The Presidential candidate of the African Development Congress (ADC), Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in this exclusive interview with National Daily says Nigeria must create wealth efficiently through market mechanisms, or else, the country will simply be recycling poverty.
Would you consider direct primaries for nomination of candidates most appropriate for political parties in Nigeria?
Yes, I do. It will empower members of political parties who are ordinary Nigerians, which is the whole point of democracy… That would be much better than what we practice now which is essentially political oligopoly and political oligarchy where “godfathers” decide political outcomes and the citizens of Nigeria who are supposed to decide who should lead at various levels of political leadership are merely pawns and a mere rubber stamp. So, we should end “rubber stamp democracy” after 22 years and move towards real democracy.
Has democracy delivered the needed socio-economic development in Nigeria, 22 years after?
The question answers itself if you look at the result. What’s the result of our democracy after 22 years? Increasing poverty with 100 million Nigerians (nearly 50%) living in absolute poverty and overtaking India as the world’s “poverty capital”; unemployment at a very high rate of 33%; and youth unemployment at over 50%; terrorism and general insecurity. Life has become progressively cheap in Nigeria. The people are fast losing all hope of a better future. Why do we have this very bad report card of 22 years of democracy? Because we have so far refused to elect visionary, competent, and new generation leaders. Instead, we keep recycling old cargos that have nothing new to offer us. So, it is us, Nigerians, that have created our own misfortune; but we can correct this mess in 2023 if we summon the will and courage to do so. We must make our democracy work for us, not against us, by making a clean break with the past in 2023. We need a visionary and technocratically competent leader as President of Nigeria in 2023, someone who truly cares about the people, does not have a track record of corruption, who can secure us from terrorism and banditry, reform our economy by making it more productive and creating jobs for millions of our youth, and restore Nigeria’s place in the world through adroit international relations. This is what my aspiration to be President of Nigeria and my track record of leadership represents — a break with our sordid past and a shift to a more hopeful future.
Do you believe in the possibility and workability of merger of political parties to form a third force towards the 2023 general elections?
Yes, I believe so, and I believe it will happen. I will lend my own humble effort towards that outcome.
Do you think that Nigeria will have the secured environment for conducting the 2023 general elections?
I certainly hope so, but that is the responsibility of President Muhammadu Buhari, the security agencies, and INEC.
On rampant defection of politicians: can you say political parties lack ideologies, or Nigerian politicians are seldom guided by ideological fault lines?
That is obviously the case. Our traditional political elite in APC and PDP don’t believe in any real ideology. They just play “amala politics”, food-is-ready politics. That is why there is no development happening, and the quality of life of millions of our people has gotten worse. Politics for them is about sharing the privileges of power and office amongst themselves and taking turns at it.
Do you subscribe to agitations for power shift to the southeast in 2023, or candidates should emerge on merit?
In 2019, I was a Nigerian candidate for the Nigerian presidency, when some people campaigned to hold on to power through ethnic sentiments. Many people said to me: “we like you and we think you are a great candidate, but it is still the ‘turn’ of the North. If you come back in 2023, we will consider you strongly”. In 2023, I intend to still be a Nigerian candidate for the Nigerian presidency, not an ethnic candidate. What we need most in Nigeria is a competent president, and I believe I have that competence and vision to offer.
However, as a practical matter also, I think that our unique political situation, and the fact of how divided and unstable our country has become, means it would also be wise for us to kill two birds with one stone by seeking out leadership competence from parts of the country that have not been given to opportunity. But the number one factor should be the vision and capacity of the candidates for leadership. On that score, I believe I am at the very least as good as anyone else if not better; so, there is no need for me personally to seek votes simply on the basis of what part of Nigeria I come from. To me, that is below my level, and I have much more to offer Nigeria than a mere ethnic argument. What I offer Nigeria is a vision to become a modern, 21st century nation that is united, stable, and prosperous.
As a potential presidential aspirant, what sort of reform do you think Nigeria should adopt for economic recovery?
I think we need today’s incompetent government and the vested interests it champions and protects to give way to a new leadership that is economically sound, technocratically competent to lead in the direction of reforms. These reforms must generate domestic resources, increase productivity and exports of value-added goods, and be philosophically consistent. I believe in strategic or development capitalism that creates wealth and assures social security for the poor and the aged on the basis of a productive economy. We must create wealth efficiently through market mechanisms before we can redistribute it, else we are as we are doing now, simply recycling poverty. We must stop borrowing irresponsibly as we are doing today, mortgaging the future of our country’s youth.