Professor Pat Utomi does not need much of an introduction; he is a very public individual. Call him an economist, patriot, politician, philosopher, public intellectual, TV host, e.t.c., and you are all correct; only he is more. In this revealing chat with The Interview,he dissects the various pitfalls of the country and points the way forward. He’s an interviewer’s delight any time, any day, and he says it the way it is. Find out…
You started out early in life. What were the factors that contributed to your career achievements?
You know, one of the things I have been emphasizing in talking to people about education, development and all of that is that it is important for us to focus on the early days, because it seems to me that one of the biggest mistakes that we make is forgetting that the best time to educate is when people are very, very young actually, as most learning, I am told, happens between ages four and nine or thereabout. But we have this situation where, today, there is obsession with tertiary education in Nigeria that we forget that primary education is much more valuable than tertiary education in terms of what that person can truly become. In that sense, I think I was fortunate because I started primary school early, given the circumstances of my birth, a son of a moving company man. I was born in Kaduna, few months later I was baptized in Jos. A year or so later, my family was living in Maiduguri, and I started school in Kano. I had the bulk of my primary education in a place called Gusau, in today’s Zamfara State but this was in a period just before independence and immediately after independence. Growing up in Gusau I was under the tutelage of a group of Catholic priests who were Americans and of the Dominican Order. The Dominicans had an outpost in Gusau and, I think, they still have things around there. Indeed the first Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese – where Bishop Mathew Kukah is today – was a Dominican. I remember him as Monsignor Lotin. At that time John F. Kennedy happened to be the president of United States. As you know, John .F Kennedy was the first Catholic president of the United States. So you can imagine there was a lot of consequence on how those Americans saw the world and saw shaping the lives of young people. So at age seven, eight, I was being given books that 30-year-olds were not reading by these priests about Kennedy, about American history and so on. I was significantly influenced by this. In all the competitions we had, I stood out. I was an altar boy,so by 5am I had come to serve mass at age seven, eight, nine. So a number of strong principles, of ethics of service were inculcated very early in me; that is, giving up yourselfthinking, literally speaking, was the nature of how I was brought up. So many people comment today about me as being too generous, some saying you kill yourself, sacrificing for things you don’t even get money for. They can’t understand that it is because I was brought that way. My whole upbringing in all of those learning years was about selfless giving of self. It was very critical to my past, because I also got that early start – I was more adventurous. Let’s give, as an example, many of my contemporaries, my classmates, by the time we were leaving university, were in a hurry to start life, to get married, to take of as parents or people like that. I was 15 when I left secondary school; I was 21 when I was graduating from university; I was not restrained or constrained by those kinds of things. I just wanted to go on, so when people say he had two Master’s degrees and Ph.D at age 26, it sounds extraordinary, but look at how early I started. So those things happening, there was nothing peculiar about them because I was in the field of adventure; I was not restrained by other factors. That is the much I can say about what gave me the early start.
As a young man, you were appointed to serve as special assistant to former PresidentShehuShagari in 1983 before the government was removed by the military. Today, young people appear to be sidelined completely by the older generation – your generation – in politics and governance. What do you think is responsible for this?
