostage.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.


One of the pieces of baggage of colonization is that colonized people tend to think of their culture as inferior. In calculating elements that contribute to economic growth, improved trade and enhanced quality of life for the people they thus seldom see elements of their culture as assets.

It was understandable therefore that in the 1960’s and 70s foreign music, foreign films and fashion, and food from far away, dominated our world of style and entertainment. When the GDP rebasing exercise in Nigeria was completed earlier this year new insight into the composition of output per person in Nigeria confirmed that sectors based on selling culture, symbolized by the motion picture in industry, Nollywood, became a significant source of value creation in the economy.

I felt personally vindicated by the new status for an industry that emerged with hardly any support from policy making at the top. I had argued for nearly 20 years that packaging and marketing culture was a critical area of Nigeria’s global competiveness. As Nollywood emerged from out of work television crews and actors into a film industry that had captured the imagination across the continents I began a support effort that included free workshops and seminars at the Lagos Business School for the industry and evangelizing the need to rethink the distribution business model for Nollywood.

I would become more excited with developments in the export of Nigerian music. When Gbenga Sesan sent me a text a year ago from Tanzania expressing his amazement at the following of P Square there I could not but imagine when parties in my time were nearly 100 percent foreign music and today is almost the exact opposite I felt good about a remark I made two decades ago that selling culture could fetch Nigeria more income than crude oil.

Our style sections show how fashion is globalizing in Nigeria as Nollywood and Music stars open new paths. There is clearly now enough evidence of leadership in economic performance that can be emulated by other sectors, in the culture industry.

At CVL, therefore, the culture industry had to follow ICT as a sector emerging from the shadows to become an exemplar. We are therefore proud to celebrate those who have shaped the character of this sector. From the pioneers and early adaptors like Eddie Ugboma in film, to one of the greatest political philosophers ever to use music as vehicle, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the celebration of the Entertainment industry at this CVL sector celebration is a reminder that the power of the spirit of enterprise writes the story of the triumph of the human spirit in economic life.

It is celebration time. And it is deserved by this self propelled sector which got no attention until lately. When the federal government set up a committee for a film fund during the tenures of Frank Nweke Jnr as Minister of information and Deji Adesanya as Managing Director of the film Fund, I was asked to be Chairman of the committee. The outcome was band aid compared to the needs, if we are to make a quantum leap on the possibilities.

In celebrating we hope others playing along the value chains of areas of our factor endowments can profit from the impact of the merchants of culture in music, film, fashion and food.

One of the pieces of baggage of colonization is that colonized people tend to think of their culture as inferior. In calculating elements that contribute to economic growth, improved trade and enhanced quality of life for the people they thus seldom see elements of their culture as assets.

It was understandable therefore that in the 1960’s and 70s foreign music, foreign films and fashion, and food from far away, dominated our world of style and entertainment. When the GDP rebasing exercise in Nigeria was completed earlier this year new insight into the composition of output per person in Nigeria confirmed that sectors based on selling culture, symbolized by the motion picture in industry, Nollywood, became a significant source of value creation in the economy.

I felt personally vindicated by the new status for an industry that emerged with hardly any support from policy making at the top. I had argued for nearly 20 years that packaging and marketing culture was a critical area of Nigeria’s global competiveness. As Nollywood emerged from out of work television crews and actors into a film industry that had captured the imagination across the continents I began a support effort that included free workshops and seminars at the Lagos Business School for the industry and evangelizing the need to rethink the distribution business model for Nollywood.

I would become more excited with developments in the export of Nigerian music. When Gbenga Sesan sent me a text a year ago from Tanzania expressing his amazement at the following of P Square there I could not but imagine when parties in my time were nearly 100 percent foreign music and today is almost the exact opposite I felt good about a remark I made two decades ago that selling culture could fetch Nigeria more income than crude oil.

Our style sections show how fashion is globalizing in Nigeria as Nollywood and Music stars open new paths. There is clearly now enough evidence of leadership in economic performance that can be emulated by other sectors, in the culture industry.

At CVL, therefore, the culture industry had to follow ICT as a sector emerging from the shadows to become an exemplar. We are therefore proud to celebrate those who have shaped the character of this sector. From the pioneers and early adaptors like Eddie Ugboma in film, to one of the greatest political philosophers ever to use music as vehicle, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the celebration of the Entertainment industry at this CVL sector celebration is a reminder that the power of the spirit of enterprise writes the story of the triumph of the human spirit in economic life.

It is celebration time. And it is deserved by this self propelled sector which got no attention until lately. When the federal government set up a committee for a film fund during the tenures of Frank Nweke Jnr as Minister of information and Deji Adesanya as Managing Director of the film Fund, I was asked to be Chairman of the committee. The outcome was band aid compared to the needs, if we are to make a quantum leap on the possibilities.

In celebrating we hope others playing along the value chains of areas of our factor endowments can profit from the impact of the merchants of culture in music, film, fashion and food.


