Nigerians must rise up for revolution in 2019, says Moghalu
• ‘Our country needs intellectual leaders, constitutional restructuring’
• ‘INEC can redeem itself with presidential election’
Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, the Young Progressives Party (YPP) Presidential Candidate, is a political economist, lawyer, former United Nations official, and professor in International Business and Public Policy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who founded the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation (IGET), in this interview with News Editor Marcel Mbamalu and reporter Emeka Nwachukwu, says Nigeria is in desperate need of leaders who understand its peculiar problems and how to solve them. Unveiling his plans for the 2019 general elections, Moghalu explains how constitutional restructuring can help the country attain economic growth and development.
What would you say is the significance of your candidacy now that everyone talks about the participation of youths in politics?
Nigerians are at a historical moment when very different things can happen and are likely to happen in the coming elections. Every country experiences such a historical moment in different ways. Germany experienced the historical moment of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to the unification; America experienced the historical moment of the election of Barrack Obama; France experienced a historical moment of the election of Emmanuel Macron — a man outside the major parties who led the new movement to win.
I think Nigeria is at such a historical moment when the old recycled politicians will give way to a new political order. I think the citizens of Nigeria are ready; the question is whether, or not, they have the courage to close the deal by actually moving.
But every body is tired, that’s what I recognise as a historical moment, and we haven’t had this type of time in the last 20 years. We are also at a historical moment because, every 20 years since Nigeria’s independence, epochal changes take place. We had the 1959 elections to 1979 elections. In 1979, there was another set of elections after the military interregnum, three years of democracy the military came back, in 1999 (20 years later), another democracy was restored. That democracy has been in place for the past twenty years but it has not made the lives of Nigerians better, instead democracy has brought more poverty to Nigerians. So in 2019 (another 20 years), something major is going to happen, because Nigerians have come to realise that democracy is not improving their lives economically, and not safeguarding their security.
So, that democracy is increasingly interrogated now; the old political leaders must give way for something new, different and bold. That’s what I think the historic significance of my candidacy is.
Now my candidacy is significant at another level, because now many people want a younger set of leaders, the role of youths is now increasingly becoming the focus but, in Nigeria, we tend to do things superficially. We have passed the Not-too-young-to-run Bill, but the focus is merely on youths running for office; it doesn’t focus on the two other aspects of youth participation in politics.
There are three aspects of youth participation in politics that must take place for youths to be properly integrated in the political system: The first is membership of a political party. The second is voting in an election; while the third is running for office.
We have jumped the two and going to the third, which is Not-too-young-to-run. Yes, in theory, the bill has been passed but maybe you are too young to afford your form, which tells you that the democracy itself is deformed where you have forms costing the price of a house.
The young people of this country should first of all focus on voting in elections massively because the youths are over 60 percent of the nation’s population. If they vote massively with their aspiration for a leader that can lead them into the 21st century, we would not have the likes of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in office.
But for that to happen, don’t you think that politicians like you have a role to play?
That’s the role of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is supposed to be a commission that promotes the electoral system and increases participation in the system by all citizens who are eligible, especially the young people. That’s why political education is very important. But INEC is not spending a lot of time on political education, so, it’s falling on candidates like me to be educating the people on how powerful they are with their voter cards if they choose to use it, why they should go and register to vote.
So, you find a lot of young people, spending a lot of their time on the Internet and social media, instead of registering to vote. Rather than spend time and energy on things that are necessarily decisive for the quality of their lives in terms of education, jobs or healthcare, they are busy telling jokes and abusing each other.
So, what action are you taking to turn things around in that direction?
That’s why I am saying my candidacy is essentially a political education exercise. I am educating a lot of citizens in this country. Over the past nine months, I have gone to about 30 states holding town halls with ordinary Nigerians of different levels, some who are educated and some who are not.
How much of a challenge does this situation pose to your campaign, especially as your victory depends on the participation of youths?
Of course, my victory is dependent on awakening the conscience of citizens of this country; to tell them that it is time for something new, different and bold, just like the man speaking to you; who is different from the kind of politicians we are seeing. That’s the kind of reaction I have gotten in various parts of the country we have been to.
