The firestorm generated by Chukwuma Soludo’s well reasoned commentary on the place of issues in the 2015 electioneering campaign has somehow become the core of the campaign. What a way to come from outside and define agenda.
Of course I do not agree with all the points marshaled by the erstwhile CBN Governor and Patito’s Gang member, but not to commend his citizen duty of engagement or indicate as reprehensible the resort to ad hominen bashing of the former Economic Adviser instead of providing Facts to counter the views he had raised. That is issues based campaign. I will myself raise logic to support and dispute some of the points in the Soludo intervention.
I do agree with Soludo that issues matter. I also think that those who turn to divisive emotion-laden typecasting of others rather than issues pertaining to the well being of the Nigerian people do a grave disservice not only to democracy but to the long term common Good of all.
The Soludo thrust of criticism sounds like an attack on the statist perspective that intervention can generate jobs and economic growth. Even as one who likes to see government out of the way, I find the approach worrying because beyond the Keynesian logic that brought the ultimate capitalist state, the US, out of the Great Depression with initiatives like the Tennessee Valley Authority in Infrastructure, there is more recent example of post 2008 global financial crisis and the stimulus packages of the Obama Administration, and now Europe turning to Quantitative Easing, not to knock the wall street / Main street tag team approach to ensuring prosperity. Soludo’s solutions sometimes sounded like Deepak Lal on the poverty of Development Economics. I think that if we see current oil price slum as an opportunity rather than a threat then we have to see a role for government in the way Lee Kuan Yew used state intervention when Singapore was prostrate in 1965, as Nigeria is today.

This leads to another point I am not in agreement with Soludo on. He talks about cost of programmes and the fact that low oil prices mean you cannot finance a big idea. In 1965 Singapore’s main revenues came from rent for the British Naval Base and the British had decided to shut all bases east of Eden. The decision of leaders of the United Malay, National Organisational (UMNO) to eject Singapore from the Federation that was thought to be the only hope left. Singapore, out of pocket, and all dressed up with nowhere to go. Then they rolled up their sleeves, got creative, transmitted the right values and found leadership that inspired and had integrity. Today the small country probably has the largest concentration of billionaires per capital on earth.
Here in Nigeria, shortly after self government, in the 1950’s, Nnamdi Azikiwe as Premier of Eastern Region was anxious to match the free education policy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Palm Produce did not fetch as much as Cocoa in the Market. The civil servants led by the new Permanent Secretary in Finance, Chief Jerome Udoji thought it could not be done because of limitations of money. Zik insisted and accused Udoji, in Parliament, of trying to sabotage his government. After 40 percent of the Eastern Nigeria budget of 1957 had gone to education and was still inadequate, the Ugoji team suggested the introduction of fees for Primary 1 and Primary 5. But leadership kicked in. A philosophy called “Ibu anyi danda” raised a formula that created a partnership between government, the communities and missionaries that enabled the East leapfrog the gap in education between the East and West.

In both cases the difference was leadership. At the centre in Abuja for some reason that may be from exposure, or whatever, does not inspire as Lee Kuan Yew, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Michael Okpara did. Money is not everything in making dreams come through.
Among the many lessons we will learn, if we begin to operationalize the cash transfers initiative of APC, a concept that helped Inatio Da Silva pull Brazil out of ‘potential’ into a global economic powerhouse, is that we may not need as much cash as Soludo projects and that corruption and goal displacement is so high in a bloated public service that the savings will more than be adequate. Besides from Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola we learn that with such programmes in Ekiti and Osun that the numbers projected are often exaggerated. Given our abuse of census we are likely to find much fewer people in those brackets. Check with the Bill Gates Foundation on satellite imagery studies of target population groups.

Having stated my major point of disagreement, it is useful to reflect on some other points raised by Soludo.

His broadside on austerity measures pronouncement and the road to austerity is a true, fair and proper read. No question that we walked with our eyes open into a repeat of 1982. In many of my speeches and my 2006 book WHY NATIONS Are Poor, I recall how the Iranian revolution pushed oil prices into the stratosphere of USD 40 a barrel. We went reckless with champagne and even importing sand and big men bought Rolls Royces. We managed to borrow ourselves into a dept trap. On this round we moved up private jets and buying up Dubai.