What makes for happiness in today’s Nigeria. My bet is it has to be ignorance. It is said to be bliss but if it were not bliss I could not imagine what else would make anybody able to read newspaper be disposed to smiling in Nigeria today. Let us take the headlines of a few of the newspapers before me as I put pen to paper.

‘Governors sabotaging Judiciary says CJN’ (Guardian 18. Nov). FG introduces austerity measures. Again, Female suicide bomber kills scores in Azare. (Vanguard Nov 17); Naira in free fall against dollar. (Vanguard Nov 19). In Extra-Constitution al Move, Ten members Takeover 26-man Ekiti Assembly (This Day 18 Nov). All these are front page banner headlines. For those who know more than the News Editors are willing to allow past their gates into the newspapers the reality goes with more foreboding. Where are we; how did we get here and what will this pregnant moment birth.

A few things are easy to see, about the journey to where we are; the gradual institutionalizing of impunity; the neglect of institutionalizing discipline in the management of the economy; and the failure to manage a small wound has become a deep sore in the insurgency that is increasing the loss of Nigeria’s sovereignty over significant territory and gathering despair among the poor and the weak in a country where the gap between the few well off and the many impoverished is widening and not possible to justify in the logic of contribution to the commonwealth. Can such a social order be justified and what is the realistic end game as the reign of impunity threatens the rule of law to its foundation and raises issues of regime legitimacy.

Let us begin with the threat to the judiciary. When the Chief Justice of the Federation, Mariam Aloma Mukhtar addressed the opening session of the 2014 conference of All Nigerian Judges of the lower courts in Abuja, she lamented that judges in the country where functioning in ‘’deplorable and unsecured conditions’’.

In the months leading up to the conference judges had been assaulted and beaten up in states such as Ekiti where a minority number of legislators have also convened, all in support of the goals of the ‘’sworn in’’ governor. In one of the most egregious molestations of the idea of separation in the doctrine of separation of powers, the Ekiti Judiciary and Legislature have been castrated. Seven of 26 representatives have elected a speaker and the so called Governor says that’s okay. How Nigerian leaders have the effrontery to call what we have here a democracy amazes me.

What gets to me more is how our political class cannot educate themselves to understand what they owe the future, and that institutions are the key to that future. At the heart of the building of institutions is the rule of law violated so shamelessly in not only the issues in Ekiti but also in courts locked up in states like Rivers, abuse of elections in such places as Delta in the last Local Government elections, creating the impression that politics is not about ideas or service but the domain of the crooked and the self-obsessed. It is in the hope that lessons can be learnt that I have continued to point to British Historian Niall Fergusons of the 1787 constitution of the United States of America as one of the most profound efforts at institution building in human history. Those institutions have helped America become one of the most prosperous nations ever created. Instead of recent experience shows our political class in some of the most disgraceful “de-institutionalizing’’ practices known in modern nation states. The current rape of our institutions may eventually be history’s biggest source of indictment for the PDP.

Then there is the free fall of the Naira and the panic in economic management because of an anticipated and long expected fall of oil prices. Almost all who have been to Abuja and interacted with leading policy makers speak of panic in the corridors of power on matters of the oil price decline and the failure of policy to be elastic enough to absorb minor shocks. I have been puzzled by the fact that all the scare has been about crude oil prices coming down not even to the so called budget benchmark price. Yet already many states are unable to pay monthly wages when due. This has to be evidence of widespread abuse of the integrity of budgeting and pointer to the massive corruption evidently at play in the deployment of resources for budget goals.

From the 1980s when Chief Omowole Kuye as budget director at the Federal level talked about self-adjusting budgets to proposals people like me made years ago about three revenue accounts; a Distributable pool Fund, otherwise known as FAC account today; a stabilization Fund, and a Future Fund; we are still so vulnerable to shifting prices in what was normally a very volatile oil price market until the rise of India and China lengthened the cycle.

The DPF I had proposed be funded from not more that 50dollars a barrel while all revenues between USD 50-80 go to a stabilization Fund to be drawn down if oil prices ever fall below the budget-benchmark. Every revenue over USD 80 would go to a future fund (The Sovereign Wealth fund). The bottom line in the panic is that it exposes the failure of planning in Nigeria.

What does not seem to have become clear to the leadership is that the reign of impunity has finally come to roost in the effects of financial recklessness playing out in panic on the economy on what should have been an easy adjustment, and the flow through of impunity in the rapid deterioration of the rule of law and the state of Nigeria’s institutions generally. These are major legacy issues. As bad, is the crisis of property rights. Beyond Hernando De Soto and the mystery of capital not being overcome by the trend of damaging institutions regulators use power to take over properties of others or prevent consummation of legal contracts because a predecessor approved of it, harming future investments prospects.

Remarkably just about all who have inflicted this damage, wittingly or unwittingly, are seeking to continue in office. The culture of resigning from office or not seeking re-election, even when we are not directly personally responsible for a wrong is helpful in the regeneration of governance systems. But here people for whose sake the country is so divided with threat of worse, want extension of their tenure, if possible beyond term limits.