How do you measure the impact of your strategy so far?
Impact is difficult to measure but easy to feel. One impact I can see is that everywhere I go, I am practically being mobbed. It means that people are listening to me and it means that they like what they are hearing; so, they come up to you and tell you how encouraged they are by listening to interviews and speeches you have made, or your town halls, so you can see that you are making an impact in their lives because you are giving them hope for a better Nigeria, hope for a better tomorrow. That’s another level my candidacy is significant.
It is also significant at a third level: The rise of the technocrat politician. Politics has long been the preserve of career politicians in this country, technocrats tend to shy away from it, what they satisfy themselves with are appointments by politicians who emerge, because the politicians have all the powers; if technocrats tend to do the right things they become frustrated. If they don’t want to do the right things they join the politicians in doing the wrong things — they all become corrupt and several opportunities are wasted.
So, I said to myself that I have been a technocrat for quite a while and its time to become a political leader with the knowledge and experience I have, to offer myself to Nigerians at the level of political leadership because that’s the level transformation can happen. Lee Kuan Yew was a technocratically competent man who became a political leader in Singapore, through democratic legitimacy of electoral political power; he was able to transform his society. This is where I see myself as from 2019 when I become the president. There are three levels in which my candidacy is significant, the significance of the historical moment, the significance of the new generational leadership coming as from 2019, and the significance of the rise of the technocrat politician.
Do you think you have gotten the political sagacity required to mobilize people to come out and vote for you, because Nigeria is seen as a different scenario when it comes to politics?
Why do we celebrate our peculiarity to such extent that we refuse to become a developed country and we are actually proud of how peculiar we are. Our politics is such that it has kept us poor; it has kept millions of Nigerians, young men and women, unemployed. It has kept us in darkness; 20 years of democracy, we still have not more than 4000 mega watts of electricity. Why must we celebrate such backward peculiarity. Are we the children of lesser gods? Are we telling ourselves that what we deserve are these incompetent, old and recycled politicians, who have been stealing our money and enjoying themselves, who believe that they and their children own Nigeria, and we actually clap for them!
That’s why I say that the time has come to send them into retirement; we should not relax and say, well, this is Nigeria. Why must we accept such low standards? It’s time for us, as a country, to begin to move into the kind of politics that we have in countries that are making progress, in which contest for elections depend on your vision and performance.
What economic reforms do you think Nigeria needs most at this time?
The fundamental economic reform Nigeria needs is at the level of vision and philosophy. The reason Nigeria’s economy never works well is because Nigeria has no clear economic philosophy, you can’t have economic policy without an economic philosophy. Are we capitalist? Fine, if we are, what kind of capitalist are we?
There are four kinds of capitalism: Entrepreneurial, welfare, crony and state capitalism. Which one are we and why? We don’t know. Our economic decision making is just a series of add up decisions without plans. We also think we are capitalist but we don’t understand the secrets of a capitalist economy and that is, there most be property right, innovation on the economy and there must be capital. Because our present political leaders don’t understand all these, they will call it grammar, but that’s why we are poor. Go and check the countries that are doing well, their leaders understand what am telling you, that’s why we in Nigeria should have a president such as myself who understands these kind of things and if you give me the mandate, I will turn it into government policy and it will make the lives of ordinary people in Nigeria better, it will help to create jobs, it will help to solve electricity problems.
These are some of the specific reforms that I will be implementing. I will be moving to the National Assembly for the abolition of the Land Use Act, because it prevents full ownership of property rights. I am going to move Nigeria away from dependence on oil. We need to move the economy to become an innovation-driven economy, we are going to be emphasising the role of innovation, people who invent things, who discover new ways of doing old things, then we empower them, we encourage, let products of innovation become mass produced and put into the market, that is what develops an economy in a sustainable way not natural resources.
I am going to build Nigeria’s economy on the basis of human capital that we are going to make sure they are skilled. My government will establish skill training centers in each of the 774 local government areas of Nigeria where young men and women who graduate from secondary school and don’t wish to go on to University or those who come out of University and don’t have practical skills, would go and learn those skills: welding, vulcanizing, I.T, all other kinds of skills including those related to the healthcare sector, so that they are more easily employable.
