Utomi described the few power brokers as the “club of capture” and attributed Nigeria’s woes to them.
He spoke in Lagos during a public lecture organised by the Evangelical Christian Union Alumni Fellowship.
The lecture was held to raise awareness on the need to elect people of integrity ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Utomi’s lecture, “Healing a bleeding nation,” addressed the causes of Nigeria’s underdevelopment, institutional failures and how a few people ran the country aground for many years.
“Today’s politicians are mentally ill-equipped. The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was surrounded by intellectuals and professors. These days, the opposite is the case. Pimps accompany our politicians. This ‘class of capture’ has inflicted an anti-intellectual culture on the country,” he said.
The former presidential candidate added that oil would be irrelevant to the country in the next 12 years, warning that if Nigerian leaders refused to act and invest in human resources, the country would remain backward.
Utomi also described the National Assembly as one of the biggest problems of Nigeria’s democracy.
The political economist noted that Nigeria must emulate Singapore where only the brightest minds assume positions of authority.
He said, “The club of capture can be grouped into three categories. The first is the moderniser wannabes. The value system of this category sabotaged their desire. The second are the narcissistic influencers, who are so consumed by their self-love. These people are contented with whoever is in power so far they can appoint the oil minister and others. The last are the entitlement-minded ones. Nigeria has become the entitlement of the last category.
“When those in the club of capture lose legitimacy, they look for ways to circumnavigate. They look for weak persons to push into positions of authorities so they don’t lose their grip on power. Nigeria has suffered from power capture for 51 years. Less than 60 persons have been deciding our fortunes for the past 51 years. When President Muhammadu Buhari travelled abroad for medical vacation, they (club of capture) gathered people together to decide who would be president and vice-president. There has never really been an election in Nigeria. But there is hope for Nigeria.”