That people of earlier generation than mine are still very much around in politics and governance – to be very, very fair – is not necessarily by age; however, I think there is something fundamentally wrong with a society that does not give opportunities to its young people. Indeed, most societies that had trouble were rescued by their young. Youth is the age of giving. The different thing about my own career track and situation and what is happening now is that it is now a less merit-driven society. In my own time, whatever happened to me was completely by merit, not because somebody knew somebody. It was totally on merit. I feel very sorry we live in a society that lays less emphasis on merit. That is why the Nigeria state is pretty much a failure actually, because emphasis is not placed on merit in the way people do things, and this I will lay at the feet of the Class of 66. There was a group of soldiers who took Nigeria over in 1966 and, essentially, held Nigeria captive for 50 years in a state capture. It is part of the reason Nigeria has not made progress. Part of my thesis today is that Nigeria will still not make progress until we eclipse the Class of 66. Then there was a culture imbibed by Class 66 who did not get the culture that was offered to us early in life, that is, the culture of being given the opportunity to show what you have and to be given a chance to show what you may have. I came back from graduate studies in 1982. I left Nigeria and – I like to make the point – and concentrated fully on school work. While I was abroad, my experience was broad. I got a chance to be an intern in the United States Congress, and as a graduate student I got many opportunities, but I left the United States the very day my Ph.D thesis was submitted, coming straight back to Nigeria. When I came back in 1982, I obviously had a lot of influence working on me from my American exposures. Like I said, I was an intern in the U.S. Congress and was actively engaged. I had worked with a U.S. senator who had gone on to become a vice president of the U.S. at the time when I was living there in the U.S. His name is Dan Quayle. I had views about how societies can be transformed while I studied and lived in the U.S. I was writing opinions pieces and column in Nigerian newspapers even while I still lived in the U.S. These were the days before emails and all of that. Materials were sent through fax machines. Some of my views on public policy issues were well known. So when I came back in late 1982, I continued expressing my views. Public officials were very much curious that time because that period was a more serious time than now. Then you had politicians that followed ideas and one of those that followed my ideas was the vice president of the country, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who then expressed some interest in me and gave me some work to do for him. And without my remotely even suggesting that I had interest in public office, he just casually told me that President ShehuShagari had approved for me to replace Professor Godwin Odenigwe. That was how public life came. Unfortunately, in the years since then, Nigeria has undergone a revolution in which merit has become a less of a serious criterion for anything, and so people go around lobbying, doing all kinds of things and we end up enthroning mediocre persons. It is sad but that is where we are.
During the wait for President MuhammaduBuhari’s ministerial list, many Nigerians envisaged – and even speculated – that you would play a vital role in this government given your affinity with the APC but you did not make the list; what happened?
I don’t know there was a need for my name to be on the ministerial list. I know there was the need to move Nigeria in a certain direction. But in this issue of insinuation what happened, what could have happened – very simply what happened was that, in the last few years, I had become frightened every new day about the direction Nigeria was traveling. On public policy issues, there were number of areas I had some very strong positions. One of the things that troubled me the most was how Nigeria’s leadership just seemed to be playing out the script of European philosophers like Hegel, Montesquieu, who had contempt for black people. He thought of blacks as people incapable of thinking or planning long-term for the future – people of this moment, just the same way Frederick Lugard reflected in some of his comments about us as just a party of the moment – people who don’t plan or think of tomorrow. So watching the trend and terrible direction Nigeria was travelling, I began to make suggestions that were concrete kinds of suggestions, not just frivolous criticisms, because I was most alarmed by the act of public spending in Nigeria, especially in the face of a significant dependence on oil as a source. So more than 10,15 years ago, I began to scream about the way we were spending money as the oil prices were going up. I suggested that Nigeria should realize that oil prices were volatile and that in 1998 oil prices were down to single digit, and that we should set a limit to what we put through distributable pool funds, that is, the FAAC account shared between levels of government, so that we can save. I suggested at a time that we save and put $40 per barrel into FAAC account because if we could survive on $9 a barrel in 1998, surely at $40 per barrel we are doing extremely well. So let us spend at the level of $40 per barrel and save between $40 and $70 per barrel in what is going to be called a stabilization fund. That fund will be available anytime oil prices drop below $40 per barrel; above $70 everything should go to the future fund. That is what the Saudis and co. are now drawing on. People are using it for long term investment. People are investing abroad, so that flows from that investment, those returns, can make up for the days oil is not going to be there and so on and so forth. For instance, the sovereign wealth fund, Malaysia requested that a percentage of that be invested in infrastructure in their country. There is also a moral issue, because a generation cannot spend the patrimony of a people without affecting future generations; that is, if we used the oil money as we have used it in Nigeria with such rascality, it meansthat children born four, five generations from now have had part of their patrimony taken away from them without any benefit to them for it. It is one moral economy in the economics that I know of; you don’t tax a generation that cannot get benefit from it. That is technically what we have done with oil money. So, Nigeria violated those laws, whether it is economic laws, moral laws or whatever law, with extreme irresponsibility with which those that ran Nigeria within the last 20 years have done. I kept talking about what to do. By two, three years ago, it became very clear to me that the government we had then could not go on the way it was going without doing a fundamental damage to Nigeria’s history. At that time, any normal person who had a brain would know that we were heading to the brink and I insisted that something was wrong and that we needed to change that kind of government. I had been working for other reasons for more than 10 years, trying to help build a united and vibrant opposition, because no democracy can thrive if there is only one party in power. The fear that you can lose the next election makes you to serve the people well. So I started from 2006 to work on that. Given the nature of our politicians, in 2007, we could not manage anything; they mismanaged the election of 2007. Global leaders, who came, said the process was fraudulent, that there no election in 2007. So, after that I continued to see how we can get a strong opposition. Then the late Chief Anthony Enahoro invited me to be part of the movement he was forming, called the Social Democratic Mega Movement. We worked very hard at it. By the time 2011 approached, all kinds of suggestions arose. Those kinds of suggestions led me to be a candidate again because I had no plan to be a candidate in 2011. After 2007, I wanted to rethink my contributions to Nigeria’s history. I have always argued that there are three partners to progress: the government, that is, the public sector, private sector and the so-called social enterprise sector or Private Development Agencies (PDAs). In 2007, Nigeria had no elections; anybody can say anything they like. I have the authority of all the global observers that came, that General Obasanjo prevented election from taking place in 2007; that was clear.