One of the problems of Nigerian graduate is that they are not employable, because the educational system (which is another area I am going to reform) doesn’t prepare them to be employable.
Another reform we are going to introduce is bringing capital into our capitalism. My government will set up a one trillion naira venture capital fund that will invest in new businesses founded by young men and women, many of whom are unemployed but may have a good business idea especially if they are now skilled.
The venture capital fund is equity capital and not credit, its not a loan that you have to pay back, the venture fund and you who own the business will go split the profit, and after some years the venture fund would have made it profits and can exit, that’s how the wealth of nations is developed in many parts of Asia, Europe and rest of the world.
I am also going to reform the education system because that’s what creates the human capital that the country has or doesn’t have. Our education system today has totally collapsed, but we are going to invest more money in education, moving the education part of the budget from 7 percent to at least 20 percent in my first year in office and moving progressively towards 30 percent. That increased resources will be invested in teachers’ training. We will retrain the teachers in Nigeria and recertify them to be fit for purpose. We will invest in reforming the curriculum so that our young men and women learn more practical skills, they learn more science and technology, they learn about entrepreneurship so that anybody who graduates from a University for example, must compulsorily know how to own and run a business.
I think our children should be originally taught to think more originally to do research rather than just passing examination. We will invest in educational infrastructure. There is no reason why our schools or government institutions should be so dilapidated that anybody that makes a little money quickly takes his child to a private school. We are going to invest in the public schools so that they become again centers of Excellence and people will stop paying outrageous sums of money to send their kids to private schools. These are some of the reforms I will be bringing to the education sector, which I feel should underpin the economy because of the kind of human capital it should produce.
What is your position on restructuring?
My position is very clear. Not only do I believe in constitutional restructuring of Nigeria, I am the only candidate that has spelt out exactly what I mean by restructuring; others are using it as a political vote catching exercise, but have intellectually conceptualized it and put it out very clearly. I think Nigeria should be restructured in a fundamental manner that involves the creation of a new people’s constitution.
The restructuring of Nigeria should return it to true federalism. Nigeria is called Federal Republic of Nigeria but, in reality, it is a unitary state. There is no real federation in which the Federal Government owns the mineral resources of a country, uses it to generate revenue and then shares the revenue between itself and it sub national units. No, the example of a true federation is that there should be resource control, the regions, all the states should own the minerals under their soil, get their revenues from various economic activities and pay a portion of it to the centre; that’s my understanding of restructuring.
Also, constitutional restructuring should be on the basis of the six geo-political zones and not on the basis of states, because the six economic geo political zones can become geo-economic zones. Each one of them is viable economically, they can have economies of scale, people can manufacture, people can trade within those zones and it will be a market and that’s good for people who live in such region. It will bring development faster. They can also produce for export and they can compete in trade with other regions in the country. I believe that there should be resource control.
I also believe that a restructured Nigeria should be one in which there is separation of religion from the State. I also believe that there should be two tiers of government in a proper federation. You can’t have the federal, state and local government areas; you should have the federal government, which is the central government and the regional government. Those regional governments can create local government areas, administrative provinces These are some of very clear ideas I have about constitutional restructuring, its not enough to just talk about it but to be clear about what we mean about restructuring.
How worried are you about the increasing need to protect votes cast for you?
I am worried, given the nature of government we have today, given the experiences we have in Ekiti and Osun. But I know that federal elections nationwide are different from state election, and it will be more difficult to play that kind of game because voting is taking place simultaneously in many parts of the country.
But I think the citizens of Nigeria should be awake and guard their votes. Political parties should also be ready to guard their votes. We will appoint polling agents across the country to guard our votes.
What is the reason behind your choice of female vice presidential candidate?
