Pat Utomi at 60 : Celebration of service, excellence
SOMETIMES, it is a daunting task to present a tribute to a man who has covered extensive areas of human endeavour, spanning several decades; difficult because he has provided service in the most honest and dedicated manner, in an environment filled with leadership failures, moral decadence and in an unethical climate.
A fair-minded man; a corporate player; an academic par excellence; an excellent family man; a man loved by persons from all walks of life and across boundaries; a devout catholic; a man of integrity; a man with a huge sense of purpose and dedication; a commanding speaker; a man with an unparalleled retentive memory; a philanthropist; a board room guru and a selfless volunteer. These qualities developed over time and have been observed and recognised with admiration by the oppressed and the poor and by those who believe that there is no difference between public treasury and personal purse.
Professor Patrick Okedinachi Utomi, who hails from Ibusa in Delta State, was born on February 6, 1956. He attended the St. Thomas, Kano, Our Lady of Fatima, Gusau, Christ The King’s College, Onitsha, Loyola College, Ibadan, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, University of London and the Indiana University (Bloomington) Indiana, USA. Prof. Utomi also participated in executive education programmes such as AMP, INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France (1994) and the CEP, LBS – Lagos Business School (1994), In-company programmes with business schools in Europe and North America for Volkswagen Managers. (1989/1991), Management of Human Relations, Management Centre, Europe, Brussels, 1989, Harvard Business School (Corporate Governance) (2008), and the Kellogg School (Managing Corporate Boards) (2010).
A fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria and founding Senior Faculty of the Lagos Business School-Pan Atlantic University, he was Director of The Centre For Applied Economics at the Lagos Business School. He has served in senior positions in government, as an Adviser to the President of Nigeria; the Private Sector, as Chief Operating Officer for Volkswagen of Nigeria, and in academia. He is the author of several Management and Public Policy books including the Award Winning Managing Uncertainty: Competition and Strategy in Emerging Economies, 1998 and the 2006 book ‘Why Nations are Poor.’ His academic background covers a range from Policy Economics, Business Administration, and Political Science to Mass Communication. As an entrepreneur, he has founded or co-founded companies that are active in fields including financial services, ICT, Media and Agriculture. He is a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
A multitasker, he has reached the top in several different endeavours, becoming one of Nigeria’s top managers in Manufacturing before his 33rd birthday, reaching a Presidential Advisory position at 27; earning two Master Degrees and a PhD at 26, a Professorship and global acknowledgement as a leading scholar in Business, Political Economy and Media Studies in his 40s. His first publication in a refereed international journal appeared in 1981 in a European Journal, Gazette. He is perhaps the first candidate for President in Nigeria to be formally endorsed by such renowned scholars as the Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka and Prof .Sam Aluko among others.
Honoured by so many professional bodies as a distinguished fellow (including Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, the Institute of Directors (Nigeria), Institute of Strategic Management, Academy of Entrepreneurship Studies, and inducted into the Junior Achievement (Nigeria) Hall of Fame; and by the Senate of the University of Nigeria and Alumni of UNN (ALOHA – A Lion of High Achievement) with a collection of more than 700 plaques that mark a life of service. He has been awarded the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA Honoris Causa) by the University of Nigeria in 2012. He was recently, along with such legends as Mr. Akintola Williams, Dr. Michael Omolayole and Dr. Christopher Kolade, honoured by the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI), the only such recognition in two decades. He was also celebrated by Delta State Government as it marked 20 years of Delta as one of the top 50 Deltans in history, and also named among Igbo global best 50 of Ola ndigbo. Prof. Utomi was voted one of the top 10 Nigerian Living Legends in the Vanguard/Silver Bird Television poll in 2009.
