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2019: Time to build, innovate and grow (BIG) by Kingsley Moghalu

THE choice that faces Nigeria in the 2019 presidential election is one between progress and retrogression, between scary poverty and the prospect of prosperity for millions of our citizens and not just the elite few, between our freedom and our continuing false imprisonment by the political elite that have brought us to our present sorry pass. I want to lead our country as its president because I have a BIG vision for the future of our children and youth.

Kingsley Moghalu

On current trends of what passes for governance in Nigeria and despite our dynamism and resourcefulness as a people, that future is a bleak one. Except, of course, something radically new, different and bold happens in our politics and leadership selection process. Millions of our countrymen and women share my vision. That vision represents the opportunity to move our country in a new and different direction from the inevitable limitations of our recycled and failed politicians. It is time.

Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world. According to the World Poverty Clock we overtook India in February as the country with the greatest numbers of people who live in extreme poverty. India has a population six times the size of Nigeria’s. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has noted that poverty is increasing in our country and that our economic policy is “muddled”.

World’s greatest importer of Premium  Motor Spirit

We remain the world’s greatest importer of Premium Motor Spirit (refined petroleum) while we export crude oil. How else shall we define madness? Because of incompetent leadership, our government insists on controlling and subsidizing the importation and pricing of PMS. Instead of deregulating the downstream petroleum industry, Nigerians sleep at fuel stations as a result of artificial scarcity whenever this scam is threatened.

This has gone on for 40 years. We should be ashamed of ourselves when we elect and re-elect into office politicians whose failed leadership is directly responsible for our poverty. Meanwhile, poverty and unemployment know no tribe or religion. They are “federal character” realities that are widespread across our country.  We need a paradigm shift. It is time.

A healthy debate has ensued since I formally offered myself to serve our country by leading it towards a very different and better future. That debate is about the possibilities for the victory of a “non-politician” and about the “inevitability” of our career politicians and their financial and political behemoth structures as represented by the ruling APC party and the PDP. Nigerians have become a conquered people, their dynamism and potential neutralized by politicians adept at obtaining power for its own sake but inept at governance and economic management. These politicians have intimidated us into believing TINA (There is No Alternative) to them. Not true. We are now awake. The ground is shifting. It is time.

Let me be clear: we (that is, the movement of those that want a better and different Nigeria to which I belong) intend to win the 2019 presidential election. True, we should not and cannot discountenance the obstacles. But we will execute a winning strategy and ground game across the country with discipline and determination. I will announce in the coming weeks the party platform on which I intend to contest the elections.

We should now elect in Nigeria leaders with a vision, character, and the intellectual and technocratic competence required to confront our myriad problems of nation-building, poverty and insecurity. My vision stands on a tripod:

*First, to heal our country and build a nation;

*Second,  to wage a decisive war against poverty and unemployment, and;

*Third, to restore Nigeria’s standing in the world.

I have offered myself for the task at hand because I have a passion for my country’s progress and because I believe I have been well prepared for that task by the level, quantum and quality of my leadership experience. From nation-building around the world to economic management at home , from international diplomacy to the global academia, I have demonstrated a track record of creating superior value.

Some have questioned my not having the “credential” of being mired before now in the sleaze that passes for politics in Nigeria. That mindset is exactly the problem: we have too many politicians but very few real leaders.  We are all politics and no leadership. This is precisely why we are a poor and dysfunctional country.

We must overcome our problems of poverty in a structural manner that moves millions of our poor and unemployed citizens into the middle class over the next decade.  This requires a certain type of mindset, intellectual capability and philosophical insight, and the ability to assemble a competent team in the government. Combined with the discipline of execution, we will find that the ability to address Nigeria’s problems is not exactly rocket science.

Our nation cannot be built by ethno-religious irredentists who live in the past and whose instincts are based on extremely narrow worldviews. As President of Nigeria, I will provide inclusive leadership that is anchored on a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that unites us all to face the future.  We are aware of the retrogressive thinking and talk about “zoning” — the ethnic turn-by-turn that has hitherto influenced who becomes president. After nearly two decades of democracy since 1999, the report card on the outcomes of this unconstitutional practice that fosters mediocrity is simple: our citizens have gotten poorer and poverty is increasing. As Seun Opaleye, a young Nigerian commented recently on social media, “we have zoned 2019 to competence”. Those who wish to dwell in the past may do so. The world is moving on and, like it or not, Nigeria will move with it. We who seek a better future for our children and youth are having none of the retrogression and mediocrity of “zoning”. In any case it is practiced inside just one or two political parties.  Our population in the New Tribe who are focused on citizenship rather than ethnic tribe and tongue is increasing because a new generation of adults is coming of age.  Thus, I am not and will never be an ethnic candidate for the presidency of our country. I am unapologetically a Nigerian candidate for the Nigerian presidency. We must create a rising tide that lifts all boats, not just those of relatives and tribesmen and women.

A Kingsley Moghalu presidency would be very different from those before it. At a fundamental level, this is because we would bring a problem solving mindset to it. We will consciously govern with strategy, a worldview that we will inculcate in our citizens through the educational system and other channels, and a clear understanding and application of the requirements of good governance. These include effectiveness, accountability, transparency and inclusiveness. We will be ready on Day One, with the most senior appointments and nominations in the executive branch announced within 48 hours.

National security policy

We will secure Nigeria with the effective implementation of national security policy including reforming the police force to become a real one that can guarantee law and order and safe communities. We will do this through massive increases in the police force strength and real training.  I have the political will that is presently absent to ensure the effective control of Nigeria’s porous borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon, a situation that has compromised our national security. We will ranch the herdsmen and address the root causes of the herdsmen crisis, which includes amongst other factors the desertification of northern Nigeria.

A government that I lead will implement the National Youth Policy and the National Gender Policy effectively. This will ensure that we go beyond tokenism in empowering these two substantial parts of our population. Women make up 51 per cent of our population of 186 million people, and there are 60 million youth aged between 18 and 35. Both groups will play a muscular role in my government. We will implement a 50:50 gender parity ratio in political appointments, well above the National Gender Policy recommendation of 30 per cent for women. Competent youth with relevant qualifications and experience will play important leadership roles in the government, ensuring the much-needed inter-generational change of baton in leadership without which any society will enter decline.

Economic vision, talents and youth

Our economic vision of an innovation-driven economy will tap into the talents of our youth. This will create the wealth of nations for Nigeria and shield us from the debilitating boom and bust cycles of an economy on fiscal life support from income from natural resources. We will create an environment for the private sector to create jobs with a public-private partnership venture capital fund of a minimum capital of N500 billion that will invest in new, job-creating start-up businesses to be established by millions of unemployed Nigerians. Our program of economic rebirth will decentralize the national grid and shift power generation towards renewable energy sources. We will undertake a fundamental reform of our healthcare and education systems. The Nigerian Diaspora will play a central, institutionalized role in the building of our human capital.

We will commence a consultative process in collaboration with the National Assembly and State Assemblies to achieve a constitutional restructuring of Nigeria back to true federalism for stability and prosperity within two years of my taking office.

No one says all of this will be easy or will happen in a matter of days or a few weeks. I do not claim to be a magician with a wand or a perfect person. But, like many other Nigerians, I love my country. I care about the daily suffering of our countrymen and women, and the future of our youth, our children, and even the unborn. Together, we all can work to create a better future for us all. It is time.

 

Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, is a presidential aspirant for the 2019 elections and the author of the new book Build, Innovate and Grow: My Vision for our Country (Bookcraft, 2018).

 


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