Most of the big fear of 2015 which is not only affecting investments and the very legitimacy of the democratic process in Nigeria is because many in power do not realize that their decision to pass on this round could do both themselves, Nigeria, and how history treats these times, a world of good.

For the political class to be in song and dance campaigns, and effusive accolades poured out in newspapers to celebrate the birthday of a president when Nigeria’s sovereignty over vast territories is in question; innocents are dying from terror attacks; and poverty is savaging a majority of the people, is to give the impression that in us was found the generation Franz Fanon must have had in mind when he talks of the generation that discovered its mission and deliberately decided to betray it for in truth, every generation must discover its mission and choose to either fulfill or betray it.

Post script: As I was about post the foregoing, news came that the senate president David Mark had shut down the National Assembly. For more than 30minutes after I got the breaking news I watched on TVC an orderly session of the House of Representatives presided over by the speaker Aminu Tambuwal. Another breaking news coming at the same time suggested seven members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly had impeached the speaker. The total breakdown of the rule of law and the reign of impunity was proceeding at the same time as reckless spending of public resources and rent extracted resources on wrap around single adverts to congratulate the President on his birthday at costs higher than can provide good education for a whole Niger Delta town, made for much sadness about how we got here.

Our democracy had come unstuck. I heard House members on TV talking of rumblings in the barracks. Even if that was not true, such impunity at all levels of government by a ruling party as in Delta LG elections, Ekiti State Assembly and the National Assembly, is to say farewell democracy.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist, and Professor of Entrepreneurship is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.


