Prof. Kingsley Moghalu is an economist and former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Contesting the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the Young Progressives Party, he told Eric Dumo his plans for the country if voted into office.
Below is the submission of Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, in an interview Mr Eric Dumo of the Punch Newspaper. Read the interview below.
Without proper political experience, how do you hope to run a complex society like Nigeria if eventually elected into power?
I believe I have more than enough experience to run Nigeria successfully. A lot of people have been running Nigeria with very little success because they confuse politics with leadership. So, they are very good at playing the politics to get into leadership; but they don’t have the leadership ability to govern Nigeria well.
I have been prepared in a different way, in a way that answers to the problems of Nigeria. Nigeria has very serious problems; I have garnered a lot of experience in nation building in the United Nations where I served for 17 years – from the entry level to the highest career rank in the organisation. So, when you talk about political experience, I have global political experience including with developing nations such as Nigeria, and if I have helped fix those kinds of countries, there is no reason why I can’t make a contribution to fixing my own country. I am in fact a nation builder.
In terms of economic management, which is Nigeria’s second greatest problem, my experience in the leadership roles I have handled speaks to that challenge. I have been a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; I have been a professor of International Business and Economic Policy, a policy maker in the economy, an economic thinker. We don’t have economic thinkers in this country and that is one of the reasons why our economy is not well managed. If you read my book: Emerging Africa, you will see an A-Z roadmap to economic transformation in African countries including Nigeria.
Thirdly, I have a lot of diplomatic experience because that’s one of the challenges of Nigeria. I have very vast global networks and connections that can only be to the benefit of our country if I become president. I am the most prepared presidential candidate in this 2019 race. A lot of people confuse themselves thinking that if you have not been involved in the corruption that passes for politics in Nigeria, you are not “experienced”. That is not the kind of experience Nigeria needs now; because all the people that have that “experience” and have been ruling our country, what has been the result?
Unemployment and poverty rates have increased, the country is insecure and destabilised. We should change the narrative. I want my country men and women to understand that the era of recycled politicians needs to come to an end if the country must move forward. This country must be led by technocrats who know how to solve practical problems for it to witness growth. This is where I come and that is why I said I’m the most prepared.
You recently declared your intention to run for the presidency on the platform of the Young Progressive Party, how do you hope to achieve this target with a party that has no structure at the grassroots like the Peoples Democratic Party and All Progressives Congress?
I made a decision when I decided to contest for the office of the president; I decided that I will not do so on the platform of tired old systems of tired corrupt politicians. That is what the platform of the APC and PDP represents. Just look at the ward congresses the APC held across the country; look at the massive failure they turned out to be. Are we so attached to failure that we have to criticise someone for refusing to be part of a system that is a failure? Why would someone look at my choice and say that because I’m not APC or PDP, that I can’t go far? What has the APC or PDP delivered to Nigerians? Why don’t we critically ask ourselves questions? We just take what the politicians want us to believe because it serves their own purpose. The politicians want us to believe that we have no other alternative but them. People like us who are courageous enough and have enough insights know that it is not so.
Now in terms of the YPP, it is present in all the 36 states of the federation. The structures of the APC and PDP were built by human beings, so the YPP is being built by human beings. Those structures will match the APC polling unit for polling unit, ward for ward, local government for local government, state for state.
Considering the time left before the 2019 general elections, do you think your party can mobilise enough supporters to swing votes in your favour?
Yes, the time left is enough to do that. Today’s world is not yesterday’s world. We live in a world of technology. A lot of things are easier to do now and in new ways than was the case. This is a new era and that is what our old politicians don’t understand. They keep thinking that the old paradigm is permanent and forever. It isn’t. This is precisely the reason why a sitting president was defeated in Nigeria; and also why the government that took over in 2015 will fail in 2019 because they have failed in fulfilling their promises.
Though they may look like Goliaths for now to those who will feel intimidated by them, I will be the David that will bring them down. The political establishment, the recycled political class, is the enemy of the Nigerian people. We must achieve this common understanding and stop allowing ourselves to be intimidated into thinking that it cannot be done. We can do it. It is possible. As I go round the country talking to people in the grassroots, they are gradually believing that it is possible.
If the recycled politicians have been deceiving Nigerians with various promises, what plans do you then have for Nigeria if elected into office?
It is a different paradigm, a paradigm that will take care of the fundamentals first, educational systems, investment in human capital and skills that will prepare them to create jobs for themselves. Establishing a national world view for Nigerians that we can focus around rather than focusing on ethnic differences and cultural differences. That is the type of leadership Nigeria needs. It is different from the pedestal promises like I will build you roads, pay salaries – that is a deceit that the political class has used to keep the masses hostage. We want to change this paradigm.
We need to educate our people politically on what democracy means and what the dividends of democracy are and what their expectations should be of their leadership and their leaders. We have a lot of politicians but no leaders. That is the problem. So, I am bringing leadership not just politics, to the table.
Nigeria is yet to recover from a brutal economic recession, going by your experience in this area, what specific measures would you be taking to revitalise our economy?
I am going to reposition the Nigerian economy fundamentally because I understand the philosophy of economic capitalism. Our present rulers don’t understand that for you to run a capitalist economy, you need to know the secret of what makes a capitalist economy successful. Our political leaders in Nigeria don’t have that level of intellect and they are not interested in being educated in it. You need property rights, you need innovation and capital.
I will reposition the economy to become an innovation-driven economy and I will inject real capital into it through the creation of the venture capital funding that will begin to fund small businesses. So, you will co-own the business with the funding. If you do very well in your business, you can buy out the funds investment with the venture. These are the kinds of ideas that I am going to bring to the economy. We are going to make the economy creative and remove dependence on oil.
Insecurity is at alarming levels at the moment, what measures will you adopt to tackle this problem if given the people’s mandate in 2019?
I will make sure that the security agencies collaborate with themselves. Right now, they are at war with each other. I am going to reform the Police by recruiting around two million policemen and women that will be equipped and well trained to do modern policing that will secure our communities. I am going to reform the security of our borders more effectively; borders with Benin Republic, Chad and Cameroon. That is going to be a very important component of our security reform.
We currently run a system where more than half of the annual budget goes into recurrent expenditure, if elected into office, how do you hope to redress this?
Within two years of being elected into office, I am going to reposition Nigeria’s budget with a balance of 50-50 between capital expenditure and recurrent expenditure. We are going to reposition the federal civil service in a manner that it consumes less resources. We have the blueprint already, just waiting for the time to implement this.
It is common for Nigerian politicians to over-promise before elections and then under-deliver after then, how are we sure you won’t be one of such?
These things happen because the politicians have no vision. I have a vision for Nigeria, what I am giving you is not a promise, I am giving you a plan to execute the vision, that is different from a politician standing on a podium to tell you that he will give you all the roads and electricity which they can never deliver. My vision will address fundamental issues first, so that whatever development we bring will be sustainable.
Building all the roads in Nigeria with all the level of corruption in the country and millions of youths unemployed; what good does that do? It is when you train the youths and allow them to create their own wealth that you are creating a sustainable society.
Over the years, successive administrations have talked about fighting corruption without much success; do you have a special strategy to tackle this if elected into office?
My government will fight corruption in the real sense by providing good governance. Making a song and dance when you are just prosecuting political enemies is not fighting corruption. The fight against corruption will begin in my own government. The fundamentals, the value system of the society must be repositioned for you to fight corruption successfully. The teaching of ethics from the primary level to the secondary school level and tertiary must be done so that there will be a new generation of Nigerians not as corrupt as the old generation.
We will also ensure accountability in acts of corruption in an impartial manner. Anybody that is found in acts of corruption will be punished. The fight against corruption is failing under this administration because they are not really serious about it. They are more interested in using the fight against corruption to demonise and delegitimise political opponents and that is why they are not getting anywhere. Already, everybody can see that there is a lot of corruption in this government as well.
You are one of those who talk a lot about restructuring; do you think this will bring a lasting solution to our problems as a society?
Constitutional restructuring will help Nigeria to fulfill its potential. The current structure is not working because the political leaders in Nigeria are lazy. When you restructure Nigeria and place responsibilities on those leaders at the more subnational levels to generate their own revenues, they will sit up when they know they will pay a tax from those revenues to the Federal Government. That is the way it should be.
So, restructuring will be very good for Nigeria’s economy and it should be done on the basis of the six geo-political zones. These six geo political zones become economic zones as well and those zones have nothing less than five or six or seven states. This then gives them economies of scale to produce and industrialise. When this is done, there is enough market to create efficiencies and profit.
Therefore, restructuring is an inevitability. As president of Nigeria, immediately I come into office, we will begin a process that over two years of consultations with the National Assembly, state assemblies and with the people directly involved; we will show Nigerians why the future is much better with a constitutional configuration.
Some observers believe that the biggest threat to Nigeria’s democracy and in fact development is the National Assembly. If you come into office, how will you be relating with them?
Through dialogue, engagement and enlightened self-interest. At the end of the day, people will be surprised to see that our National Assembly will go along with a lot of good governance ideas that I will be bringing to the table.
We will also talk to the people of Nigeria directly, such that the National Assembly will feel pressured from their constituencies who would have keyed into the vision that I have for Nigeria as president.
If you are finally handed the ticket of your party, are you open to a debate?
Of course, I am ready to have a presidential debate with anyone, anytime anywhere.
What if former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s coalition signifies interest in working with you, would you embrace the idea?
It is a democracy, people are free to form whatever coalitions they want. I am interested in presenting a vision to the people of Nigeria as a presidential candidate. If people want to approach me to work with me, we can have discussions and see what the value is in that type of alliance.
I am in politics for transformation; I am not interested in coalitions of old wine in new bottle. I am interested in a coalition of like minds.
I don’t want to be part of the mistake of 2015 where people ganged up just to remove the president and after that, they found out that they had not much in common. This is part of what we are suffering today. I will be very careful about those types of associations even though I recognise people’s right to form alliances or associations. I think it is better to go directly to the people and give them your vision and if you have people who share that vision, then that’s fine. I don’t want to be part of alliances of aggrieved people. I don’t believe in those types of coalitions. That is why you will not see me running after political godfathers because we really want something different.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed the Not too young to run bill into law, do you think he is beginning to listen to the clamours of the people?
The initiative did not come from the president. He had no choice but to sign the bill otherwise he would have painted himself as an enemy of progress.
The truth is that the legislation is not an executive bill, so he cannot take credit for the Not too young to run bill. The people who will take credit for it are the young men and women who championed it.
Most political parties are zoning their presidential tickets to the North; don’t you think this can affect your chances of becoming victorious during next year’s election?
This development will actually help my chances. They can go ahead and zone themselves into more poverty, unemployment, insecurity in this country. I don’t believe in zoning, it is a retrogressive idea. Our time to move has come; we should focus more on competence in selecting our political leaders. Anybody can zone, but my party is not zoning. That is all that matters.
As an economist, in what ways will you diversify the economy?
I will diversify the economy by focusing on innovation; the products of scientific inventions will be mass produced in this country. So, that we will have an economy that is productive and home grown.
You can import but you will have to pay tariffs. I believe that the economic policies that we will set up, will generate and trigger massive industrialisation in this country. We will move electricity generation towards industrial zones, to bring the prices of products manufactured in Nigeria crashing down.
The economy will be based on innovation and less on oil rents. We will diversify by making sure we manufacture economic complex products and export them because that is how real economies function. Those are the things that will make our economy better.
In an era where people are used to their palms being rubbed before supporting a candidate in an election, do you think you have the resources to deal with this situation?
When you educate people on why it is not in their interest to sell their votes, they begin to get the message. We are not going to be giving anybody money to support us, we are already educating them on why they must not sell their votes for any amount. So, there is no problem in this regard.
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