Prof. Pat Utomi has said that he abandoned a N200m project he embarked on after a sitting governor seemingly demanded bribe from him.
Prof. Utomi stated this in a chat with Daily Sun in which the political economist said he would rather travel abroad to deliver lectures, and garner significant earnings in speaking fees than lobbying for government contracts, and engage in bribery and corruption.
“Corruption is a very terrible scourge. To deal with it is very important. But I think that it should not be seen as the only thing. My friend, Bismark Rewane used to say better a little corrupt and competent than incompetent and a saint. I think corruption is terrible.
“I have written about it all my career. I make a personal boast that nobody can come forward and say I have ever asked for bribe in my life, no matter the position, I have ever occupied. It is not because I am a saint, but because I know that I do more damage to the system, when I accept bribe.
“Just like I have never asked anybody for a bribe. I will feel there is something wrong if somebody asks me for one.
“I have a project that I have abandoned. N200million is sitting on it. It is abandoned just because it seems one state governor wants me to give him a bribe, I will not. After eight years, I will return to the project.
“People need to have some principle. That is the point I was making. Okay. I am ready to stay poor, if that is the meaning. Go and check, how many government contracts, I do. Instead, I will fly to wherever in the world and give a speech or two and earn 20,000 dollars and come back, instead of going about bribing people.
“So, corruption is terrible. It needs to be fought. But it is not just catch a thief. It is about systems. We have to have systems that make it difficult to be corrupt. It is those kind of things that we need to be working on.
“You see Americans. British, Austrialians. They are not created less corrupt than Nigerians. It is institutions.
“Why is that when you get to the airport in the evening, Nigerians are breaking down at the airport; doing all kind of terrible things, climbing on each other giving customs bribe. Same guys would enter the aero plane, six hours later, they land in London, everybody behave themselves,” Prof. Utomi explained.