If you have four speeches to give in four cities on three continents in five straight days it is not unusual to be anxious, regarding airlines. One delayed departure can make your commitments a nightmare.
In the week before, I had such a schedule and I was anxious. Eventually I suffered real trauma. But it was not from a delayed departure. All my flights took off on schedule indeed most of them actually pushed back a few minutes before departure time. And it was not from any of the other typical airline irritations that can become aggravated; like your bags heading from Europe to Latin America as you move towards your destination in Africa at more than five hundred miles an hour. On this trip, crammed with activity and many reasons to be sensitive to anything going wrong, nothing went wrong, yet I came away feeling much traumatized from the airlines doing nothing negative. The stiffness came from past experience.
As a business teacher I find it typical that some mantras about what makes for good business tend to be part of your repertoire. Seldom does this become a matter more than how you deliver superior performance over rivals. The above recent personal experience led me to a view I never thought much of, which is that bad customer service may actually traumatize customers to point that they can be affected medically.
You are in trouble when the logo of an airline makes you feel you are about to mess up your commitments just by the sight of the logo of an airline. If and when that happens to you your troubles may really be big even though logic should suggest the coming troubles of that airline may be bigger. As a business teacher, it also was, for me, a huge learning point about how little it takes to make a customer feel valued and how a customer that feels abused by a commercial enterprise can actually be so negatively impacted by experience it can affect their mental and physical well being in a way the bad enterprise may not realize could amount to some form of genocide if it seems the lot of a particular group of people.
My travels of the last week, which many around me would consider routine, in my experience, were similar to an experience two years ago that made me abandon this airline I found myself booked last week on by an international organization, even though I have meticulously tried to avoid it for two years.
Twenty two years before I had told myself something has to be wrong with you to ever be seen aboard this airline.
I had been a regular First Class passenger on this airline, as an execute in industry on a regular commute into Europe. In those days they had a practice of significantly overbooking the Lagos route. It was not unusual to come with a First class ticket and end up on an Economy seat. As the troubles for getting a refund were just so much, few people bothered to pursue the matter. After numerous occasions of experiencing this I decided it was a deliberate scam on the part of the airline. I did then what many customers believe is their only option, walk away. This was after a London Lagos flight of July 11 1991.
For nearly a decade I never stepped on board an aircraft operated by the airline. I had, as a marketing teacher friend of mine used to say, voted with my feet.
In one newspaper interview a question led me to remarking that I never fly that airline because of the experience I had. At the time they evidently had a General Manager in Lagos who scammed the environment and was told it was not a good idea to allow people live with such views, especially if those were people whose voices were heard. So he asked for an appointment to visit me at the Lagos Business School. He came with his team to persuade me that things were different and that they would like me to return to flying with them.
That visit, with no special offer, was enough to say to me that someone cared. Many times that all customers are looking for, a sense they have not been taken for granted. I promised I would resume flying British Airways.
As promise keeping is a key personal value, I progressively returned to that airline, to the chagrin of my friends at Lufthansa. That was until two years ago.
The structure of my movement that week in September 2012 involved a high profile lecture in Lagos on a Thursday, a class at the Lagos Business School that same day, a speech at Imperial College in London the following day Friday, alongside then National Planning Minister Shamsudeen Usman, a meeting of the Board of American University of Nigeria on Saturday in New Orleans, Louisiana in the US, a meeting on Monday morning in London and the opening keynote for the ICAN conference at 9am Tuesday morning in Abuja, a class at the Lagos Business School in Lagos on Wednesday and the next day the annual lecture of the Nigerians in the Square mile, (Financial Services) in London and a visit to the Film Village in Mumbai India on Saturday. I had to hope that everything went smoothly.
I did my Lagos duties, got into London, enjoyed the time with the imperial College students and Larry Izamoje whose daughter was in the executive of the association of Imperial College, and had used her father’s contact to reach out to me. As the session would run into the early evening I had to get on the very last possible flight across the Atlantic. The British Airways late flight to New York got me across, arriving close to midnight and I connected on one of the US airlines at 6am to New Orleans.
As my meetings ended on Sunday at Noon, I rushed off to the Airport with Alhaji Ahmed Joda and Akin Kekere-Ekun who were also bound for London via a Washington Dulles connection. The difference was they were booked on United, I was on British Airways. Both our flights were for about 10:30pm, the last flights across the Atlantic. On landing at Dulles I saw on the monitor that British Airways had cancelled their own flight.
Alarm bells went off in my head. My noon meeting in London and my connection into Abuja. I raced to the desk to request they transfer me to the United flight. They just kept trying to encourage me to go home and come back the following day to get on the next BA flight. I tried to explain about my afternoon meeting in London and my need to be in Abuja on Tuesday morning, good and ready before 8am. They pussy footed around till the United flight closed then they said to me United is departing now, that option is too late. I had never been more angry in my life. Just the slightest of consideration would have led to solutions. The flight was cancelled by them, not me. But that can happen. All kinds of reasons can cause that. Just good faith effort based on my own commitments could have made them get me on the United flight. When I insisted that even if I had to try and reschedule the London meeting I could not imagine not being at the ICAN opening, they suggested that if I got to New York I could get on the 7am flight which would bring me into London about 7pm and allow time to connect to Abuja.
It was nearly midnight at this time. So how do I get to New York. Sorry all flights are now gone say the BA officials, just find your way over land. And by the way, because the Dulles flight was cancelled you lost your seat to Abuja. It is a very tight situation, right now we have an economy seat for you but we are sure we will get something done before you arrive London. So I call a taxi driver. He could drive me to New York for 650 US dollars. I could not afford to disappoint the ICAN people so I took off on a 5hour all night ‘’vigil’’ drive to New York. Got on the flight and arrived London. In London Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and the contingent from the World Bank annual meeting in Tokyo were connecting to Abuja. That meant any premium class seat bumped, even if it was BA’s fault, was bumped. I asked for my seat properly booked and confirmed and a nice polite gentleman kept saying he was trying to do something until boarding was announced and he apologized, promising customer service would get in touch with me as soon as I arrived Nigeria. Not heard from BA customer service to this day. Not even with prodding of a letter of protest.
I returned to London two days later on the same airline and went on to Mumbai on Friday on the same airline. Complained to anybody who could listen but nobody gave a damn. And it seemed, as I look back that all I was fishing for was ‘we are sorry’. But it did not seem to matter to BA how they mess up your world on contracted agreements where they failed to do their part.
So I came before ICAN, thankfully, but without two nights of sleep as I could not sleep on an economy seat from London to Abuja. I survived it, but not without bruises.
On my way back I shared the experience with a British Architect friend who came to get me from Heathrow as I had a day’s break on the return from Mumbai.
My friend in London harassed me into writing about my experience to the Chief executive of British Airways and undertook to deliver it to the BA head office in London. No reaction came from British Airways. When next I was in London, he asked if I heard from BA. I said no, and he insisted on my printing another copy of the letter. He took it again to the BA HQ and had someone sign acknowledgement of receipt. Still not a note of receipt of the mail from BA.
I became so irritable at even the sight of the BA counters at airports and just refrained myself from suing the airline in the United States by the American University President who said she avoided British Airways for their poor customer service, urging that a law suit just increases aggravation. Is just voting with the feet enough? I found out when on this recent trip that when an international organization booked me to go from London to Dubai I almost took ill just stepping unto a BA cabin. I had been booked to come to London by an organization that invited me to speak in London but chose to buy an Arik ticket and allowed the return ticket on BA to lapse without use. That was how bad I felt. But I could not imagine the effect of flying the airline again. The trauma and the logic of the loss is a matter for debate. Before landing Dubai I could feel really ill even though nothing untowardly happened on that flight.
It was a wake up call for me that poor customer service really truly beyond irritation can traumatize. If an executive club member who was in the Gold category could be treated with such disregard, my British Architect friend had said, imagine what is happening to the fellow who saves up all he has to make that one flight in two years
Customers need to begin to organize and fight back. The cost they beer for poor service is high. Ralph Nader may have been motivated by a number of reasons to fight for the rights of the consumer, trauma of the psyche is a sure good addition.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship, is the founder of Centre for Values in Leadership.


Elections are in the horizon but the issues do not seem to be aligned with the real trouble of the moment. Why are we in such a trauma of poverty and so much unemployment and we are caught up with a thousand unrelated issues. Is it life imitating. Art as we seem to have found all kinds of jokes about our condition. Is the political class trying to prove the jokes. Sometime I wander if it is a bad dream.

