Pat Utomi – Entreprenuer & Social Activist
Professor Patrick Okedinachi Utomi was born February 6, 1956 in Kaduna, though from Delta State, he attended St. Thomas, Kano; Our Lady of Fatima, Gusau; Christ The King’s College, Onitsha and Loyola College, Ibadan, finishing his secondary education at the age of 15. The entry age for University education was 17, so he enrolled at the Federal School of Arts and Science in the interim. He later got admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1973 to study Mass Communication.
After graduating from UNN in 1977 at the age of 21, he his NYSC at Newbreed magazine. At Newbreed he was able to establish a reputation for himself as a reporter. He confesses: “The most important thing then was that I enjoyed what I was doing.”
After youth service, Prof. Utomi left the country in search of knowledge at the Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. He left with the aim of grabbing a master degree in Business Administration and Journalism, the ultimate for him then was to become a “media mogul” in Nigeria. But mid-way into the programme, he was encouraged by Professor Patrick O. Ngara, the Institution’s Director of African Studies to study something else.
Prof. Utomi heeded to this advice and took a specialty in Public Finance and Budgeting. He also went ahead to get a Ph.D. in Political Economy, two broad areas – Public and Environment Affairs and Political Economy and Public Policy. At the age of 26, the maverick Professor had four University degrees in his kitty. While in USA, he was moved by a young fellow, David Tudeman who was then the Director of Budget in the Reagan administration. In Prof. Utomi’s words, “My dream was to become a Director of Budget in Nigeria.”
Prof. Utomi returned to Nigeria in 1982 to the full embrace of journalism, from where he was appointed at the age of 27, as the Special Assistant (Political Affairs) to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari in October 1983. The December 1983 military takeover ended his appointment. He thus decided to enter into the private sector, falling back on the two companies he had earlier set up, Patike Communications Limited and Utomapp Holdings.
In 1986, Volkswagen of Nigeria contacted him to help deal with a crisis that was eating deep into the fabrics of the company as Assistant General Manager (Corporate Affairs). He was later appointed the company’s Deputy Managing Director in 1989, thus becoming the first Nigerian to hold such a post. At 35, he became the acting Managing Director VWON.
Prof. Utomi was not ready to sit tight in a place. “I sat up and decided that unless I am crazy and stupid, I cannot be at the top of Volkswagen for 20 years because retirement age there is 55. It would certainly bore me to death and it would discourage any other person aspiring to be the CEO. I thus made a statement out rightly that I would be leaving the company at 38.”
Prof. Utomi made good his promise, left VWON and returned to his third career; teaching in 1994. He became a Director of the Centre for Applied Economics at the Lagos Business School of Pan African University. He is well known and is very active on the Nigerian business scene and sits on the board of over 20 companies, including Bank PHB, majority of them as Chairman.
The Professor of Social and Political Environment of Business is the host of television news / talk show series – Patitos Gang. He is credited to have written thousands published articles, seminar and conference papers has published articles in academic journals and contributed chapters to books published in Europe and the United States in several disciplines. He is an award winning author of several books.
Prof. Utomi founded the widow support centre “to help widows from low socio-economic segments of society.” A project which evolved for years into a Charity Organization known as Widow Support Centre. The main objective was to help poor widows develop skills that enhance their income, provide micro credit to those engaged in trading and arrange a mentoring scheme for their children.He established the Centre for Values in Leadership. The Centre among other things is committed to mentoring and empowering the youths. He is actively in organizations like Transparency International, Good Governance of Africa and the West African Enterprise Network.