‘Some people would be partisan and I have chosen not to be period’

Professor Kingsley Moghalu, the former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who contested for the office of president in the 2019 general election, has resigned his ambition to participate in active politics. As a guest on Arise TV, the lawyer and presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the 2019 general election said that he had made up his mind to disassociate himself from active politics, insisting that that was what informed his decision to accept his new assignment where, in a non-partisan capacity, he can contribute actively and more elaborately to nation-building.

“Some people would be partisan, and I have chosen not to be, period,” Moghalu said. In the anchor’s quest to find out if Moghalu’s foray into the murky waters of Nigerian politics was worth the energy, stress, and perhaps life-threatening situation, he answered in the affirmative, stating that he learned a lot about Nigerian politics and that he believes that has shaped his intellectual knowledge base about the political, economic, and educational development of the country.

“Let me start by saying that, in my opinion, it was absolutely worth it,” he said. “I think it was a historical effort. I think it began to point and change the conversation in the Nigerian polity in a certain direction that we now see today, which is that the established politicians of the two main political parties so far have not delivered what Nigeria needs.”

He expressed dissatisfaction about how poorly the two major political parties have performed. He argued that his personal observation and the Multidimensional Poverty Report of the National Bureau of Statistics have revealed the worrisome level of mass poverty in the country, a situation that calls for urgent intervention.

He said, “What we have seen delivered—let’s come down to the brass tacks—it’s 133 million Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty out of a population of about 216 million. That’s not a very good report card.”

Read also: We must elect a leader that has understanding, wisdom to bring people together — Moghalu

He added that as an entrant into the Nigerian political space in 2018, his intellectual contributions changed the way politics, especially policy proposals, are drafted and presented to would-be voters. He acknowledged that political parties are now taking the more fashionable approach of presenting their manifestos as bound documents so that Nigerians can hold them accountable if they win power.

“My candidature in 2019 was to make Nigerian politics focus on the issues, on policies, and on vision. I was the first presidential candidate to come out with a well-thought-out manifesto put together in a book, “Big, Build, Innovate, and Grow,” which many other candidates started copying. And so I feel like I have been a pathfinder, and today we have a lot more Nigerian young people interested in politics who are engaging very actively. This was the journey I started in 2019, and some others, mostly young people, joined me.”So I think it has certainly been worth it,” he added.

However, he found it engaging to at least state categorically what he actually gained from his time in active politics. He believes many young and aspiring politicians can learn from his experience and help avoid some of the pitfalls many have fallen into and never recovered from.

“I learned three very important lessons,” he said. “Which are: One, Nigerian politics is a money guzzler.”

“If you have not stolen public funds like I have not, if you are not massively independently wealthy like I am not because most of my life has been spent in public service, whether at the United Nations or the Nigerian Central Bank.

“If you don’t have that type of money and are not extremely desperate, you may not necessarily be able to win the gold trophy of the election itself,” he added.

However, he stated that politics shouldn’t be a winner-take-all game. He used a football match to explain how better politics should be conducted in the country. “In politics, there are many kinds of victories, such as the kinds that I believe I also achieved. “You know that in a soccer game, you might not win the gold cup, but you might win silver or bronze, and there’s also the joy and honour of participating in the sport.”

The other lesson he wanted to share was about reforms in the electoral system that repositioned the system for a more credible outcome in the forthcoming elections. According to him, there was no hope for politicians outside the APC and PDP if the electoral law was not changed.

The electoral act reforms were part of his hard work, which he believes will result in credible elections for Nigerians in 2023.

He also believes that illiteracy and poverty are perhaps the two greatest dangers to getting the right leaders for the country. His assertion came from his personal experience during his 2019 campaigns. According to him, he risked his life and spent a lot of money educating people about his policies and intentions to change the country, but because of some deep-pocketed politicians and vote-buying activities on the day of the election, he could not get the outcome he had hoped to get.

“They talk and talk, and so the question is whether you can kill yourself in the process as it carries a lot of risk. Because I campaigned across the whole country, including the places that were just quite dangerous—the roads, the air, everywhere, and you ask yourself, “Look, I have a family and I am doing this, and I am even spending my personal resources that I don’t have a lot of, and the people for whom you are fighting, because many of them are illiterate and because they are poor, they would still go and vote for those people that have been their oppressors.

“So these are important lessons that I learned, and I had to ask myself if the time had not come to reposition yourself and continue to contribute with your passion and love for country, but you must not be a partisan,” he said.