Perhaps we can get to the really serious issues but begin with the jokes. The first one is credited, I hope correctly, to Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah. It goes more or less like this: Africa’s education system produces some incredible outcomes. The brightest, first class minds go to University and study medicine, Engineering and such others. The next best go to Business schools and boss the ones who went to study engineering and medicine, as CEOs; then the 3rd class materials enter politics and rule over the smarter ones.

But the ones who could not make it to University become criminals and politicians are beholden to them because they make the abuse of elections possible. So they become the true bosses of the politicians. Finally the drop outs who could not even find the courage to try crime become prophets and all from the engineers to the politicians and criminals follow them.

Truth about this is that it seems an anecdotal reference to our reality; just that some of the Doctors descend to be politicians and some of the CEOs end up as prophets so it is a little more fluid than the joke makes out.

In the second joke the criminals and politicians are threatened with arrest for not paying their taxes. They pay their taxes promptly and the Pastor announces that to thank God for the tenth anniversary of his Ministry he has bought a private Jet and A Rolls Royce and the entire church including the policeman guarding him and the chairman of the Inland Revenue service in the Congregation rise to bless God for His doings which is marvelous in the their eyes. None as much thinks of tax.

This may not be the best of humor even though we laugh quite loudly about it but does not point to why a country of very talented people manages to under-perform so spectacularly? Many doubt it. But that could be a ticking time bomb.

So we enter an election season that should be a single issue election because of how much that subject threatens the future, yet there is hardly any sign the issues are being framed or that this issue will loom large in the campaigns.

That issue, of course, is unemployment. In any normal country nobody running for office today who cannot show how their seeking office will be leading to significant job creation, or incumbents not defending their job creation records should even as much as get a listening from voters. But, as if to prove the point of the joke that we in the political class are the Third class people governed by the criminals the unwillingness to frame the issues and encourage debates makes the normal feel nausea welling up inside.

The lie about the level of unemployment, compounded by the significant phenomenon of disguised unemployment and an unproductive enterprise called politics as the most lucrative business in town, make a mockery of the election process and the main issue we should all be focusing on still desperation to ‘win’ persists. And you ask win to what. See how many died and how many sustained issues in local government election held in Delta state a week ago.

The triumph of politics over leadership and serious care for a viable future for the generations to come can be seen everywhere, from five Group Managing Directors of NNPC in as many years, and the wobbly state of Oil and Gas sector. Yet no one is taking on these challenges as part of the elections process. Except in Agriculture and one or two other areas the story is more or less the same, worse at the subnational level that should be the real drivers of development than at the centre.

What are the effects of the choices being made in Oil and Gas for our collective well-being and how can elections help us discuss them and make that enclave sector that hardly creates jobs yet has the potential to be a source for hundreds of thousands if not millions of quality jobs.

The NNPC revolving doors reminded me so much of how we make objects of international ridicule, our ways, making a serious conversation critical to an election year. In 1996 a departing World Bank country Representative, Gerald Flood remarked at his going – away reception how the Nigerian assignment was without a dull moment. For example, he said, he had the privilege of working with six finance ministers in the three years he spent in Nigeria.

I thought it unlikely. Then I began counting, Kalu Idika, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, the other Alhaji Abubakar who was succeeded by Oba Oladele Olashore, Aminu Saleh… oh my God, it is true.

Let me tell you of one damage that did to the economy. Banks we predominantly government owned at the time. Each minister, wanted to appoint his own Managing Directors of Banks and Executive Directors. The banks became revolving doors of graft and the shocks reverberated across the economy.

Why is this not part of the electioneering campaign so that institutions can emerge that set boundaries to such unwelcome conduct. Can the effect of such instability around which I wrote the 1998 book Managing Uncertainty, not so obvious in poor economic performance, job loses etc?

There are many questions arising down this path and if our politics cannot address such the process will just be a never ending joke on us.

As the jokes suggest we have managed to reverse the order of things compared to societies that are making progress. Styles and images of leadership follow these patterns in my reflections; three emphasized in the Christian Biblical tradition; servant, Shepherd and Steward; and a typology I have called solicitor leadership based on advocacy and building followership into a movement from stoutly arguing a point of view, as Ralph Nader does, in consumer rights issues, and Mohandas Gandhi did for matters of rights of the colonized.

As we look at 2015 do we see leadership that can help with a myriad of problems confronting us even in the face of potential. But will the 2015 elections process, because of machine politics allow a leadership to emerge that can address today’s pressing challenges?