What really is it about the Class of 66?
So my view was that if the Class of 66 was going to prevent democracy in Nigeria, which is the short runway one can make contributions to history of the country that helps improving the human condition. I was in my transition on how working in both private sector and social enterprise sector can help make contributions that will impact passively on people’s lives when Chief Enahoro called me and said let us work on this. In the process, as active as we were, Chief Enahoro passed on and Chief OluFalae more or less took up the mantle, andone day he said to me,‘we need to create a political party given what is going on’. And he said to me,that since most people trust you, why don’t you be the chairman of the party. I was not around when the decision was made; I was out of the country. I said all right, this is citizen’s duty I am being called to. One day, Wale Okunniyi called me and said the group had decided that the way the thing will work is that people will have to collapse their parties and, may be, presidential candidates will have to come together and one steps down for the other, and that the party thought that someone like you had the skills to make that happen by becoming the party’s presidential candidate. That was how I became presidential candidate in 2011, and the whole idea was to coordinate the meeting of opposition presidential candidates. It happened and I was managing it in Abuja and we were meeting. But I remember (Ibrahim) Shekarau warned me that General MuhammaduBuhari would not be cooperative. Even though General Buhari came to the meeting the first and second meetings, I think, with Chief Tony Momoh who was the chairman of his party, with SuleHamman who was his leading advisor. I said to Shekarau, no, you people are being too unfair to this man andhad done everything within my own power to try and encourage General Buhari. I travelled to Kaduna on a number of occasions to meet with him. I was in fact in his company the night former President Yar ‘Adua died. We were chatting in his living room when the phone call came to him that president Yar’ Adua had died. So, in the end, last minute, even though my own game plan was to build that consensus and he was likely going to be the one to emerge, he failed to show up on the last day, torpedoing the work, whole of that effort. That upset me so much and I went ahead to endorse Shekarau instead. So that same passion to build a strong opposition party, expressed in the LEADERSHIP Annual Lecture that I gave in Abuja a few years before that on political parties, was the same that led to insisting on something being done in 2015 to bring the opposition together. One of those involved in this process and who was very reticent and somewhat lukewarm was the outgoing governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola AhmedTinubu. So I continued to say to him that we were not going to go anywhere if the opposition continued to be fractured and that it was up to him and Chief OluFalae to see how we could mend fences so that we could all move forward together. Now by 2014, he said to me that he was set on moving forward on that, so let’s go and see General Buhari. At that point I had to say candidly to him that I supported anything that would bring the opposition together, but that I had exhausted myself in going to see General Buhari, but that I was encouraging him to go and if he succeeded,I would support that, but I was not going to go and see General Buhari. So he went, he succeeded and the process went in the way we have all seen it. That did not mean in any way or shape that I was planning to play a role in the government. We continued to work to build the party. Thankfully the party was successful in the elections. There was never anytime I suggested any particular role I was looking for. What I wanted to achieve was an opposition replacing the incumbent, ruling party, because of what it meant for Nigeria for institution building and respectability as a democracy. So that was achieved and I was very satisfied. The next thing was, how do we move forward?And, in the process, Senator Bola Tinuburequested of a couple of us to develop the manifesto and roadmap for the party. I had good fortune of being active and, to be fair, the meetings took place in my house that produced that roadmap. And the principals involved in that process were the now vice president, Professor YemiOsinbajo, and one of the former commissioners in Lagos and me amongst others that made inputs. So it’s normal to assume that, with this kind of involvement, I will play a particular role, but the issue never came up and was never discussed.
