The 68th is a special birthday for renowned political economist, intellectual and social activist Prof Pat Utomi. It is “A season of thanksgiving with a purpose”, as the scholar marks anniversaries galore: 40 years of the Pat Utomi Widow Support Initiative, 25 years of Patito’s Gang, and 20 years of the Centre for Values in Leadership.
Pat Utomi’s birthday is on 6 February.
He is a serial social entrepreneur, teacher, and businessman. To mark the day, he held an International Leadership Symposium on 5 February at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs and the Annual Lecture the following day at Muson Centre.
Keynote speakers at the International Leadership Symposium included former PB Executive who left his imprint on Detroit, Michigan transport Dr Adiele Nwankwo. He now runs his firm in Atlanta. There was also Lagos Business School faculty lead on Entrepreneurship, Dr Henrietta Onwuegbuzie, and a panel of practice with leading African and Gambian housing developer Mustafa Njie of Taf Africa Global. Others were Dr Cosmas Maduka of the Coscharis Group, Dr Leamon Ikpea of Lee Engineering and Construction Group, and Dr Alfred Okoigun of the Arco Group.
The symposium’s keynote speakers reflect Utomi’s commitment to nurturing Nigeria’s entrepreneurial spirit. Dr. Adiele Nwankwo and Dr. Henrietta Onwuegbuzie have inspired a new generation of business leaders. Their voices, echoing alongside those of accomplished figures like Dr. Cosmas Maduka and Dr. Leamon Ikpea, form a mighty chorus of success stories that challenge young Nigerians to dream big and build.
At the symposium, pPerspective speakers included leading Fintech founder Tunde Kehinde, who previously co-founded Jumia, and US-based Patience Key of the Nigerian Diaspora Chamber of Commerce.
Discussions on 6 February centred on the theme, “Democracy, Legitimacy and State Performance: The Mutual Benefits”. Speakers included Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh of the NDI in Washington, Prof. Peter Lewis from The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, USA and Prof. Atahiru Jega, a former INEC chairman.
A panel of six serving governors were billed to respond to the issue of performance. They were selected from Abia, Enugu, Nassarawa, Oyo and Ogun States.
Utomi’s journey spans diverse terrains from where he has lived a richly variegated life and career. He was among the first presidential advisers as Political Adviser to President Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic. He then served at Volkswagen of Nigeria Limited, growing from Assistant General Manager of Corporate Affairs to Chief Operating Officer.
Utomi was a pioneer lecturer and director of the Lagos Business School. He earned his professorship at the top-tier school, teaching a cohort of Nigeria’s young business leaders and visionaries. They rewarded him with board appointments; he sat on 26 board positions at one time at companies in the emerging technology, banking, insurance, and media sectors.
He was a guiding light of enterprise and ethics to these business leaders.
Professor Utomi is not just an intellectual giant but a man of the people. His dedication to the Pat Utomi Widow Support Initiative, Concerned Professionals and Patito’s Gang showcases his deep compassion and unwavering commitment to social justice. These initiatives, woven into the fabric of his legacy, stand as testaments to his belief in building a just and equitable society.
Utomi led the social activist movement of middle-class citizens against continued military rule called the Concerned Professionals. Many considered him the lead strategist who worked in the background of the Peter Obi presidential quest that took the Labour Party from nowhere to a respected third force in the 2023 Nigerian General Election.
Pat Utomi had his primary education at St. Thomas, Kano, from 1960 to 1962; Our Lady of Fatima, Gusau, from 1962 to 1966; Christ the King College, Onitsha and Loyola College, Ibadan, finishing his secondary education at the age of 15. Since he was not up to the entry age for university, 17, he enrolled at the Federal School of Arts and Science. After that, he was admitted into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1973 to study mass communication and graduated in 1977. He then proceeded to Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA, where he earned a Ph.D. as well as an MPA and MA. He was appointed professor of the Social and Political Economy Environment of Business and Pioneer Entrepreneurship Teacher at Lagos Business School in 2003. He has been a scholar-in-residence at the Harvard Business School and the American University in Washington, D.C.
Utomi regularly challenges fellow citizens to think, act, build, and strive for a better Nigeria. In his unwavering pursuit of excellence, ethical leadership, and human empowerment, Professor Utomi has shown us the path toward a brighter future.