What is it to be a professional? Discipline. A disciplined pursuit of an objective based on boundaries of ethical consideration and powered by knowledge and desire for respect of peers and standards in a global community. There is little doubt that the trouble with Nigeria comes from low levels of professionalism in many areas, yet Nigeria has produced many quintessential professionals such as Mr. Akintola Williams in accountancy, Dr. Michael Onolayola and Felix Ohiwerei in management. The CVL has celebrated or will celebrate all the men this year. If they abound why does failure of professionalism seem to define our national character so? Let us use Mr. Williams to reflect on this.
He is the grand pioneer and quintessential Professional. In many ways professionalism is about doing work with discipline, based on tried and test principles, and an ethic laced with integrity. Many consider Mr. Akintola Williams, pioneer accountant and pathfinder in the indigenous professional practice sector, a prime example of the breed.
The firm that would bear his name, Akintola Williams and company, now part of Deloitte, in response to globalization, which has affected professional practice, from Law, to Accountancy, and even Public Relations and Advertising, would also pioneer internationalization, especially with services offered to the African Development Bank, and outposts in Botswana and elsewhere.
In many ways Mr. Akintola Williams who is remembered as much for his professional work as he is for Corporate Social Responsibility and support of worthy causes is the ultimate role model. The icon as benchmark comes true with the number of outstanding people who use as measure of their self – worth how well they stack up behind Mr. Williams.
Even I use as the ultimate measure of providence being generous to me, the quiet whisper from Professor Yemi Osibajo on the day the Convention on Business Integrity, (CBI),celebrated a select few enterprise leaders for the first time in more than two decades of keeping watch on how enterprises operate with integrity. Among those honoured were two post humously and Mr. Akintola Williams, Dr. Michael Omolayole, Dr. Christopher Kolade and for some strange reason, myself. Speaking beneath his breathe Prof. Osibajo said to me’’ Pato, You keep good company. Only trouble is everybody else on the list is at least a quarter of century older than you’ I had to confess that my bones sometimes feel their age, so when on his 95th birthday Mr. Williams said to me “How would you like to be 95 and walk with the aid of a walking stick’ I had to resist joking that the mental age feel of my bones would be 120 years at that time. Jokes apart, it was the ultimate tribute to be counted in that company, makes a national honour of the Grand Commander type pace in value.
We all seem to measure by how we position relative to this icon of our times. But what has his sense of professionalism thought us about organizational integrity and corporate performance. Our panel at the CVL Leader without Title tribute colloquium to honour Mr. Williams, which is made up of Dotun Suleiman, Emmanuel, Ijewere, Marvi Isibor, Lateef Owoyemi and Uche Erobu will explore the challenges to professionalism in Nigeria.

This is a subject that has been the theme of the annual conferences of poise, the finishing school founded by Mrs. Isibor and at which I have been keynote speaker, No doubt the current crisis of governance in Nigeria, including how to align things in the face of collapsed oil price is a reminder that we need professionalism in the way we do things.
These discussion underline the three fold purpose of the LWT Tribute Colloquium series at the Centre for Values in leadership. The first is to honor and learn, the second is Think, Talk and lay the foundations for a Think Tank and the third is capture knowledge, inspire and help build institutions that shape the future, as worthy legacy.
On the first score we carefully choose Nigerians who made a difference to a world in their sector of human endeavor without care for title, more or less living Robin Sharma’s ideal of the Leader who had no title. They have to be 70 years or more in age and are clearly worth celebrating for the value they have created. In a century where we have missed the plot with our National honors list. It is hoped that we restore high value to those whose contributions are beyond dispute and whose values justify honor as values shape human progress by bringing them to this exclusive club of CVL LWT honorees. As Mahatma Ghandi reminds History remarks diligently those who do their duty. These men have done their duties exceptionally without looking for titles.
Lessons from the life of service of those honored, we hoped, will be gleaned from the roast and enable the up and coming identify enduring values to shape their own ascent.
The second goal of the series takes notice of the fact that one of the big challenges of Nigeria is the almost total absence of Think Tanks in our Policy Space. About a decade ago, Britain’s Department for International Development. DFID, commissioned me to research and produce a paper on the subject of Think Tanks and development in Nigeria. Capacity of Think Tanks, their lack, that is, has not only become a scandal for shaping policy in our development experience. It can be seen as partly responsible for the many challenges all around us.
So we look at the career of those we honor and extract a theme deserving exploring and raise an appropriate panel to engage on that theme. The discussion becomes feedstock for further research and advocacy to shape policy, and the policy process, especially around making markets work. In making a television series out of the LWT tribute colloquia it is our hope that the citizenry can become more enlightened and advocacy for policy with optimum outcomes, will be advanced.
Our hope is that from these will emerge a CVL Institution for Applied Economics of such global standing as The Brookings Institution and the Hoover institution in the United States.
On the third point we are confident to that these series can contribute to institution building which is key to sustainable development.
But the critical objective for now has to do we rekindle a strong sense of professionalism in Nigeria. A lot has to be said for what professional bodies do and how they hold their members accountable for the code of professional conduct and the nature of training which should instil a certain level of discipline, ethic and dignity that makes them feel above certain practices. As I said in a speech to the Eastern Zone of ICAN at Asaba a few years ago, accountants should feel a certain sense of shame from the broaden stealing of politicians from state government funds because they could not be done without the collaboration or acquiescence of accountants in government. I was glad the Accountant General of the west state agreed with me that day.
The bottom line is that to save a troubled Nigeria, we need more professionalism and institutions for making professionals more accountable.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship is Founder of the Center for Values in Leadership.