Were you surprised and why was it not discussed?
It was not discussed because it was not part of the game plan. I was just looking for a better country. But I have a thesis for the Class of 66 which I have been trying to get people to understand. In 1966, a group of young Nigerian soldiers took Nigeria over. They have exercised full capture of the Nigerian state since 1966. Whenever they had problem of legitimacy, they allowed a transition that brought in a civilian they hoped they could control. They never successfully did but they hoped they could control, and the transition produced a Shagari presidency in 1979. When they saw that the Shagari presidency was going to transit to an Ekwueme presidency, they conducted a coup to prevent it from happening; that is the truth of the coup – it’s because they never wanted it. That was the coup that brought General Buhari to power; it was strictly to stop Dr. Alex Ekwueme from becoming president. Then they ran into a legitimacy problem again during Abacha and all of that. They rushed into this transition that brought in Obasanjo presidency which was one of them in continuation of that. Again something needed to happen; they patched in a Yar’Adua presidency with a Jonathan in tow. When they saw their control of Jonathan did not quite work out as they were hoping for, they started looking for all ways to come back to power. To understand what has happened to Nigeria is to understand the culture of the Class of 66. There is a thesis that determines human progress. One of the thesis argued that culture shapes human progress. At the level of incorporation, that is, business, the thesis by the erudite scholars posited that companies that last, last because of their values and corporate culture. At the level of the nation’s state, another set of scholars arrived at the conclusion that values are central and actually determine human progress. Economist who are institutionalists have also argued that institutions are more important than culture, but I think they are both important for progress. But it is interesting to understand that culture is significant to human progress. The culture of the Class of 66 is the culture of the hunter, that is, you shoot the game, animals, and you call your friends to join you to share and you chase off everybody who is not there. To them it has been about hunting, sharing and shopping. Nations are not built like that; they are built by farmers, people who plant and sow. So people who plant and build go out and look for people who can help them to build. What real leaders do is that they go looking for even their enemies to bring in so that they can build. Look at Donald Trump, after all the names that Trump was called, even Trump is busy talking with his worst enemies to try to bring them in to help him build the country . Whether you believe him or not, he is making that effort. Could be, like President Abraham Lincoln, he’s trying to build cabinet of rivals, but the Class of 66 does not have that psychology because they are not nation builders. The Class of 66 believes in share the gala share the booze, excluding anybody who does not hero-worship them. They believe that power is what Afolabi called ‘we have invited you to come and chop, so don’t talk; just come chop, don’t disturb yourself. But you cannot build the country like that. We can’t make progress with the mentality of the Class of 66. That is certain.
Nigerians are becoming impatient with the present government as the economic recession bites harder. Have Nigerians given this government a fair chance?
People are not stupid; they have basis for judging things. If you ask me, two weeks after the election, I told those who cared to listen to me that there will problem with petroleum receipts for Nigeria. A dear family friend, OtunbaTunjiLawalSolarin, a respected economists, former oil industry chieftain; he warned me against saying some things because it will definitely come to pass. You see, General Buhari’s body language in the very first two weeks of his election was provocative to the Niger Delta and, mind you, no army in the world has defeated a people who feel real injustice. Niger Delta could have been managed very easily after the defeat of former President Jonathan, very easily. But it would take leaders that understand leadership to handle the situation; to tell them,‘my dear brothers, this country belong to all of us; all of us count; Niger Delta counts; we know the contributions it is making to where we are as country; we will be maximally fair to everybody.’ Suggest to them that their brother didn’t do much for them because that is true Jonathan did very little in Niger Delta. Tell them to trust your government that things will be better. That is leadership but the first body language was that ‘I have an army that can crush everybody’. No army has ever been that successful, not even the U.S. Army managed to do it in Vietnam or any of these places. It was a wrong leadership signal and immediately I saw it, I told whoever cared to listen to me that we would be struggling to get our OPEC quota, and it’s happening. It is not genius; I am not brilliant – just simple logic. Why have I been involved in writing, organising programmes of teaching people to lead; that is not my original course of interest. I am an economic growth activist. That wrong leadership signal has been affecting crude oil sales, gas supply for electricity and all of that. If the Mahathir Mohamad approach was taken – open arms to pacify the people, to let them know that there was urgent need to build the nation, that the rascals had damaged it in the past, that the change we are talking about has come – we will better off. But you begin by saying ‘these people did not vote for me; I will not pay them any attention; I have an army that can crush all of them.’ You set yourself up for all sorts of problems.