When this current boom started with India Rising and China producing I recall on several occasions calling for fiscal responsibility compact in which flows into the distributable pool, the FAC account, not go above $40 a barrel, with additional revenues up to $70 a barrel price going to a stabilization fund. This fund would be available were prices to drop below $40 to be used to ensure a constant budget funding up $40 in lean times. Beyond $70 it should flow into a future fund. I have been singing this song for several years but the technocrats say the politicians insist on sharing the whole money and say of talk about saving for a rainy day that it is pointless planning for the rain when it was already pouring torrents. My retort was what is so wrong in resigning to make a point and force public conversation to educate the people because these politicians may be greedy but they surely do not hate their children. They have only acted in ignorance. I point them to young Mahathir Mohammed in Malaysia who disagreed with the position of the then Prime Minister and spoke up. He was dropped from the government where he was a junior minister, and expelled from The United Malay National Organization (UMNO) the dominant party at that time. Out of government he wrote a book: The Malay Dilemma. That triggered soul searching that finished with the resignation of the Prime Minister. He was brought back into the Party. Not long after Dr Mahathir Ibn Mohammed became Prime Minister and the history of Malaysia changed for good.
What does it take to lead such change- Genius? No. I draw from the Ronald Reagan experience in the US. President Reagan was not a genius. Some think he probably already had Alzheimer disease when he entered the White house. But his values were clear as was his vision. He found the right people and an America, in retreat, was revitalized, opening the way for teen and twenty American young stars to create a new industry with the .com revolution. Ironically, I have said elsewhere that the Buhari movement somehow reminds me of the coming of Ronald Reagan.
Let me close with a caveat. My response is a citizen response. My prism on this is not partisan. But I am a card carrying member of the APC. The emergence of the APC is a culmination of my life’s quest as an institutionalist to see the dynamic of two balanced political parties. I was sure that without competition between parties that are equals progress would continue to elude Nigeria So I longed for and worked for the scenario we have today. But I see in the torrent of abuse on Chukwumah Soludo for speaking truth to power and worry this thing we have worked hard for, not in any pursuit of any self interest, but for the advance of the common good, could be threatened by those who fail to understand the very idea of the public squares and the triumph of the ideas rather than emotional outbursts that result in tension and violence. I have read unprintable things on line and in so many e-groups, some more offensive than Charlie Hebdo cartoons from both sides. This is poison we must curb. It is a double blow when those who follow this track are well educated. So let us leave this business of certificates and uncompleted PHDs and hateful portrayals of opponents in caricature from the cross to throw backs of earlier life of candidates that seem like Hitler’s Goebbels at work let’s examine vision of society of challenges and the record of incumbents. Lets ask people, regarding incumbents, is your life better today than it was four years ago and to the challengers how can you make these same lives much better four years from now. To win elections from intimidation, a shower of insults and trying to diminish opponents rather than engage their minds can only produce pyrrhic victory. The worst such “victory” would be to win an election and lose a nation through bitterness that makes it difficult to get people to work together to advance the shared good of the people. For people like me the public sphere is about the pursuit of the elevated immortality. This comes when you do what is right and if providence beckons, as it did for Mahathir Mohammed, lee Kuan Yew and Ronald Reagan then you live a name that time cannot find an eraser to rub off. Those who negate the opportunity for progress to blossom and the triumph of the human spirit to bring progress deserved die a thousand times while they still inhale and exhale no matter the title they get for their place is in infamy.


One of the great advances of communication technology in the age of modernity arrived our shores in 1959. With the founding of WNTV, in Ibadan, television arrived the continent of Africa.

As a young person going to secondary school in Ibadan at Loyola college, the lines: WNTV: – First in Africa, was a familiar refrain. The technology and its content shaped our window on the world but not often have seen the professionals who brought us the world to us, honored duly. More importantly, not so frequently have we managed to focus on their values, including work ethic and professionalism. These aspects of the make up of the leaders of the broadcasting industry have had to include the fact that change in the technology and what is considered appropriate content have come at a revolutionary pace.

Today we deal with the fusing of three once distinct streams of technology. Telecommunications,Computing and Broadcasting. The coming of ICT means that television which many young middle class Nigerians gathered around the window of more fortunate neighbor in 1962 to watch in black and white is available on a mobile phone in the go in high definition colour. From series like Bonanza and Newsreels we have the globe and hundreds of channels in the palm of our hands.

Among the men who managed the evolution of this technology that communicated life changing messages with interesting perspectives in the engineering, content and audience engagement are two former Directors General of NTA, Engineers Vincent Maduka and ShyngleWigwe.

As CVLhonours these pioneer icons in the Leader Without Title tribute series, our colloquium draws on people who have picked up the mantle as engineers in broadcasting, managers and entrepreneurs of the broadcast medium, and reviewers of culture trends, to light a candle on how to extend the frontiers of this medium.

The tribe include Prof. OnwuchekwaJemie, John Momoh, LemiOlalemi, Sola Omole, and KunleOgunbayo. The learning from their perspectives will further enrich the young with garnishings from the values and leadership experience.

Particularly of interest is the fact that under the leadership of both our honorees a lot of unique quality content were created, a rush of creativity that seems to have petered out but which no doubt became the seed that has sprouted into Nollywood. We hope that the conversation today will drive us towards a body of ideas that can drive Nigeria’s place in the industry.