The Media and what influence it may or may not wield have been subjects of intellectual fascination for generations. As Nigeria becomes the new Pakistan, with bombs going off anywhere anytime, people have repeatedly asked the question what can the media do? Some accuse the media of not doing enough to prevent where we have arrived, from coming, others say it has been so partisan, a tool in the hands of those who have and want power or money, that it has failed in its duty to the Nigerian people; and others claim the media is actually the problem.
I expect similar debates to be going on a hundred years from now, if man still dwells here. Does media have influence? Yes. It may have some. Is it influenced? Surely it is by many factors; culture, structure of the industry, economics, power, and the professionalism of its practitioners and even the politics of the time as well as the nature of the channels of media of communication.
Media influence research from the days of press agency in the United States, the era of the PT Barnums’ when media influence was captured in the hypodermic needle metaphor, as definitive, has journeyed a remarkable course. As powerful newspapers like the New York Times endorsed candidates for political office, and such lost elections, the question of influence had to be reflected on. The answer; opinion leaders bridge such influence in a two – step or multi – step flow of communication. One question mark after the other and we all began to settle for a variety of explanations of variegated media influence. Of the more enduring are explanations that the media influences by its agenda setting function’ and by its status conferral function. Early on Marshall McLuhan had, in telling us the media is the massage, indeed the message showed how the nature of the medium, for example television influences demonstrators, and I would dare say, terrorists, whose goal is to generate attention, and panic. So just as demonstrators at the Chicago convention of 1968 were quickly brought to live by the arrival of a Television Camera, so do terrorists time their horrific acts for prime time news coverage.
Media also confers status. People emulate people they see in the media. They become celebrated and influence culture. The more the media show cases crooks, never-do-wells as leading politicians, the more it can be accused of degrading the quality of leadership and reducing Nigeria to mediocrity in the face of greater possibility. I must say that this is a critical factor in the current Nigerian condition. Many of our leading politicians are common criminals but the media has done little to educate instead it confess status on them, by featuring them.
Other explanations in media sociology like that offered by Siebert, Peterson and Schramm in the Four Theories of the Press look at broad media culture. The thesis of the Four theories essentially states that press systems are reflective and supportive of the governmental philosophies with which they operate: Can we say that the Nigeria Press System is Libertarian or Reflects a Social Responsibility paradigm?
Maybe it is more helpful to look at the media on a spectrum of developed/underdeveloped model like the Bazaar- Canteen development approach of the modernization of my former teacher Bill Siffin where underdeveloped media characterized by low social good’s values, limited education of the journalists, poor economic structure of the media which is not profitable enough to pay journalist well, as well as provide the right tools of work, is at the bazaar end, while at the canteen end, media is more sophisticated, more responsive to stakeholder aspiration and more focused on the common good.
My verdict is that the Nigerian press is somewhere on the spectrum, closer to the Bazaar than the Canteen end. What is perhaps more troubling is that even though today’s practitioners are better certificated than the era of the Peter Enahoro’s and the Gbolabo Ogunsanwos, those previous era practitioners seem infinitely more sophisticated, and of higher ethical standing. In many ways. Today’s journalism is struggling, with collapse of culture in the broader society in which corruption is systemic, and abuse of trust and authority, epidemic. These factors of reality pose existential challenges that affect professionalism in journalism and ultimately the role of media relative to the matters of now, like the security challenges crippling parts of the country.
In the face of the broad culture challenge and the existential pressures on journalists there remain many who have been steadfast and who put a greater premium on the professional expectations from the media than the challenges of the moment suggest.
Indeed there are some newspapers, beyond individuals, that by their corporate culture, are more institutionally insulated from the media that embarrasses the thinking man. The discerning citizen seems to know the difference.
The promise keepers of Nigerian Journalism, as I think the more discerning will observe, approach the security challenges as a threat to the collective destiny. On the other hand the extremely partisan media, and some in social media have reduced all matters to enemies and friends of those in power. Insightful analysis that can aid action to mitigate terrorist conduct are therefore not interrogated.
Good journalism is inherently skeptical, and probing. Not enough of that is happening today and that has deepened cynicism about what is going on. The case of abduction of a generation of the daughters of the people of Chibok is a case in point. Far too much time was lost because the press was slow to hold a government that sees everything through the prism of the next elections and the games of its opponents, rather than the trauma of parents and the value of human life, to account. Indeed one can argue that some curiosity about the peculiar adversity of churches being bombed prevented the media from realizing the consequence of what was coming in the early days of the Boko Haram, insurgency.
More sophisticated disposition should have meant that most journalists would have read Robert Kaplan’s Coming Anarchy and so would have been more discerning of where the brewing security crisis could be taking us.
I warned during the Niger Delta Militancy situation that even though there was a case of injustice there, we ran the danger of a mushrooming of a ‘violence blackmail’ syndrome of it was not intelligently managed. The blackmail of violence seems to have become a convention for political bargaining in Nigeria. In addition, conditions that lead ultimately to violence have festered for long without alarm bells from the media sounding so loud than even the deaf among the politicians would take notice. The levels of federal spending in Abuja versus that in the North East, for example. The media just seems inadequately resourced and much challenged professionally to do well. In similar light those factors of professionalism and resourcing means they are not embedded with either the government troops fighting Boko Haram nor with the insurgents to provide new meaning with insights into the operations of troops and motives of the terror group.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.