You said, “Nigeria inflicted recession on itself through the bad behaviour of previous governments.” Is the present government showing any signs that its economic policies will produce a different result?
You can also use your own judgement to see if what we say we are doing has addressed the problems that brought us to this stage. Yes the recession is self-inflicted due to the failure to do things we were expected to do in the past and even in terms of policy choices we have made since this government came in. By the time petroleum prices were going down in the beginning of this government, exchange rate responds to the ability to service your foreign due payments and that time the purchasing power parity began to diverge from the nominal exchange rate, but the difference was marginal, not more than six percent. At a point, let’s say September last year when we started discussing these issues, if at that time government remained with a managed floating exchange rate, borrowed small money, allowed the exchange rate to be sliding so that people will not be using foreign exchange irresponsibly,we would have kept confidence in the market. When you keep confidence in the market, money that was supposed to come in will come in, the one that will stay; but what happened was that the signalling that was given was that we were going to insist on this exchange rate that was not reflective of the market. People could have brought in their money, kept their money back,but those that had their money inside began to rush their money out and the current account deficit became wider and drove the country into recession.
If you were the president, what three possible solutions would you have adopted to tackle the prevailing economic hardship in Nigeria?
First of all, Nigeria needs to produce. We have been talking about diversification for a long time but I don’t even see, beyond speeches, activities showing that we are trying to get people to get back to producing. There is no massive creative opportunity given to people to produce. You create obsession for production and we will produce our way out of recession. All kinds of ideas that I have expressed on how agriculture can become psychedelic again have not been followed. Tell every state, bring out 10,000 hectares, put farm management boost in the middle; every able-bodied young person that is entrepreneurial, that wants to do farming, here is one hectare of land for you to plant;here are processing zones for the yields based on the endowment of each region and value-chains that you can build for those – and you will put hundreds of thousands of people to work. You need an army; you take the NYSC and others and drill them into managers of these programmes. You have to have leaders that are every day communicating with the people – ‘this where we are going; this is what you must be doing’. Everybody has to be like a coach cheering its people on but here we don’t know what is going on. AsoRock is as distant from Nigerian people as heaven is from hell. We don’t know what is going on; everybody is wondering where Nigeria is going. That is not how to get people out of such situation as we are now in Nigeria.
President Buhari has said the 2017 budget will get Nigeria out of recession. Is this a statement that should be taken seriously?
It depends on what he intends to do with it. It is best to suspend judgement, watch it and see how it happens.
What do you expect the 2017 budget to address?
I don’t know yet what is in 2017 budget and can’t say what it will address, If you check, I have not commented on budget process in this country for more than 15, 20 years because I came to the conclusion many years ago that budget process in Nigeria is not a serious process because it was just done as a public relations stuff; because nobody really follows the budget. So I stopped talking about budgets.
From your experience as a development economist, can you share with us examples of other developing countries that have been here and what they did to get out of recession?
Yes, all over the world, and everybody is mouthing it here, technically you spend your way out of recession, but not just spending by throwing money around; there is a way you spend out of recession. There is a way you spend and get into deeper crisis and increase your debt burden without stimulating economic activities. In fact, this was exactly the kind of problem we had in the early 80s that led us into the structural logjam we were in, in the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). If you recall, when the contraption began to come the way of Singapore after years of massive growth, the government of Singapore had to get into the mode of additional spending on infrastructure and all that. And you may have to look at a country like Vietnam that came out of a terrible war. What did they do? Look at power, power has completely become an embarrassment in Nigeria and they keep giving excuses. Paramos focused on the Philippines power problem and fixed it. There are badges all over the world with power generating plants that can easily help us increase our power generation capacity. We have to tweak the laws very quickly and decentralize power but the problem is that people in government still see the situation as an opportunity to make money out of the problem. So the country’s power sector has remained a Tower of Babel; we are not solving any problem. Some people seem to enjoy the misery of Nigerian people, which is very tragic. I don’t understand it.
