As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to grapple with it’s economy severely impacted by global cuts in hydrocarbon demands following growing Covid-19 pandemic, the Executive Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil Companies in Nigeria, Barr. Udom Inoyo has advised the country against the attitude of eating the yam with the head.

Delivering his keynote address during the 2020 St. Patrick’s feast day dinner and awards organized in Uyo by Alumni of the prestigious St. Patrick’s College, Calabar, Barr. Udom Inoyo cautioned against Nigeria’s over-dependence on crude oil, without properly harnessing the fortunes derived therefrom to drive income-generating investments, infrastructure growth, human capacity development and economic diversification.

He spoke on the need to review downwards our consumption lifestyles as individuals and as a nation, if we must remain afloat at critical times like this.

“Our experiences with crude oil prices and associated geo-politics advise against our attitude of eating the yam with the head, thus leaving nothing for replanting. Now that the price of crude oil has so badly fallen and we are forced to review our budget fundamentals, what sectors of the economy should we review downwards?

“For me, wisdom advises that we cut on consumption and leverage on income-generating investments and provision of infrastructure that will keep existing factories running while attracting new ones. We should look more inward for local direct investments from resourceful entrepreneurs.”

In the light of recent trends around the globe, Barr. Inoyo, who himself is a 1976 alumnus of St. Patrick’s College, Calabar, noted that while the world at large is battling coronavirus, back home in Nigeria in the last few days, we have had two viruses threatening our collective existence. He hinted that both viruses are capable of maiming the country and figuratively stated that unlike coronavirus, these viruses cannot be killed by mere washing of hands with water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

“The first has to do with our national budget and dependence on the price of crude oil. As you know, our economy is still largely dependent on crude oil, a commodity we do not have market control of. With a 2020 budget set at $57 per barrel of crude, you will appreciate the impact on the economy now that crude oil is selling at $29 per barrel. Without discipline and efficient management of our resources, and especially an aggressive diversification of the economy, we will continue to be a wobbling state. As we faithfully pray for quick recovery and stabilization of the price of crude oil, let us also work hard to eradicate this virus which is caused by our profligacy.

“The second, which I call the Sanusivirus, should normally not bother us. So, while it is understandable that majority of us gave a passing attention to the chieftaincy arrangements in Kano State impacting two sibblings, we should nevertheless be worried about two issues. The first for me is the disdain with which we sometimes treat some of our best brains, and the second, the politicization of very serious issues afflicting the nation. But more importantly, the issues he has been advocating are so germane to the resolution of the development crises in Nigeria, especially in the North, that we cannot kill the message by destroying the messenger. Sanusi has repeatedly challenged the northern leaders – political, religious and traditional – to do something immediately about the Almajiri crises, the state of education, abject poverty and of course, the general insecurity that has enveloped that region.”

Presenting his keynote address tagged, ‘Insurgency (Boko Haram) in Nigeria as it Hinders the Economy and Development of Nigeria’, the corporate chief stressed that there is a connecting rod between insurgency and out-of-school children. He also noted a nexus between insurgency and unemployment. This is so because both situations, out-of-school children and unemployment, provide the recruitment ground for insurgent fighters.

He submitted that though 8 million of Nigeria’s 16 million out-of-school children, according to UNICEF, are in 10 states in Northern Nigeria, the South should not think that insurgency is a northern problem and go to sleep without redressing the growing number of children (our own Almajiris) running the streets and hawking at traffic lights during school hours.

In his remarks, the Chairman, St. Patrick’s College, Calabar Alumni Association, Uyo Branch, Mr. Sylvester Akpan applauded the sustained contributions of the old students over the years and congratulated them as they join the rest of the world in marking St. Patrick’s Day. He particularly commended patriarchs of the association like its National President who doubles as the Paramount Ruler of Eket Local Government Area, His Royal Majesty, Obong E. C. D. Abia, FCA; Mr. Pius Obot of the 1958 Class and appreciated the host of the 2020 St. Patrick’s Feast/Lecture, Obong Umana Okon Umana and spouse. Obong Umana Okon Umana is an erstwhile Secretary to Akwa Ibom State Government and presently sits at the helm as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) in Nigeria.

Mr. Sylvester Akpan also called for the contributions of all and sundry to enable the Uyo branch of the association erect a befitting Secretariat in the metropolis for its operations.

Other notable Patricians who graced the occasion included Retired Justice Dennis Okon; former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof. Imo Ukpong, former Rector of Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Otuekong Edi Etim; renowned communication scholar and erstwhile Media Adviser to Governor Victor Attah, Dr. Udeme Nana, and a host of other high-profile individuals from different walks of life.

Highlights of the 2020 St. Patrick’s Feast Dinner/Lecture included presentation of awards, honour roll, dinner, lecture, music, comedy and the gracious chanting of St. Patrick’s College Anthem by the old students.

The feast/lecture was preceded by a well-attended Mass held at St. Joseph’s Parish of the Catholic Church, Anua and was conducted by the Parsh Priest who doubles as the Dean, Anua Deanary, Uyo Diocese, Very Reverend Father (Dr.) Michael Idobo.

Both ceremonies afforded the old students of St. Patrick’s College, Calabar a refreshing moment of reunion, relief, reintegration and rejuvenation.

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