Nigerians are about to learn a frightening truth about the banks and the nature of God’s Justice.
As I scrabble it is March 27th and I have just come out from daily worship. The Priest had just delivered a brilliant homily on calumny and a natural inclination to be derogatory towards others but how God’s Grace is sufficient to fight that natural inclination. Nowhere, in my recent memory, has this deposition to lynch have been more evident than in the wrongs that have come out from the central Bank of Nigeria, clothed in the name.
We have seen lives shattered, careers damaged irreparably, reputations ruined, wealth destroyed, jobs lost and poverty increased for reasons evidence will soon show were totally unwarranted. But we all cheered as it happened because we like to believe the worst of others.
If you believe that God is just, you will know that ultimately the truth will come through. We should soon see the truth. Erastus Akingbola and company have fired the first shot. More will come. But it is not the raw justice of god that excites me. It is that in the end, while we will find rashness, and even criminal conspiracy to take from people what they labored for, thus harming the fundamental value of property rights what hurts more is the part of the actions that were well intentioned but because of a culture of impunity, limited regard for the dignity of other humans and presumption on matters of which those in charge had limited understanding and even more limited humility to learn, Nigerian banking suffered huge setbacks and the economy with it.
What we will see in the main is that ours is a country of elite too afraid to speak truth to power, so they kept quiet as innocents suffered under impunity. I feel good that I was one of the few who insisted the truth to be told. Today they make me feel like a prophet for what should be the norm.
When I took my view of doing right to testifying to the truth of what happened at Bank PHB I was privileged with interesting feedback. While a lot of informed, who could not distinguish a loan from monies stolen, and who could not see moral hazards from jingoistic lawyers who had no case but as with the tradition were trying to make defense witness uncomfortable through innuendo I found people who found the exercise an excursion in revelation. Two of those reactions particularly fascinated me.

One told me what the lawyer made him realize there were still saints and men of discipline in corporate Governance if all the lawyers dragged up was the worst they could find. But it Barth Ebong that made my day.

Said the former GMD of Union Bank of my testimony; if they were just a few like you this country would be different. Lamenting directors who distanced themselves from decisions they pushed for that were not ordinarily problematic he said his former chairman Elder UK Kalu had called to commend my stand for truth. Now all that truth will come out. Sadly they are coming because a man has fallen from power. Should it be so? Should he not have been saved from himself and saved a graceless fall from power by truth being spoken to power. I tried to tell the story of the story of the bold – faced attempt to steal Bank PHB from its owners, several hundred thousand hard working Nigerians under the guidance of elements in the central Bank after the Governor, with no evidence recklessly said it was one of the banks to watch, with clear intent of de-marketing the bank and starting a run on it, then rejected the stress test team was asked to return since they had collective amnesia on what they saw when they finished the test. But that is not the big story. The truly big story is how unnecessary stress tests torpedoed the momentum of banks who had either no troubles or troubles that could have been better managed differently, plunging the economy into massive job losses, creating challenges to the funding of many enterprise and instituting a fear of lending and borrowing in both bankers and potential wealth creating entrepreneurs.

It all began with an uncivil publication of names of so called bank debtors. Gross in the manner of attorney-client confidence being violated many of the publications were incorrect and some. In one case in which my name was mentioned. I was an independent director who joined the board of the company in which I had no shares five years after the transaction and the loan amortization frustrated by military in the Niger Delta had been sorted.

Many who went through that charade would never go near a bank again and some had learnt attacks. That damage the future of the enterprise culture in Nigeria is so huge that I wonder how come many who gloated over the damage to bankers did not see the bigger picture and greater harm, even if the charges against them were true. The cutting the nose to spite the face phenomenon left enough damage that one needs nine days of prayer (a novena) for Godwin Emefiele who takes over the CBN governorship position.

Were the stress tests that formed the case of and motive for the reforms necessary? I have argued for long that contagion from the subprime crises which spread with unprecedented speed through the world was the result of how interconnected the world had become with foreign banks investing much in the US risk cocktails. Nigerian banks were hardly so involved, and the Nigerian economy enjoyed the buffer of the huge reserves from high Oil prices.

The imitation of intervention elsewhere such as stress tests was evidence of lack of original thinking or alibi for premeditated abuse of the property rights of those whose banks were targeted as Bank PHB which the Yaradua’s wanted to pick up for nothing and the CBN proved a willing collaborator.

This government, now that it has come to admit what the old CBN leadership was, must do justice to those penalized for being hardworking Nigerian citizens whose sweat people in power targeted to steal. The human rights commission needs also to investigate what happened in CBN with reforms.

God is just. His justice may take time but it always comes, the “reforms” shot justice in the foot as all will soon discover.

Pat Utomi, a Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.