By Michael Ukonu
A professor of Political economy, Pat Utomi has said that failure to respect the ideas of intellectuals is the reason why Nigeria continues to experience leadership crisis and poor development
He made this known at the 11th Jacksonite Annual Lecture, organized by the Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, July 3. The lecture went with the theme: The media and the development challenge in Nigeria at a time of crisis.
Utomi said that Nigeria in the last 30 years has descended into an anti- intellectual culture as politicians have always failed to welcome suggestions by great men intended to move the country forward.
According to him, these are very trying times in the history of the country as countless people are being killed on daily basis owing to insurgency in the north and the now recurrent clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the North- central.
He said that the economy of Nigeria is fundamentally an underperforming one even though the country is hugely endowed with a lot of human and material resources adding that all of these setbacks are a result of failed leadership.
He further noted that there continues to be an exodus of people from Nigeria because there is the perception that the prevalent situation in the country could grow from bad to worse with time.
“Nigeria has been in the firm grip of a few since 1966 and this group of people does not have the needed knowledge to salvage the country from the precipice of failure” he said.
He, however, expressed optimism that the many challenges facing Nigeria can be turned into opportunities for success when the right people are in power and the right measures are taken.
He said that the media can contribute to enhance rigor in policy choice and encourage a culture of reasoned public conversation on policy matters as well as play up the activities of civil society that results in strong institutions with more effective investment in human capital.
“The media can shape the future of our country with a culture that is aligned to progress from social responsibility orientation because they are at the heart of cultural conversation. With that, Nigeria can reach the heights its founding fathers dreamt” he said.
In his words “to vision the future based on a burden and pull others together to make what was yesterday’s impossible tomorrow’s routine in the face of the drag against the wind of change is really what progress is about”.
Speaking earlier, Head of the Department of Mass Communication, UNN, Dr Luke Anorue, recalled with gratitude the great contributions of Prof. Utomi and the University administration towards academic excellence in mass communication, UNN. He, however, called on the erudite Prof Utomi and the University administration to do more to upgrade learning in the department. Areas in great need of upgrade, according to Dr Anorue, were the television, radio, news editing and advertising/PR labs. The HOD also called on all the alumni of the department to contribute their quota towards upgrading teaching and learning by helping in the areas mentioned as well as in boosting the capacity of lecturers through sponsorship of refresher courses.
Highpoint of the event was the presentation of the award of Distinguished Jacksonites Ambassador to Prof. Pat Utomi for his giant developmental strides towards the Department of Mass Communication, UNN.