Former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, is a presidential aspirant on the platform of Young Progressive Party (YPP). In this interview, he speaks about his ambition and what Nigerians stand to gain, if he becomes president next year
What is your drive to run for the presidency of this country?
We are divided by a lot of things now in the country. It is time for a new visionary leadership that will build a real nation. That is what I seek and that is what I offer for our countrymen and women.
Number two, Nigeria’s economy is also broke. We are now the poverty capital of the whole world. We have the highest number of the poor people of any country in the world. Eighty seven million people living in extreme poverty in this country. That means that 80 percent of Nigerians are living in extreme poverty. This is a legacy of zoning. Unemployment is rising, poverty is rising, the population is rising. What are we going to do about it? I have the vision to do something about it.
Do you care where your doctor comes from when you have a problem? If you are sick, you look for your doctor. You don’t ask your doctor what part of Nigeria are you from when he can give you a medicine. Nigeria is like a patient and it is time to bring leaders with vision and expertise to bring Nigeria back to life and take us to the 24th century. So, let us forget about those type of discussions like zoning and others. There is no first or second class citizen in this country. All Nigerians are entitled to pursue their aspirations. For me, running for president is not an ambition. It is a vision. So, I am a man with a vision an a mission for Nigeria. That is why I am running. I am running because I am sick and tired of poverty that faces millions of our citizens in this country, while our politicians cross carpet from party to party with no ideology, vision, and contributions for the betterment of the ordinary people. While they are busy talking about zoning, people are dying. Herdsmen are murdering Nigerians and you are telling me about zoning. Those who want to zone themselves into poverty in 2019 are welcome to do so.
Those who want to zone themselves into insecurity in 2019 are welcome to do so. That is their choice. As far as I am concerned and millions of Nigerians are concerned, 2019 is zoned to competence, is zoned to a new vision of this country and zoned to reducing poverty, create jobs for unemployed Nigerians; zoned to the security of lives and property, and zoned to innovation in our economy. That is my idea of zoning.
Looking at the way you itemize your vision for the country, in terms of unemployment, insecurity among others. How do you intend to solve these problems?
Let’s start with security. My approach to security is as follows: I will bring an understanding that national security is a challenge and I will approach it with a level of complexity, understanding that Boko Haram is one of those security challenges that Nigeria faces. So, concentrating only on Boko Haram, like this government did and it has not even defeat Boko Haram, is the wrong approach. Herdsmen attack is a security issue, kidnapping is a security issue and the extreme poverty in Nigeria is a national security issue. Nobody is talking about the security dimensions of population rising, unemployment rising and poverty that is also rising. By 2050, we will be 400 million Nigerians, according to the UN projection. What happens to us then. Do we eat ourselves with this rate of poverty? You need an understanding of the national security that is as complex as the challenge itself. Cybersecurity is a security challenge. Who is talking about it? Our border security is part of security. Who is talking about it? Our borders with Niger, Cameroon, and others, are porous. If you cannot secure your own borders, are you truly a sovereign nation? I will focus on these kind of problems. I will secure Nigeria’s borders, I will bring an understanding that is as complex as the problem itself. I will have a team of national leadership on security that will be professionally chosen. The one will have now is based on parochialism. Apart from the recent incident, the removal of the former DSS boss, all the security leadership came from a particular region. Are you telling me that those who are competent to secure this country are only from one zone? We must run an inclusive and meritocratic system of government. You look for bright minds across the country. You must build confidence in the whole country that you are a national leader, not a tribal or ethnic leader.
You also mentioned corruption as part of our problem. Don’t you think this government is trying its best to fight this menace?
I don’t think so. I think it is very clear to everybody that corruption remains a major challenge for the country today. This government made a lot of noise about fighting corruption. Corruption has become a political football in Nigeria. Neither this government nor the previous ones are serious about fighting corruption in the country. Until we stop using corruption as a way to witch-hunt for the opposition, we are not yet serious about fighting corruption. As president of Nigeria, as from 2019, here is what I will do. One, you must address a problem of a value system which is what breeds and feeds corruption. You must catch them young in the elementary schools, in secondary schools.
