PROFESSOR of Political Economy and Management expert, Patrick Okedinachi Utomi has observed that wealth of nations are no longer in natural resources but brains. Disclosing this in an interactive session to mark Nigeria’s 54th independence, Utomi explained that resource-rich developing countries are now ironically poorer than those abundantly endowed with mineral resources.
Professor Pat Utomi in espousing the Resource-Curse theory cited Singapore currently the hub of Asian economy and resource-rich Nigeria, whose oil wealth has rather impoverished her citizens.
On the way forward, the founder of Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL) and one-time presidential candidate, called for creative governance that deploys human resources evident in Nigeria’s young population.
Utomi equally challenged youths to take their destiny in their hands. He also spoke on other national issues, including the controversial $9.3 million arms deal.
Nigeria is 54, would you say we’ve made reasonable progress so far?
Nothing a man does is completely wise, nothing a man does is completely foolish. We have a lot of issues. I think things would have been done very differently in this country. I think by now, if appropriate wisdom had come in 1999, Nigeria would have been a better place. It took just one generation to transform Singapore from the simple fishing village to the centre of Asia.
In the past, Nigeria had a university comparable to Harvard. About the same time, Saudi princes were coming to University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital for their medicals. Our case is quite pitiable.
Nigeria is no longer the envy of other nations, what is responsible for this sad development?
The wealth of this country is in our brains, not in what is under the ground. In the report of World Bank (Resource Curse Study), it was observed that resource-poor developing countries were growing richer than resource-rich developing countries. Why? Because the resource-rich countries were struggling for wealth from oil, diamond and other mineral resources rather than applying their brains to create wealth. Most of the wars in Africa are for resources.
So, this is not the Nigeria of your dream and the nation is not yet there?
Societies evolve. For Nigeria, it has been a chequered movement (back and forth). All these considered, we are moving in a generally positive direction. One of the problems we have is that we are too engrossed in numbers, biggest economy in Africa, seven per cent, six per cent, five per cent growth rate. There is still much to be done.
What’s the role of Nigerian youths in moving the nation forward?
The youth should seize this opportunity to create the world they desire. You have everything working for you. The youths have more votes than some of us above 50. The power of change is in your hands. You can change a government that doesn’t cater for your needs with the social media.
The $9.3 million seized by South Africa government is still raising serious controversy. Do we really need that for arms and must the fund be transferred illegally?
The whole thing is boggling my imagination. If we couldn’t buy arms through regular ways because Americans are blocking us, I don’t think what happened is the most clever way to explain that. If Americans are blocking us and stopping us from buying helicopters from Israel, that means there’s something we are not getting right. If we have a problem buying arms the regular way, and we want to buy in South Africa, we have diplomatic channels to do so since we are all African nations. President Jonathan can call South Africa President and discuss arms deal with his government. You can’t just illegally go to the market because Americans are behaving badly. You have to find a way of transferring the cash instead of the way it was carried. That’s not an intelligent way to deal with the situation.
– UCHE OLEHI