As a Business Angel he has helped found such companies as Linkserve (Nigeria’s first ISP), Socketworks (Pioneer e-government systems developer in Nigeria, and Business Day (Nigeria’s first daily business newspaper). He created the iconic LBS monthly executive briefing breakfast and hosted it for its first 10 years, and inspired the founding of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Studies of LBS (now EDC) after a 1996 visit to the Sole C. Snyder Centre at Wharton, in Philadelphia. His other books include Critical Perspectives in Political Economy and Management; To Serve is to Live; Business Angel as a Missionary, The Art of Leading, and four other books that are collections of his published opinions. He has written dozens of chapters in edited volumes. Conversations with him have also been published in books of interviews with Utomi.
Appointed Professor of the Social and Political Economy Environment of Business and Pioneer Entrepreneurship Teacher at LBS, he has been a scholar-in-residence at the Harvard Business School and the American University in Washington DC. As leader of Civil Society, he is the founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership; and the Concerned Professionals, which was bulwark against-military oppression, among numerous other social enterprise initiatives. He has served on the key apex private sector associations including the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI); The National Council of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; and the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA). He is active on the international speaking circuit, especially on the subjects of growth economics, comparative development, leadership, the curse of oil and China’s economic surge and growing influence in Africa. He has collaborated fairly frequently with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, and Chatham House, in the UK. He has also written commissioned papers for the UK’s DFID including the latest collaboration with Colleagues from Oxford on the Political Economy of Growth in Nigeria (2006).
Active in leadership of boards of firms involved in several sectors including financial services, information technology, food technology, marketing communications, media groups and telecommunications, including Chairman, Platinum Bank, later Vice-Chairman Bank PHB, Chairman, Corporate Finance Group (CFG), Chairman, Finacorp Building Society, Chairman, Business Day Media Ltd, Chairman, Vivante Media Enterprises, Chairman, Graceland Chocolate Manufacturing Company, Englewood, New Jersey, USA. (1998 – 2005), Chairman, Patike Communications Ltd, Chairman, UEG (The Enterprise Group), Chairman, Trend Corps Africa – The CTL and Trend TV Group, Executive Chairman, UTRM, Chairman/ General Partner, Leapfrog Venture Partners (Nigeria’s first true Venture Capital Company), Director, and Co-founder, Linkserve (Nigeria’s first Internet Service Provider), Director, Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc, Chairman, Utomi Technologies, Chairman, Interactive Data Systems Ltd, Chairman, Wordsmiths (Printing and Packaging Company), Director, Contact Marketing Services Ltd, Chairman, Utomapp Limited, Chairman, OK Computers Limited, Chairman, Bompac Limited, Chairman, Baywood Continental Limited, the Oil Servicing Company, Director, Computerage Nigeria Ltd – (Nigeria Master Franchise Holder), Chairman, Avenues to Wealth – Network Marketing Venture, Chairman, Nagode Industries Limited
Prof. Utomi has undertaken key policy assignments including Chairman, Presidential Panel for developing a National Integrity System (1999-2000), Chairman, Presidential Panel for Restructuring Agencies of Integrity and Transparency for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Secretary and later as Acting Chairman, Economic Advisory Team for candidate Olusegun Obasanjo in the run-up to the 1999 Presidential election, Governance Committee of the transition council of President-elect Olusegun Obasanjo, PPRAC, Chairman, Privatization Committee Governor-Elect of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu’s transition working group. (1999) Led quarterly retreats of Lagos State Cabinet (1999-2005), Privatization Consultative Council for Lagos State, served in USAID team designing and implementing training intervention for elected officials in Nigeria in 1999, Advisory Committee to Review JAMB (1999), Member, Delta State Think Tank on Development, the Steering Committee of the National Council on Privatization for Competition and antitrust, National Council on Privatization Steering Committee for Pensions Reform, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on WTO and Trade Policy, Chairman Committee of the FCT Minister for the City University of Abuja, Consultant to World Bank Group Private Sector Assessment (PSA) for Nigeria
Our country is blessed with heroes like Prof. Pat Utomi who has continued to play a vital and fundamental role in unfolding of Nigeria’s future and believes in the restructuring of our national economy to guarantee benefits to all from our common resources and for our common good. As one of the forthright commentators on important national issues, he believes that no greater injustice can be committed than to deny future generations the right to learn and the right to knowledge.