Number two, I will live by example as a president. Number three, accountability for corruption must be impartial. You cannot treat corruption inside your government with deodorant and treat corruption in opposition to the incident and be hailing yourself that you are fighting corruption. Everybody in Nigeria can see that the fight against corruption is one-sided. It is just what this government is using to delegitimatize opposition. I am not saying they are not corrupt but I am just saying that they are not the only one that is corrupt. There is more corruption in this government and they have done nothing about it.
There are too many cases for me to mention. The N48 million that was found in a place, who has talked about it till today? The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who was forced to resign after the president has defended him. Who is fooling who in this country? Why do people believe propaganda? There are too many cases of corruption in this government. Questionable certificate, and people are quiet. They are covering up and telling me that they are fighting corruption. The best way to fight corruption is to create transparency in processes. What has happened to the budget padding cases that we saw in the last three year? Somebody was indicted for corrupt practices and he ran out of the country. Today, he came back and joined the government. Who brought him to the government? No answer. And you are fighting corruption. We will bring transparency. I as the president of the country will ensure that our budget undergoes a process of forensic auditing before I submit to the National Assembly.
What that means is that, if there is any budget padding, we will fish it out and we will hold such part of the government responsible for such actions.
Two, we would subject contract procedures to much more transparent processes. We would maintain a database that has a current price of all kind of goods in this country. So, this is ways in which we will fight corruption. We will be systematic about it, in terms of the value system orientation that you need to really work on because that is the mindset. A lot of young people in this country no longer believe that it is wrong to be corrupt. If you are not corrupt, they look at you as a fool. I was a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), I don’t own any building in this country. I don’t own any property. To me, it is a matter of choice. Many people believe that I will make a different choice as president.
In recent times, Nigerians outside the country are being maltreated, as seen in the case of xenophobia in South Africa and other places. What are you going to do about this if you become president?
I would protect and project the Nigerians’ national interest competently. One of the reasons you can count on this is that I have great experience in international relation and policy. I worked for 17 years in the United Nations. I understand the international politics and I understand how nations protect and project the interest of their citizens very well and that is what I will do as the president of Nigeria. I will treat the country based on reciprocity. If you treat Nigerians well, we will treat your citizens well in Nigeria. If you treat Nigerians badly, we will take counter-measures. We will not tolerate Nigerians being in jail and beaten up in foreign countries without consequences. I as the president of Nigeria will never allow that.
Every government that has come has said something about power (electricity). How are you going to tackle the issue of electricity in the country?
I would tackle the issue of power in a very strategic way. My first business is to make sure that industrial production and manufacturing in this country receive 24 hours of power supply. We will move power from hydroelectric power, there will be gas power towards industrial zones that we would establish in places like Lagos, Kano, Onitsha, and Aba. When those factories enjoy 24 hours of electricity, the prices of goods will crash, because 40 percent of cost of products manufactured in Nigeria is based on the cost of electricity.
Two, we would decentralize the national grid. That will help various regions to manage their own electricity needs. Three, I will begin the process of creating a market for renewable energy like solar power. Nigeria is bountifully endowed with sun and other things that can create a renewable energy. It is just that we have not invested in that area. India has just built an airport that runs on solar energy but in Nigeria, we are interested in politics and not in leadership. I am not a politician, but I am a leader.
Nigerians are known to vote more on the basis of political party and not on an individual. Are you not bothered about this as your party is not among the big and popular ones?
I think that habit is changing. The disappointment we had serially from our failed and recycled political leaders is leaving Nigerians now as we move towards 2019 general elections. Nigerians now focus more on individual than party. That is why you are seeing a new political movement. That is why I chose not join PDP or APC because I didn’t think those parties would provide Nigerians the kind of the leader they need now. They focus on things like zone and all the wrong things and that is why we keep on having recycled and failed leadership.