Do you share the view that the president needs an economic management team?
Those are small matters there are economic teams everywhere. That is not the issue, the issue is more fundamental. Nigeria needs leadership. Period.
Emir MuhammaduSanusiII has been critical of the government’s monetary policy, especially its management of the exchange rate. Do you agree with him?
I share some of his views. Yes I share some of his views on government monetary policy issue.
In his recent autobiography, Tony Anenih accused MKO Abiola of negotiating with Abacha behind the back of the SDP. You were an actor of some sort at the time; what happened?
I have not read Chief Anenih’s book and I don’t want to quote it out of context. You know, people suggest things in situation of flaws. Sometimes people will say if your cow is running away, it’s better to cut off the tail and hold the tail rather than lose the whole cow. So there are all kinds of tales in those kinds of situations. Well, certainly there were many people who wanted Chief Abiola to engage General Abacha to see how they could watch things out. Obviously he did meet with him. The tales are matters of interpretation for different people. But that, for me, was not what the real big issue was. I recall that I was really active, leading opposition to the annulment of the election and all of that. I was a member of concerned professionals which, truly speaking, came out of my efforts, who opposed the annulment. I recalled I was out of the country, travelling in Central Europe. I had just been to Bulgaria, Yugoslavia – they were having war then – and arrived in Frankfurt in Germany and turned on the television to hear that Chief Abiola had left the country and I saw it again in an interview with CNN and called his home in London – because I had the number of his London home – but he was not home. But as I was going to sleep about 1am, my phone rang in my hotel room in Frankfurt and it was Chief Abiola, and I nicely told him I understand how terrible things were but I wished he didn’t leave the country, but that without provoking anybody, he could just do a thank- you tour around the country, not saying he was taking over but just to thank people for voting for him. Chief Abiola said to me – and he was quite right – in his normal way of using proverb that you don’t stand on the way of a moving train; that one ran away to be alive to fight another day. But there were many mistakes made. He found out that many people around him were not with him; that they were not loyal; that many of his close aides were already selling out, so he had the rug pulled from under his feet.
Would you say the Centre for Values in Leadership is creating the impact that you desire?
It is not my place to judge; it is for others to judge. With no resources at all, we are doing the things we are doing. I think it is a miracle that we have been able to accomplish as much as have done.
What’s your view on the plan of the Buhari-led government with regard to the $30 billion loan?
Loan on its own does not mean anything; a loan is about what you do with it. Just talking about $30 billion is not fair; you need the detailed plan of what to do with it; how does it then stimulate the kind of economic growth that will push you out of contraction?
How would you assess the government’s anti-corruption war?
I think that corruption is such a terrible thing. It has done Nigeria so much damage that, sometimes when I hear some comments, I think we are not being fair. It was a truly important thing to have war against corruption. But is it being prosecuted in the best ways? Are there any better ways? After evaluating the Buhari presidency for a while, I think God’s purpose is for him to just come and be a transition person that disrupts this corruption thing and get a new leadership that can focus the country on the path of progress.
The power sector appears mired in controversies over funding, debt recovery, capacity, pricing and so on. What is the way out?
The problem of power is simply that the Nigerian elite is so unpatriotic, so unpatriotic that it will not put away self interest to give the country something so fundamental as progress, all of them still pushing their interest. Power is not rocket science. The laws are wrong; the actors are all pursuing self interest. This is a national emergency; let’s focus and solve this problem.
What keeps you awake at night?
What keeps me at night is paying school fees. I need to pay school fees (laughs). Truly, nothing keeps me awake at night. I’m tired about many things. I wish the country was better. I travel a lot and I speak all over the world. Each time I come to countries that were villages when I first visited them 30 years ago and they are now shining stars, I become sad. What the Nigerian elite cannot explain is, how come these other countries we were ahead of, these Asian countries – South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, resource-poor countries, making more progress than resource-rich countries. We had a huge oil boom in this country, but Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai engaged in transformation and moving forward, while oil producing country Nigeria was going backward, what is the explanation now? Unless you understand this thing, like I said,the problem of Nigeria came from the Class of 1966, because they are not nation builders. They keep taking about how they fought the civil war to unite Nigeria, but in their policy action as leaders, they have done everything to disunite Nigeria. That is why Nigeria is lying prostrate; it has not had leaders for nearly half a century.