Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Moghalu, has formally announced that he will run for the presidency in 2019.
Moghalu spoke exclusively to Daily Sun after his declaration, arguing that time has come for technocrats, intellectuals and experienced people to take power from Nigeria’s career politicians.
You just declared to run for the presidency in 2019. We are curious to know why someone who isn’t a politician is interested in running?
Well, the situation in Nigeria as you know is very bad today. I think we are in a season of anomie in this country, the country has been turned into a killing field, the security of life and property can no longer be guaranteed. And people are wondering which state will protect them? The economy is in a very deep hole, poverty and unemployment are rife. What’s the future for our children? That’s why I declared to run for the presidency, to be able to offer a vision for the future of this country -a vision that can take us into the 21st century as a united country with a strong economy, able to restore our place in the comity of nations.
What will be different in a federal government led by President Moghalu? What are the main elements of your manifesto?
I will run a competent and inclusive government from day one after my swearing in. There will be no waste of time because we would have used the time between our election victory and swearing in to form the government. Number two, you are going to see a different type of economy in Nigeria under my presidency. We are going to reposition the economy to run on the basis of innovation and human capital. We are not going to run an oil based economy. Number three, we are going to embark on and achieve the constitutional restructuring of Nigeria within two years of my government. So these are just highlights.
You spoke on constitutional restructuring within two years of your administration should you win. Have you taken into consideration the obstacles you might face from the National Assembly, the normal vexed issues that play out – religion and ethnicity, politics?
I think a consensus in favor of restructuring for development and stability of our country has been formed among a majority of Nigerians. Nigeria is not working in its current form. So, yes there will be a process of consultation with all parts of the country. It is going to be an inclusive, participatory and consultative process.
What party platform are you running on?
The focus of my vision and of this announcement of my aspiration is on the people of Nigeria. I want Nigerian to assess my capability first before focusing on platforms. So it is a deliberate decision that I have made at this time not to declare the party on which I will contest. Obviously, I will run on the platform of a political party. A number of parties have been talking to me to adopt their platform but we are having conversations and consultations. Within the next few weeks the movement I represent will make a final decision as to the platform on which we will contest for the presidency.
What is your assessment of the Buhari administration?
My assessment is that this current administration has been a colossal failure. We are insecure in our homes and communities because of marauding herdsmen, kidnappings and Boko Haram. Our economy is in the dungeons. Transparency International has released a report showing that corruption has increased in Nigeria. My government will fight corruption with an approach of impartial accountability starting with the people around me as President, and closing the systemic loopholes such as budget padding and the process of awarding contracts.
Some people believe that the turn of the Igbo will come in 2023. Why are you in the race?
It is the turn of a competent Nigerian to come to the presidency. So, that is the basis on which I am seeking the opportunity to provide leadership that will take Nigeria into the 21st century. I am not an Igbo candidate for the presidency of Nigeria. I am a Nigerian candidate for the Nigerian presidency. That does not take away from my being a proud Igbo man. But my aspiration is not based on any ethnic agenda. It is based on my vision for 180 million Nigerians. Therefore, I do not consider those types of arguments.
Speaking of identity, how much consultations have you done before declaring? What are the feelers you got from the various geo-political zones?
It is very interesting. For the past three months I have been crisscrossing Nigeria doing the work of the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation but also talking to people about what they feel about leadership in Nigeria. One of the reasons I have made this decision to offer myself is because I have come under tremendous pressure from young people in the south- west of Nigeria, northern states of Nigeria, South-South, South-East, I mean across the whole country. These young people have seen in my career and in my activities or in my vision something that they themselves also identify with. So, this vision is collective and not just my own personal vision. It is a vision that represents millions of Nigerians.
So what are your plans to generate jobs for the youths?
My government will create a venture capital fund of a minimum of N500billion. We are going to to scrap this N500 billion social intervention programme that this government is running because it is a pipeline of waste and corruption. You are giving people N5, 000 a month that are unemployed, what does N5, 000 do for you? We are going to turn it into a venture capital fund that we will invest in new businesses. We know that small businesses are what create jobs in various economies and we are going to do same in Nigeria. So, the more we help business creation and educate the unemployed with vocational skills to start their own businesses and give them capital to do so, that is how you drastically cut down unemployment.
Recently, I was at the University of Nigeria, to give a lecture, the Isaac Moghalu foundation that I founded 12 years ago, which is a philanthropic foundation, offered scholarships to 50 students of the University of Nigeria, to study entrepreneurship online. They will be taught how to make soap, cosmetics, shoe polish and all sorts of small things that if you put your hand into it, there is demand for it and you will prosper. So these are practical things, just giving you an example of what I have done at a philanthropic personal level but if given the chance to form the government we will do much more. That is why I’m talking about N500 billion venture capital fund, it is critical for Nigeria.
What would you say to the south-east regarding voter apathy and the Biafra struggle?
The agitation for Biafra is a cry for justice at the bottom of it all. I understand why. But the method for how justice can be achieved is the issue. Biafra in terms of physical secession from Nigeria is not a realistic path to follow. I believe in the unity of Nigeria, I believe in a Nigeria with equity and justice for all. That is why I think it is important for all Nigerians to engage in the political process. Stop being apathetic, stop avoiding voting, go and get your voter’s card and vote in the right types of leaders into office. Vote out those who are not committed to equity and justice but secession is not the answer.
You spoke about the failure of this government to tackle insecurity, so what will you do differently?
Security is not just about fighting Boko Haram. That is a very narrow definition of security. Many other security challenges have cropped up. There is the herdsmen issue, the kidnappings and so on. We need a multidimensional definition of what securing this country means. Security means sleeping at night comfortably and not with one eye open whether it is Boko Haram, herdsmen, kidnapping, armed robbers. The quality of Nigeria Police Force needs to be massively improved. We have only 350,000 policemen in Nigeria and I want to let you know that perhaps one third of them are busy guarding VIPs in their homes. You and I are not secure. So, Nigeria needs not less than 1.5 to 2 million policemen in order to effectively cover the security challenges.
My government will invest massively in police reform, recruiting new policemen, training them. Our policemen are not properly trained and we don’t have forensic capabilities in the Nigeria Police Force. So we need to train our policemen, they need to specialise in handling crime, cyber issues and all kinds of security threats. The army is being increasingly used in place of the police and this is wrong. The military should be engaged in fighting Boko Haram, that is a terrorist group but the army should not be used against citizens of Nigeria.
Finally, we are coming to agreement that state police is necessary. We need police under the command of different states but there can be an arrangement of overall coordination or even powers of reversion to the federal security police just in case any governor or any political operative starts trying to use state police to change the authority of the federal government, we don’t want that situation as well. But that is not an excuse that all the police must be based in Abuja, it is not working as we can see.
On a final note you recently launched a book, ‘Big, Innovate and Grow,’ what are the lessons there for Nigerians?
My new book ‘Big, Innovate and Grow’, is a vision on how Nigeria’s problems can be addressed in a very practical manner. In the book, I discussed and offered solutions on how to solve the many problems that confront our country. I discussed foundations like what leadership means, why we need to have world view, a national philosophy that drives our governance, how to achieve good governance. How to really fight corruption and why institutions matter. I also discussed nation-building, the role of women, and the role of the youth in nation building. Women and youth, I think, are critical elements of nation building in this country that have not been tapped into as we should.