So, Nigerian are looking at the track records of the individual. I believe that Nigerians should elect somebody based on character, capacity, and competence. Before looking at the political parties, what is happening now, since I announced my membership of the Young Progressive Party? Many Nigerians have shown more interest in the party by joining the party because of me. It is a new party, yet many people have been attracted to it because they have confidence in my antecedent and my track record as a leader.
So, they feel that if this kind of person is elected, he will give us the kind of government we want. So, they said, we would follow him to his party. That is what is happening increasingly. And as we educate Nigerians more and more as we’ve been doing, they will be aware. Not just be following the party, because the parties have just become a machine for the kind of politics that our politicians play. They don’t provide anything for our poor citizens who are becoming more jobless by the day.
INEC has just registered about 23 new political parties, making the numbers to be 91. What is your take on this?
I think its a wrong focus. I think we are going in the wrong direction by registering parties at will. I think what will happen is that we will just have many pocket parties that are not existing; parties that do not have structures. I think the more important focus that we should have in this country is that INEC should ensure that the process of election in this country is actually transparent and efficient. Register Nigerians to vote. Empower them to exercise their democratic rights. They should make sure that the registration booths and polling booths are efficiently located during the election and registration. Most Nigerians are feeling disenfranchised by cutting off the registration on August 17. I was at the protest match. I had to meet the INEC chairman myself. They have extended it by two more weeks. That is still better. It should be extended to December like it was in 2015 election. INEC is following the laws but the laws should be amended and make sure that the process of democracy in the country actually has substance rather than creating the impression of democracy by allowing all dick and harry to form a political party. That doesn’t do us any good.
Do you have people that can finance your election?
You’re indirectly asking me if I have godfathers. Yes, I have 200 million godfathers. And these are Nigerians. We will present our vision to them and in their own enlightened self-interest, they would empower themselves by giving us N1,000 each. If millions of Nigerians are giving this, we will have enough to run the campaign.
The sitting government appears formidable. How optimistic are you of victory?
Cuts in…. They appear formidable until the cross carpeting started. Please, let’s tell ourselves the truth. A month ago, everybody could have sworn that nothing would shake this government but a few weeks later, almost half of the government defected. Panic everywhere. What are you saying that they are formidable?
Let us address the questions of formidable first. A week is a long time in politics. This government is not at all formidable, politically speaking. Many people have lost faith in them because of the three major promises they made to us; that is security, fighting corruption and economic progress. They have not been delivered to us. Therefore, people are disenchanted. Now, does going to PDP solve the problem? No. It doesn’t because APC and PDP are the same. They have the same political habit. People are just looking for advantages for themselves as politicians.
That is why I did not join the PDP inspired coalition and I am not joining the APC coalition because I believe that the salvation of this country will not come from the recycled politicians we’ve tried and have failed us. The salvation of this country will come from a new visionary leadership which will be generationally younger than the current leadership of APC and PDP. I am opened to a coalition of like minds. 2019 is a choice. It is not just an election. The choice between the old which has left us in a bad situation and the new which gives us a new hope for a different Nigeria.
What if those money bags with tainted names say they want to sponsor you?
I will be wary of that. I will not use tainted money to run my election because I believe that Nigerians will support this vision.
Are you saying that this election is not a do or die for you?
How will I be desperate? Do I look to you as somebody who will be desperate? I am a very accomplished individual. I don’t need to be running for president. I am doing it because of my commitment to my country. To serve my country and for the masses that are suffering under the yoke of our failed politicians. What I am doing is not do or die affair. It is only the masses that can make you a president. The people that are desperate are the old politicians who want to rig election, who want to bribe voters for votes. Those are the ones that are doing see and buy.
How confident are you for 2019 or you are just positioning yourself for 2023?