I believe this is the first in the history of the country. I selected Mrs. Umma Getso because I found in her something I needed and would be a good compliment to me as a presidential candidate and future president of this country. She shares the vision of our great party the YPP, which is a progressive party that wants to restore the focus of governance on the citizens, not on the vested interest of politicians. She shares this vision and is passionate about the youths and the youths of this country are a strong part of my focus and priority, she is a woman and I belief in empowering women through gender equity, equality of opportunities.
I believe women should increasingly take leadership roles in Nigerian politics and we should address the issues that have systematically kept women down, and she brings all those things to the ticket, and practically it appeals to those constituencies as well. You know we have the youth constituency, female constituency who are parts of the voting bloc.
There have been socio-political upheavals across the country as the 2019 general elections draw closer; what is your impression about the security situation?
The system has been breaking down for a long time. Poverty is rising; unemployment is rising; population growth is accelerating. Then, you have all these scandals all over the place. It tells me that Nigeria needs to move into a different trajectory. Otherwise, the future of this country is bleak.
That’s why I am running for president; I want a Nigeria that works for my children and your children. We should all be involved in creating that sort of Nigeria. That’s why we should not leave our leadership to career politicians who only know about politics but have no sense of leadership. That’s why we have lots of politicians but no leaders in the country, which is why we are going backwards. We need to move into the 21st century and we need to be led, guided by a leader that is competent, has capacity, has character, has vision and compassion for the people of Nigeria
What would you describe as the greatest challenge of Nigeria’s political system at the moment?
I would say it’s not just apathy but the value system that underpins the political process. The value system is one of greed, vote buying and vote selling; the role of money in politics in this country is executing a coup d’ tat against democracy. Real democracy is not about people selling their votes, people need to make informed choices, and for that to happen political education is necessary. Political education is a huge challenge; value system that underpins democracy is a problem. These are the things we need to focus on so that the field becomes a level playing ground because right now it’s in favour of those that have authority, power, and those who have stolen government resources who are now using the resources to oppress our people who they put in poverty. They come back to intimidate them to voting for them one more time, rewarding their failure.
Do you have issues with the Electoral Act as it is today?
Well, it has been amended, and I think that’s an improvement. I am satisfied with the electoral act because it has been amended. President Buhari had to sign it but he refused to sign it before.
Is he a democrat?
There are several young people like you who are contesting for the presidency. Is this not a challenge, considering that they would unreasonably split votes from youths?
I don’t think it is, because my candidacy will appeal to enough people eventually for us to win. It is a democracy; people should make their choice. Real democracy is not about how many parties you have registered but about the process of voting, the integrity of that process. Do people have voter cards? Are people able to obtain voter cards easily? Do their votes count when they vote? These are the things that matter; instead, you are registering thousands of political parties and pretending that you are encouraging democracy.
We shouldn’t however allow this become an advantage to the already established political parties because why there are so many youths running for office today is because of their level of disappointment with the old political order. So, what we should do is come together and select the most qualified, most competent and most prepared among the younger candidates and vote for that person. And I belief I am that person.
With PACT, there has been an effort but it failed because of interests and disunity among the youths?
Yes, that’s what I am saying. There is no need for all these, and sometimes they could be artificial exercises. People should inform themselves about different candidates and vote for whom they want to vote for. If people want to form a coalition, groups of candidates want to form coalition among themselves, why not? So I don’t want to go back to PACT. I am focused on the election in February, and PACT is a distraction.
How worried are you about alleged buying or seizure of PVCs?
The sponsors of electoral malpractices can go on. I was saying that the citizens need to be very vigilant, and not sell their PVC, which is their power. Don’t sell it to anybody. The YPP, my party has been speaking up against vote buying in any form, against intimidation of voters in any form, against misuse of security agencies by privatizing them to the ruling parties as if they are personal security outfit and not the security agents that should protect every Nigerian. We have to rise up against this kind of things and let’s rise up to deliver a democratic revolution at the ballot box in 2019.
Your party doesn’t have a state or local government in its control. Isn’t that a problem?
Why should it have those? Have the elections been held? You can ask that question after the elections. We are going to the elections and we have over 300 candidates down the ballot. The APC and PDP have just few numbers above 400, so we have as many candidates as the dominant parties for various elective positions.
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