Democratic process better served by direct primaries, says Utomi
Prof. Pat Utomi
• I’m Not Running On Basis Of Zoning, But Competence
Prof. Pat Utomi, an All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship hopeful in Delta State spoke with Sony Neme on his agenda and chances in the
You were reported to have staged a walkout on the State Working Committee (SWC) over mode of primaries, what are your options now?
To be clear, I did not walkout on the meeting, even though my voice was a strong voice of dissent. I indicated on arrival that I had a planned rally in Okpara Inland in Ethiope East. Instead of heading there as scheduled I stayed back in Asaba to be sure my voice was heard rather than boycott the meeting as many did.
For me the Democratic process is better served by direct primaries. To add to that if you want, I wish to repeat that I did not walk out of the meeting and that my options are following a democratic path. If an honest democratic track brings a choice I will live with and play in it. But it has to be different than the choir of contrivance that sang in Asaba at the SWC committee meeting. It showed the need for harmonization of tendencies to make the party broadly inclusive.
A good political party needs mechanisms for accommodating diversity within the general ideological thrust.Indeed, my great value to the party is that I am a unifying force. Besides being the only original founding member of APC contesting and one committed to building up the party, my personal style insists that it is best for all to be inside the house pissing out than some to be outside the house pissing out.
Did you ever expect to get justice in the present party system that is full of crooked practices?
I am a person of faith and I believe justice will come to those who persevere. Like the widow who wore down the unjust judge in scripture, justice comes to the righteous and the just. Change is possible and our struggle has been about change from the founding of the APC. It may not come as quickly as miracle seekers want but come it will.
What are your views on zoning, and chances of Delta North in 2019?
Politics is the art of the possible. It is also about aggregating interests. There are coping mechanism beyond ideal types that help accommodation and a certain order that help systems. Zoning is one such phenomenon. I do not condemn it and those who propose it for its value. But I am not running on that. My message is simple. If you can find any aspirant in Delta who outranks me in competence, compassion for the people, capacity for changing complex situations like in Delta, please vote for that person.
Look at the situation where Delta is number one in FACC account receipts, is second in debt mountain only to Lagos whose IGR suggest debt service is sustainable, but Delta is an IGR laggard. Yet in terms of infrastructure and jobs Delta is in a worse position compared to Anambra that gets less than N3bn when Delta gets N17bn from FACC. You need a serious manager not share the gala share the booze professional politician.
I have asked not to be assessed on plans and promises alone but on my record and history of commitment to social causes, the formulation and implementation of policy in several states and, of course, as an academic who has collaborated with some of the world’s leading authorities interrogating the human conditions.
Will it not be better for your people to remain with Okowa and PDP than for the governorship ticket to return to Delta Central just for APC sake?
The current situation is not sustainable. If leadership does not move to more capable hands, generations of Deltans will hold this generation in contempt. Incumbents may be well intentioned but the capacity problems are glaring beyond partisan and ethnic cleavages. We must learn to think of our children and legacy and abandon instant gratification impulses. There is also a problem in extant arrangement I have railed against for many years on a matter of principle. I think anybody who has been paid continually by government without a cooling off period of at least three years is dangerous to governance. Creativity is in short supply and what is touted as experience is essentially one-year experience repeated many times. The state of inertia in Delta today is partly a result of that.
Are there chances that you will be compensated with a senatorial ticket, should you fail to make it as a governor?
Quite frankly I am neither interested in a Senatorial ticket or a Cabinet position for that matter. My interest is in direct impact on people whose dignity is crushed by poverty where there should be prosperity; people who are dying in accidents from horrible roads and the absence of security and peace, which is causing companies to move from a state like Delta. I am not in this to get a position. I am a contented citizen who believes impact is key to immortality and that all men must seek a high return on their talent in service of God and neighbour.