Nigerian economy: FG living in denial – Prof Utomi

Nigerian Economy

Renowned Economist and former Presidential Candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi at the weekend said the Nigerian economy is facing ‘a triple shock crisis.’

He said the problem has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the Federal Government still continues to live in denial.

Utomi, the founder of Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), spoke in Lagos on the sidelines of the distribution of CVL’s relief packages to some vulnerable to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.

He also decried what he called the lack of trust between the leaders and the led, noting that this has fuelled the many myths being associated with the COVID-19 pandemic with many Nigerians believing the virus doesn’t exist.

He said he expected the Federal Government to have been in “war cabinet” mode to wriggle out of the crisis, saying last week’s World Bank prediction that Nigeria would face the deepest recession never experienced before was not new to him as he predicted that three months ago.

“I didn’t need to wait for the World Bank to say that, I said that three months ago.

“So, compared to how we are behaving in response to the crisis, there is no relationship.

“The leadership of the country should have gone into a war cabinet mode.

“You know how a country is when it is in a war, it is like a situation room matter but our politicians are still doing business as usual.

“They are still hustling for legal plunder when the country is really on fire.”

Asked on the N2.3trn economic sustainability plan recently unveiled by the Federal Government, Utomi said he has ceased believing in figures, adding that it is execution that matters.

The Professor of Political Economy called for an approach of Latent Comparative Advantage in reviving the economy.

“What does this mean? You take certain factor endowment in your economy that you know you have a capacity to become a global champion if you dominate those value chains and you say, ‘Joshua, you are the champion of the sesame seeds value chain.’

“His business is to make sure that the education of those who live around areas where they produce sesame seeds is focused on how you can become the biggest producer of sesame seeds in the world. You become the biggest processor, not to export Sesame seeds and use it for hand burger,” he explained.

Utomi said the distribution of the relief packages comprising foodstuff under the “Neighbour caring for Neighbour” initiative of the centre was to show compassion to the people in order to get them to follow the protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He warned that the figure of the COVID-19 cases being reeled on a daily basis by the Federal Government is just a tip of the bigger problem facing the country, saying he knew of 10 people who have the virus and have been treating themselves while they await results of samples taken by the authorities.

“There are people who have gone for testing in Surulere, five weeks after the test, they have not received any result and several of those people know that they have it and they have been treating themselves.

“We are in a crisis and we need to connect to people in a way that because they see compassion, they can listen and when they listen, they can now behave appropriately in the interest of all of us,” he added.


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