The foremost public affairs analyst and political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, has described the recession that has left the Nigerian economy almost prostrate as one induced by the policies of government. Speaking at the 2nd edition of the Tunji Braithwaite Symposium which held in Lagos on Friday, Utomi said since the civil war raged between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria has never been as divided as it has become in the last one year.

Utomi, who acted as moderator of the symposium titled Nigeria in Crisis: The Imperative of a New Social Order, said the federal government appears unwilling to engage in a meaningful discourse that can get the country out of the current crisis.

Keynote speaker at the event, Prof. Abubakar Momoh, said Nigeria is in crisis because diversifying the economy and steering it away from its current overdependence on crude oil has become a slogan totally devoid of meaningful thinking or action on the part of the government.

“Nigeria lacks a political class; we only have the political elite now. Chief Obafemi Awolowo is a prime example of the political class, he never attended social events but was always in his study. He wrote his books himself but Nigerian leaders of today get people to write book for them to launch. Nigeria must understand there is a crisis and be aware of the root causes of it for us to talk about getting out of it,” Momoh submitted.

Speaking further, he said: “A country discussing polio eradication, ethnicity, how to construct roads and such other basic issues is not ready for development and cannot be said to be living in the terms of the 21st century. You bring indignity and dehumanisation to your university graduates through YouWIN, NAPEP and others like that then call it development projects.”

The symposium, which had notable Nigerians like foremost NADECO chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; prominent environmental activist, Annkio Briggs and former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife as discussants, was the first since the death of popular activist and former presidential candidate, Dr Tunji Braithwaite.

The Tunji Braithwaite Foundation, which organised the event, hopes to keep the symposium going annually in honour of the late social critic. Others in attendance include Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, Prof. Adebayo Williams and Reverend Moses Iloh.