Nigeria Needs Radical Change in Political Leadership - Moghalu

Prof. Kingsley Moghalu speaking at a town hall meeting on April 5, 2018 in Washington DC.
11 March 2018

Prof Kingsley Moghalu was a former deputy director in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He has however declared his intention to contest the 2019 presidential election. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, Moghalu, who is also the president of Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation speaks on the economy, insecurity and other national issues

You recently declared intentions to contest the 2019 presidential election, what informed that decision?

I feel depressed about the poverty in Nigeria, the level of suffering of the Nigerian people. Nearly 100m Nigerians live on N300 per day. While a few individuals are extremely wealthy, the masses, the generality of people, are poor. This is not an inclusive society. That is the primary motivation I have to contest the presidency, to work with a team. I consider Nigeria a broken country and it is approaching the level of a failed state. This country is insecure and there is too much ethnic and religious issues that separate us instead of uniting us. Nigeria has 180m people. We have educated people who do very well abroad meanwhile, here at home, we do badly because we have the wrong kinds of leaders, because our leadership selection system is wrong. So it generates people who perpetuate a cycle of poverty. I think Nigeria needs a radically different political leadership if we are to secure the future of our youths and children. Based on the trajectory that is being followed, it's not a country to where anyone would want for their children.

Many aspirants have raised similar concerns and made promises in the past and we expect to hear more in the run up to the general elections. What will make your promises different?

The reason I will be different from others is because, many people don't understand what leadership means in Nigeria. Leadership is about the ability to have a vision and to mobilize citizens to follow that vision or any organization that one is the leader, to achieve greater outcome. Leadership is not just about the vision but to inspire and mobilize. We have a lot of politicians in this country, but few leaders. So, a leader must understand that you cannot take it for granted that everybody wants the progress of Nigeria. We confuse politics for leadership. Politics and leadership are not the same thing. We have taken politics as a means to an end, whereby politics has become an end in itself.

Religion and ethnicity play a big role in our politics, and the two major parties have zoned the presidency to the North, how do you hope to overcome that, being an aspirant from the South?

Let me give you an example, if you are a shareholder in a company, how will you vote for the selection of chairman in that company, you will look for the person who can make profit, the person that can make the company to grow. Why should this be different for a country like Nigeria? Why is it that if you want to select a leader for Nigeria, you will be looking at religion or ethnicity which has often thrown up people that are not so competent? That is the reason why we are poor. We should be looking for competence. Nigeria needs a competent leader. It's the turn of a competent leader who has a vision to turn Nigeria around to lead us. That way, every Nigerian benefits irrespective of religion. So, it's a win-win situation for Nigerians to select their president based on competence, not ethnicity or religion.

Other factors that play a big role in our election include money and godfathers, do you have such?

Money is necessary and I don't have a godfather. God is my father. When people are selected by godfathers, immediately they get to office, paying back the godfather becomes their number one priority. I want to address this with another example. In the normal Nigerian investment plan, the politician invests money to buy votes and once they get into power, their number priority is their return on investment, and that is money that belongs to you and I. To start with, the money they invest is mostly public money which they got corruptly. I am asking Nigerians to invest in me to become that president whom, if every Nigeria invests in, they will own the result of the investment which is my government...

Is Nigeria ready for that?

Do they want to remain slaves to the corrupt and unscrupulous politicians that have held Nigeria in hostage for decade or they want to be free and have good jobs for their children and education for their children? The choice is for the Nigeria citizen to make. The model that I am proposing is a different one from the ones Nigerians are used to. Politicians require money, even if its for logistics. So it is because of those logistics that I am asking the people to invest by supporting this movement. I am not your average daily politicians. I have a Ghana must go bag that is full of ideas, not money. And it is targeted at how Nigeria can be a better place for all of us. But whatever decisions our people make, they should take responsibility for their actions. If they don't elect people like me into position, it means they don't want progress.

You mentioned Dapchi, are you contented with the way the federal government is handling the issue?

The government is very weak in terms of its ability to assert authority. There are many reasons to this, one is that the government's definition of security is very narrow. They think national security is about fighting boko haram, but it is more than that, it is all encompassing. People should be able to go to sleep with their eyes closed. We don't need to live in guarded cages and behind metal barriers. It makes life suffocating. Parents don't let their kids go outside and play. The first thing my government will do is to take a comprehensive review of the security threat that face Nigeria. We will meet it with a number of solutions. We need to talk about the nature of the Nigeria police. They need to be equipped, strengthened and trained. There are about 150 police men in a country of 180m. How can the country be secure? We need about a million and five minimum policemen and they should be well trained so that they can effectively meet up the security challenges. What is happening because of the failure of our police force is the militarization of Nigeria. You see guns everywhere and so everybody is afraid. We will work with international partners and alliance to tackle security threat that comes from outside Nigeria and that is where my connection in the world of economy comes in. State police is important because when you centralise the command of the police in a large country, they cannot be effective. The police should be decentralised with commands under state authorities but constitutionally, we must create an overriding clause in case any state decides to use state police to challenge the sovereignty of Nigeria, that should never be allowed. All we need is clever lawyers putting in the necessary clauses together that will give the states and regions the opportunity to defend their people. I support restructuring for national and economic stability. The economy has failed because everybody is depending on crude oil receipts. All the states go to Abuja monthly to collect allocation. Only six states are fiscally viable.

What do you think are your chances of winning the presidency?

My chances are very high because many Nigerians today are deeply dissatisfied with the condition of the country and they are looking for something new and different. The vision I share with the members of my movement is one that answers the need of Nigerians. That is why my chances are brighter than most others.

Most people would have thought that you would start off your elective political career from the governorship or senatorial levels before seeking the presidency. What informed your decision to take on the contest for the presidency?

Because that is the level of my vision and experience, I believe I can deliver on that vision. My vision covers from Adamawa to Kano, from Calabar to Nnewi. Whey should I have that vision and limit it to state governor or senatorial district? I am concern about Nigeria. If you look at my track record, I have vast experience at senior leadership level whether in Nigeria or outside. There is no law that says, we must start politics from the local government or councilorship level. In the United States, Donald Trump, became president without being a counselor or governor.

Going back to the CBN, the apex bank seems to be having problems with monetary policy issue, where is this government missing it?

This government has not been able to put the right people in place to manage the monetary policies. The CBN is also not independent unlike other developed countries. You can appoint members of your party to head other parastatals or boards but the CBN needs a professional. If you use the CBN for patronage, the economy becomes weak, that is why our economy is weak. The initial response to the low crude oil price and forex is what ruined our economy today. Because there is scarcity of forex, manufacturers could not produce, and that is why the recession came. Because of this scarcity of forex, people created an empire of corruption. People get forex and go out there and sell it at exorbitant rates. It is not just the CBN, there are so many other institutions today which are serving the interest of individuals not the state.

What will it take for government to reflate the economy?

Several things but the first thing in my presidency is that we will have a very clear definition and philosophy. Every other thing will follow from that philosophy. The IMF recently said Nigeria's economy is not managed on any policy basis. There is a lot of inconsistency. The government that I head will create a N500bn public-private venture capital fund that will stimulate the economy by investing in unemployed people which in turn, will galvanize the economy. That is how the inclusive wealth of nations is created.

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