I am in this election to win. I intend to win and we are serious about it and we are developing our structures across the country. We are talking to Nigerian citizens about our new vision for the country and what will surprise you is the extent of disenchantment with the current system amongst Nigerians. But those who have their eyes fixed on the old politicians don’t know this. The reality is that most Nigerians don’t want PDP or APC if they have their way and the elections are free and fair.
With the vision I am coming in with, I believe that I have a very big chance of winning the election. If I had tried this in 2015, I would not have the chance then but the time is ripe for the fundamental paradigm shift in Nigerian politics. Remember what Nelson Mandela said that ‘it always looks impossible until it happens’. The historical moment is almost here. Nigerians have tried the left, it didn’t work; they tried the right, it didn’t work . The alternative must come now .
What about the challenge of people selling their votes like what happened in Ekiti?
Yes, we still have the challenges of people selling their votes. I don’t dismiss it at all. It is still a very big challenge. But I want you to understand that the presidential election is going to be different from the state elections where you can send 30 thousand troops and intimidate everybody. The 30 thousand troops cannot cover the whole 36 state. And if you decide to send 50 thousand troops, it will still not do anything. You cannot cow Nigerians and mount up vote buying across the 36 states of Nigeria. I don’t think that is going to work .
You have addressed the issue of insecurity, how are you going to tackle the issue of unemployment in the country?
This is very important. How do you create jobs? You create jobs through two ways. One is to make sure that young people have skills and are employable. Two, you create jobs through the private sector. Government would create an enabling environment that will make them to function and boom so as to be able to create jobs . My government will establish N1 trillion capital fund that will invest in new businesses. It will not be a loan at 30 percent interest rate that will kill people, but the fund will have equity in your business.
This is the innovative way to create jobs. We are going to run an economy that is based on innovation, not the one that is dependent on oil. So, when people invent things and we mass produce them, that gives jobs. This capital fund will massively stimulate the economy. As unemployed persons, create a business from that investment through the fund. He or she is out of unemployment already. If the business does well, he or she must recruit people. This is how job creation happens.
So, it is time for Nigerians to have a president who can lead and manage the economy to create jobs and prosperity for Nigerians.
If one if the two big parties emerge in 2019 and you are invited to be a minister so that you can use these ideas for the nation, will you take the offer?
Laughs…. Let me tell you the problem in serving in such position, no matter how competent you are as a technocrat, if you have wrong political leaders, you are not going to make any impact because the ultimate decision about the government are made by those politicians. That is why our economy is in shamble, because it is the politics that determines our economy. Why do you think Nigerians have gone extremely poor when we have those who can create wealth? We have private individuals that are smart and can make it despite bad governance.
But the majority are disenfranchised because the government is not creating the right environment . That’s is the problem. We are not looking for a job. I am looking for the transformation of this country. If I stay in my house in 2019, whatever government that may come to power will come and look for me, even if I didn’t run for president. I have the track record of delivering. Everyone that knows me, knows that I deliver. I am not looking for how to fill my stomach. Rather, I’m focusing on what type of job I get and be comfortable, I am more focused on solution for our suffering masses. I am not looking for a job .
What is your take on the issue of having elections every four years?
The truth is that four years in practice is too short to provide good governance in this country. Only leaders who are very well equipped, visionary and strong can provide good governance within four years. Four years is short because most people come in and take one year to settle down, spending the next two years for governance and the remaining year is for politics. When I become president, working in the four years term frame, I will use them efficiently. Within 48 hours, my cabinet would be announced. As I am being sworn in, you will know the Chief of Staff, National Security Adviser and the SGF. I will set up some offices in the office of the president that will be unique in the history of governance in the country.
Number one will be the office of the National Strategy. Two, office of the Performance Management. Three, the National Office of Risk Management. Four, the office of Human Capital Development. These four offices will drive the governance strategy. The office of Strategy will develop the grand plan, the milestones. The Performance will be monitoring the performance achievement of the milestones and be reporting to me expressly. The office of the Risk Management will help me manage the risk that prevents the government from achieving their promises.