One fateful afternoon death came knocking. Prof. Pat Utomi was returning home to Igbuzo Delta State, and was already within sight of his town when his driver crashed unto a stationary trailer. Another truck had been following behind and further rammed them under, burying them effectively below the articulated vehicle. In the agenda of his life, God had only featured in the AOB column and with his busy schedule, that column was rarely considered as he was constantly held captive to the pursuit of success.
He also recalls that during the civil war, as a young man, he had been lined up for execution in the infamous Asaba blood-on-the-Niger massacre, but God miraculously brought a Colonel of the Nigerian army that recognized him, pulled him out from the firing line and drove him away to safety. Yet all these were not enough to make God the number one in his life. The pursuit of success held its allure.
Leaving the University of Nigeria in flying colours, he had proceeded to the graduate school in the United States and within two and half years, returned to Nigeria with two master’s degrees and a Ph.D at age 26. He was described as “a pathological workaholic and a compulsive over-achiever” by his professors and his academic laurels spoke to it. At a very young age his portfolio was already bursting at its seams with binders of achievements and life was a roller-coaster.
Upon his return to Nigeria, Prof. Pat Utomi easily became an instant celebrity. He was offered appointment as the Special Adviser to President Shehu Shagari – the youngest man ever to hold such a position till date. He was to later rise to become Group Managing Director of Volkswagen Nigeria at age 32.
With the crash, he knew death had come and what came to him, was the various pledges he had made to keep faith with God, which he never kept. While drawing his fleeting breath, he asked God for forgiveness and made to stagger out from the wreck through the shattered back window and suddenly he blanked out.
In the melee some good Samaritans who had seen the incident attempted a rescue, pulled him and his diver out and rushed them nearest to the hospital in Onitsha. In the hospital, the Doctor pronounced him clinically dead. But the Doctor decided to fulfil all righteousness by attempting an auto-transfusion, using some improvised materials to jump-cable blood to the heart. By golly it worked. Less than an hour later, life came over him, but his driver was not as lucky. He had passed on at the accident scene. For Utomi, the Onitsha Doctor represents the immense capacity of our health care personnel to perform miracles if only they could be given the necessary support and environment.
Prof Utomi was to be flown to Germany, but he is always quick to acknowledge that the real work, was done by God in the Onitsha hospital, through the Doctor in a remote nondescript corner of that town.
While in Onitsha, friends from the Lagos Chapter of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, like Shyngle Wigwe, former GM of NTA, had been praying. They also visited to pray with him to in the hospital during which period they had dropped a Bible with him which he also took along to Germany. He spent time reading the Bible during his convalescence.
Upon recovery and return to Nigeria, he has remained ever grateful to God and committed to work to make Nigeria better. He realized that the true measure of a man is not in the abundance of his possessions. That while we pursue wealth and success, we must give first place to God who owns the breath in our lungs.
Today, he is in the forefront of the advocacies for people-centred policies in governance. He also runs programmes that affect the values of the young to emphasize things that matter most in life in a nation where money seems to be everything.
This has not been without its perils. There have been several attempts on his life both from within and without. Two of the most outstanding ones include the plan by the Abacha government to eliminate him following a widely circulated article he wrote condemning the annulment of the June 12 elections. Prof. Utomi had been at the Full Gospel World Convention in Boston when the news of the annulment broke out. A certain Ugandan had called him and asked, “why is it that you Nigerians always pull us back, whenever we want make progress in Africa?”.
The article inspired the formation of the “Association of Concerned Professionals.” He became a marked man and there were several failed attempts by the snipers to mow him down. The evening of the night which was meant to be the deadline given to his assassins to nail him, was the evening he was leaving Nigeria for a year’s sabbatical as a scholar in residence in Harvard. He had left the grim reaper behind by the mercies and salvation of God. They were to later reveal that they had trailed him and his family to and from church all day that Sunday, waiting for nightfall but suddenly he was nowhere to be found.
He also recalls the London Railway Bombing of 2007. The teenage boy that blew up the train had passed Utomi, hitched with his backpack of explosive device. He was still making his way through the crowded concourse when he heard the loud bang. God again had saved his life. Indeed, we see the fulfilment of God’s word that even our hairs have been numbered (Luke 12:7) and not a single strand would fall off without his knowledge.
Prof. Utomi now gives all the glory to God now. He recalls how God took him; a person who had gone to the University with no plan to graduate and made him into a world-class scholar. For him, these events testify to God’s sovereignty in the lives of men. God, he acknowledges, is a long distance planner. He is God of the second chance also – not willing that any one should perish but that all should come to repentance and receive Him.
Indeed, what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his soul. Mark 8:36.
For indeed, “…God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.
This same God that worked in Pat Utomi, is available today and now and if you are willing to receive Him right now, all you need do is his simple prayer:
I recognize I have sinned and strayed from You.
I return to You now
I make a firm commitment to serve You
for the rest of my life.
Thank You for saving me in Jesus name. Amen.
If you said this prayer, inbox me on messenger, or email on firstname.lastname@example.org so I can send you free materials for help.
God bless you.
Prof. Pat Utomi shared this story in a meeting of the FGBMFI-Nigeria in Abuja.
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