| By Jossy Nkwocha |
SINCE the middle 80s when I covered the Industrial Sector for Vanguard Newspapers as a rookie reporter, I have always seen Prof. Pat Utomi as a man to emulate. He was then the Chief Operating Officer and Acting Managing Director of Volkswagen Nigeria Limited. He was only 30 when he assumed that responsibility in 1986. That was after spending few months as the company’s Assistant General Manager, Corporate Affairs.
These past 30 years, therefore, I have tried to study this phenomenon called Patrick Okedinachi Utomi, who was born on 6th February, 1956 to Ibusa parents of Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State.
He is a mentor and role model for many Nigerian youths, many of whom have benefited from his youth programmes at the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), Victoria Island, Lagos, which he founded. The Centre also celebrates people who have achieved high successes in various areas of life, and uses them as a case study for younger ones to learn and grow.
Pat Utomi is also a quintessential scholar — right from his undergraduate days at the Jackson School of Journalism, Mass communications department, University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he graduated in 1977; to his graduate school at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA, where he obtained his Ph.D, and later co-founded the Lagos Business School and Pan Atlantic University; and appointed professor of political economy.
He has many intellectual books and research papers published in international journals to show for his scholarship. One of his books, Critical Perspectives on Nigerian Political Economy and Management: A Book of Readings and Cases in Social and Political Environment of Business is a classic in intellectualism. Today, he is part-time member of faculty of the Lagos Business School and the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos as well as scholar-in-residence at the Harvard Business School and the American University in Washington, D.C.
Besides, Prof. Utomi exhibits his cerebral prowess at national and international conferences wherever he is asked to present papers or lead discussions on national and international issues.
Prof Utomi is equally a man of ideas; but most importantly he usually translates such ideas into action, hence is both an intellectual and an entrepreneur. He has helped to found many businesses and has sat on the board of many top business organisations in Nigeria. He is Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Utomapp Holdings Limited; he was Vice-chairman, Platinum–Habib Bank, and Chairman of BusinessDay Media Limited.
His entrepreneurial credentials have made him a prominent figure in some apex private sector associations such as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the National Council of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Institute of Directors (IOD), Nigeria Economic Summit Group and the Nigeria Economic Society.
He is also a Fellow of both the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Institute of Management consultants of Nigeria. He is quite active on the international speaking circuit, especially on the subjects of growth economics, comparative development, leadership, politics and development, wealth creation and poverty, among others.
Some people believe that Prof. Pat Utomi is really restless. He is also a political activist. He learnt the ropes way back in the Second Republic when the then Vice presidential candidates, Dr Alex Ekwueme enlisted him into his political Think Thank. Soon after, he was appointed Special Assistant by President Shehu Shagari, a position he lost following the military coup of December 1983.
He coordinated the establishment of several civil society groups on good governance and accountability such as Transparency in Nigeria (TIN), Concerned Professionals, Restoration Group and Save Nigeria Group. He even created a television talk-show called Patito’s Gang, to canvass his political and socio-economic ideas.
In 2011, he ran for the presidency of Nigeria under the African Democratic Congress Party (ADCP) and lost. True, many Nigerians do not yet see him as a politician. Pat Utomi is indeed a Jack of all trade and master of all, perhaps except politics! He is a rare gem, a man of many parts!
In 2014, he joined the All Progressive Congress (APC), the current ruling party and was one of the eggheads who wrote the party’s strategy papers that eventually won the heart of Nigerians for Change. One day, Nigerians would have Prof. Utomi as their President to bring his lofty ideas of human development, wealth creation, national unity, etc to fruition.
In 2005, the Family Life Organisation (FAMILO), in which I served as President, honoured Pat Utomi and his wife, Dr (Mrs) Ifeoma Utomi with the Family Good Ambassadors Award to mark Intentional Day of the Family. Indeed, Pat is an excellent family man. I knew this after interviewing them for Quality magazine many years ago. Last year, they celebrated their 35 years of happy marriage which has produced five children. Pat also has an NGO that takes care of widows.
Pat Utomi’s childhood and upbringing, perhaps accounts for his pan-Nigeria posture and compassionate spirit. He was born in Kaduna. He had his primary education at St. Thomas College, Kano, 1960-62 and Our Lady of Fatima, Gusau 1962-1966. His secondary school education was at Christ the King College, Onitsha and Loyola College, Ibadan. A precocious child, he finished his secondary education at the age of 15.
Prof Pat Utomi’s 60 years are packed full of remarkable achievements and milestones. As the legendary Abraham Lincoln said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that counts; it is the life in your years!” We can all agree that indeed there has been life in Pat Utomi’s years!
Perhaps, it can all be traced to his “Chi” — the Igbo Personal God who designs the destinies of all men. At his birth in February 1956, his parents called him “Okedinachi” meaning “one’s destiny is of God”. As Prof. Utomi turns 60 on Saturday, 6th February 2016, he has a lot to be thankful to Almighty God. I join all men and women of goodwill to celebrate this gem, a true patriot, a distinguished son of Nigeria, a role model and quintessential scholar and entrepreneur. Happy birthday, Professor Patrick Okedinachi Utomi!
- Jossy Nkwocha, former General Editor of Newswatch magazine is Head of Corporate Communications and Special Adviser to the Managing Director of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals, Port Harcourt.
— Feb 15, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT