Kingsley Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and presidential candidate of the Youth Progressives Party (YPP), at a hangout Friday night in Victoria Island, Lagos, with young progressive Nigerians, shared some of his visions and why he is in the race to win. Below are his words as captured by ZEBULON AGOMUO, Editor, who was in attendance.
Nigerians yearning for a true leadership
One of the things that strikes me so much in all the places we have been to and with my interactions with fellow Nigerians is just how much people are yearning for a change in leadership. The masses, the grassroots in this country really want change. The people who do not want change are the elite, the middle class; they are the ones that are holding this country down; they are the ones that are killing this country. They are killing this country by their cynicism; they are killing our future by their selfishness. They have their good jobs; they don’t want to go and register to vote; they don’t want to get involved in societal change and some of them are just afraid; afraid of the status quo, who they know is not working for them or working for the people. They say to themselves, ‘Well, as long as I have my nice job and I live in Ikoyi or Victoria Island am Ok’. But what about the 90 million people who are extremely poor? Every society that is looking up and making progress, it is the middle class and educated people who should lead but because the middle class has abdicated its responsibility in this country, our future is now decided by people who are saying ‘give us money, give us money’, everywhere. These are the people who are deciding our future; the crooked and corrupt politicians would come and give them N3000, N5000 or even three bottles of beer, they sell their votes. This should not be happening in a country that has a large number of enlightened citizens; it is the people like us who should be out in front telling people what we should be doing. We have a society where the worst rule the best. People are very happy with themselves in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and in their clubs; I call it a fake life.
Count me out of fake life
That’s why I am doing what I am doing; I decided to stop living a fake life. I am ok. I don’t need to be doing this; I have been a United Nations official for many years (17 years); went from the entry level to the highest career rank; I have been a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; I have founded my own Strategy and Risks consulting firm in Switzerland that’s doing quite well; I have been a professor of International Business and Economic Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, which is one of the top graduate schools of international affairs and one of the top universities in the world. I have founded my own think-tank, The Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation. Why have I left all that to run for president of Nigeria; when I am not moneybags; when I am not a career politician? It is because I decided that my personal success means nothing if this country continues to go the way it is going. I have children, four children; all of them are very interested in their country; they want to come back; they want to make their lives and career here, but I know that if this country continues the trajectory- rising poverty, rising unemployment, rising population growth- what then is the future?
Time to get out of pretence
But we like to deceive ourselves; we pretend that we are not seeing all these things, because a lot of developments are going on in Ikoyi and Victoria Island. Every few years the ambiance changes- new shops, new cars, new homes, new developments for the upper class and we think we are making progress. But the vast majority of our people are getting poorer and poorer. By 2050, it is projected that our population would be 400million at the current population rate and what would happen? Of course, there would be social implosion and a very miserable existence for most of our people. Some people have to wake up; some people have to say ‘No, we can’t allow this to continue to go on’; so, I brought out myself sacrificially and it took a lot of courage I must tell you; and it is that courage that I was able to find in myselfto do what I am doing- to challenge the old political order in the country.
Need to be courageous
It is that courage that I want in all the people in the middle class. I want all of us to find that courage. This is because it is courage that changes things; slavery would have continued if some people were not courageous enough to challenge things- both blacks and whites. Colonialism would have continued if people like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah did not rise up. Civil Rights Discrimination in the United States would have continued if Rosa Park had not been courageous in her fight in the Montgomery Bus Boycott following the equally courageous action of Claudette Colvin, American nurse, who refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a crowded, segregated bus. So, courage is very important; courage is the most important element of change in human society. The courage to challenge what is not right; the courage to move forward, the courage to challenge the status quo; the courage of innovation; the courage of entrepreneurship. You can’t be a successful business entrepreneur if you are not courageous; so, that same courage you should apply it into politics.
I won’t be an accidental president
I had planned what to do when I get into power on May 29. It is not going to be an accident. It will not be ‘not my will’ or that I was planning to go for Senate then something happened and I became president. No. I have thought about it. I know what our country should look like and I know what I would like to do. I wrote a book when I decided to go into this competition. It is called ‘Build, Innovate and Grow: My Vision for Our Country’. So, that book is a vision and a plan, it is not a promise; politicians make promises, I am not a politician. We have a plan and we will execute it.
In my presidency, there are going to be four important offices and they will be very close to me. They are Office of the National Strategy (responsible for laying out the vision and layout the linkages); The National Office of Risks Management. I am going to bring risks management into the governance of Nigeria. What are the risks that make leaders/presidents fail? Why do politicians make promises but not keep them? (This office will help me manage political risks, strategic risks and operational risks). There will be the Office of Human Capital Development, and Performance Management Office.
In my presidency, there will be consequences for non-performance.
I will build a new foundation for Nigeria
On the economy, there are three major strategic pillars of my vision. The first is to build a nation (nation building). How do you build a nation? I raised that question at the Presidential debate that my government will be different from every other government because I will come with a foundational approach to the problem of this country. It doesn’t mean we are not going to pursue the low-hanging fruits; the quick fixes that citizens would want. I understand that every citizen is asking how soon are we going to begin to have constant supply of electricity? But you see, if you don’t address the question of Nigeria, it’s all a waste of time because the absence of a nationhood is what prevents good governance. The politicians are just coming there for their own reasons, because there is no nation; there are just a conglomeration of tribes that behave like crabs in a basket- each one trying to pull the other down. And because you have not addressed the problem of nationhood, when they come into government, they can’t move the country forward. So, is Nigeria a nation? I say no, we are a country; even at that it is questionable; given much control, government has lost over a lot of its territory, you can validly question the real state of Nigeria’s integrity.We will build a nation, first by setting a philosophical foundation of the worldview for the Nigerian state. Why are we Nigerians? What is our national ambition? Where are we coming from? Where are we going? Why is the world the way it is? What is our strategy to get to where we think we are going? What is our value system? What is the theory of knowledge- how do we learn? Every country that is making progress is led by people who think. How do you move forward if you don’t think?
We will lead the constitutional restructuring of this country; returning it to a proper federation. No big country like ours, with multiple ethnicities that can function well as a unitary state. Today, Nigeria is a unitary state, in reality. We will work with women as our equal partners and we will work with our youths as leaders of today, not tomorrow. That’s the first part of my vision, the second is the economy. And the third is foreign affairs. Here, our ambition is to be strong at home and powerful abroad. I am the only presidential candidate with experience in all these three things.