Pat Utomi


It sure is a world of paradoxes. In Paris they tried to murder free speech and the world rose in a rhythm: Je suis Charlie. But in Baga, Damaturu etc. they continue to massacre a nation and even Abuja was deaf and dumb. In response Abuja went on the campaign trial and gave us another paradox.
The known Rose garden strategy of typical of American President was turned on its head in Nigeria, with the Villa becoming the chief campaign officer for the opponent. The campaign became so comical if I had the talent I would do a magazine mimicking Charlie Hebdo and maybe the world may have had a chant Je suis Patito.
What a time to be alive, in matters sad and in matters worth the memory. Faith came to earn a bad name in the targeting of both innocents and those who see the world through a different prism.
The clash of civilizations foreseen by Samuel Huntington, as Francis Fukuyama was proclaiming the end of history that has proven itself continuing, seems to have become a season of death. From Syria, through Iraq, to Mali and the North East of Nigeria, the new fundamentalist in Islam, has left a trail of death, bitterness and questions about our humanity. As the world struggles to separate Islam, a religion of peace and justice from those who preach an ideology of death with Islam as excuse, the focus has shifted to the way of containing the terror and the pain they unleash, and how to bandage the wounds and heal the sores of a world of harmony lost. But somehow we seem to be at loss on a strategy to engage on the matter.
To be fair, I know that there is work in the office of the National Security Adviser to construct a master plan for the economic regeneration of the North East, but the Villa seems so unsure of what to do there that the national leadership appears uninterested, detached and even lacking of human feeling regarding the deaths and disrupted lives that have come with the insurgency so that while French President Francois Hollende has visited the homes of the victims of the Paris Killings ours has not gone near the region.
It Abuja wants to boost the morale of the troops giving their lives to secure Nigeria’s sovereignty showing that a President who has a whole Army to protect him is scared of making some quick unannounced visit to a place that is not even the battle line is the wrong signaling. Understandably the foreign media has savaged the President on the matter. As if this is not bad enough the Presidency has chosen to deepen resentment towards the Villas handling of the matter by the President celebrating weddings of foster children in flamboyant manner as if all was well, cap this with campaigning of r reelection, as if nothing was wrong must have pissed off foreign media who know how President act in times for national emergency, deal with matters of local politics and election campaigns.
The way the Villa has come across in the handling of Boko Haram control of vast parts of the North East and the Killing of many innocents has been captured and reported by western media in a way that diminishes us all who are Nigerians. While we struggle with the shame this image brings, I have to admit that I am more fascinated by how this has featured in the campaigning of the Villa.
A president in a nation at war typically campaigns as a statesman above the frey, playing the commander-in-chief too busy trying to do what only C-in-Cs at war know well and understand. The Americans call it the Rose Garden strategy where the incumbent stays put in the white House, Making Presidential sounding statements from the Rose Garden.
What I have observed is the incumbent sounding like an angry challenger trying to attract attention while the APC candidate, Gen Mohammadu Buhari is sounding like the man in the Rose Garden. The paradoxes just seem unending.
As if this is not enough I had hoped for an issues based campaign, especially as the issues are all over the place. It would seem evidently that the man most on top of the issues is Prof Yemi Osinbajo. Even his principal who is playing the Rose Garden strategy seems clearer on his vision of the future than the incumbent seems willing, able or desirous of defending the record of his stewardship and offering a vision of new possibilities. I found that particular peculiar for a six year incumbent and I am not sure if it is the product of his being too angry with his opponents to articulate his position or something else.
But the issues pull at us from every angle. The economy is in free fall but the President persists in talking about having built the largest economy in Africa when the Legatum report places Nigeria a top the misery index, showing that our quality of life is not more likely a preferred one to one of Africa’s Desert Republics than in “Oil rich“ Nigeria. And this was before Oil prices crashed and our budget was instantly rendered unimplementable. Does it make sense to defend the Naira in the face of disappearing reserves and end up the way we did in 1982-84 resulting in the SAP tumble of the Naira in a way that devastated the newer investors, or should we, like the Russians have just let the Markets find their level?
Could we be debating how to make the current oil-price induced crises could be turned from a threat to a real opportunity to stimulate the spirit of enterprise and diversity the base of the economy away from this disturbing dependence on oil.
It somehow seems to mean that elements in the policy elite prefer to hope that they can soon return to the old ways as this may just be part of the old volatility of the Oil market rather than a structural shift in Oil economics. I disagree with them, which is why we need fundamental debates. I was hoping these campaign discussions would help orient the central Bank towards a more wise way of looking at the exchange rate crisis of now.
Two hours after the foregoing was written Breaking News came announcing that the President Goodluck Jonathan had made a surprise visit to Maiduguri. Amazing. Why did it take so long? Was it pummeling on CNN or desperation relative to election?
But his handlers did him a grave disservice not insisting ho do this a year ago, or at least within the week of the abduction of the Chibok girls. It also raised the issue of how much a Nigerian life is worth to Nigerian Leaders. In my view until the worth of a Nigerian life becomes the central issue in public life, affecting matters of economic choice and war and peace, our democracy will not be optimal in its outcome.
Later same evening CNN reports featured soldiers who said they had to buy their own kits and were not getting proper ammunition. They all blamed corruption. Let us assume they exaggerate. My hope is the lesson about how the culture of corruption is ultimately the death of us is learnt by a political culture that makes light of the subject. Maybe now we will realize the need to see corruption as a killer.

Pat Utomi is a political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.


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?