By Femi Aribisala
IN just a few months, Nigerians go once again to the polls to choose our next president. This is the opportunity we have to determine our destiny. It is a civic duty that comes only once every four years. Therefore, it must be entered into like a marriage; soberly and with full presence of mind.
Of those who have expressed interest in seeking our vote, one man stands head and shoulders above the rest. That man is Professor Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu.
Moghalu has what it takes to be Nigeria’s next president. He is experienced, but not antediluvian. He is young but not naïve. He is not a lackey of the old guard but not abhorrent to them. He has both a national and an international pedigree. Moreover, he is a visionary, very intelligent and highly driven. He is our very own Emmanuel Macron, a man destined to change the course of Nigeria’s political landscape.
With Moghalu’s election as president, certain problems that have bedeviled us of recent will be things of the past. With President Moghalu, there will be no more apologetics for the murderous onslaughts of Fulani herdsmen. As a matter of fact, one of his cardinal policies is to increase the Nigeria Police from its measly 350,000 strength to 1.5 million.
With President Moghalu, there will be no more agitation for the dismemberment of Nigeria. Instead, his very election will heal our wounds and calm frayed nerves. What he proposes is a return to “true federalism.” Says Moghalu: “The political and constitutional structure of Nigeria affects its economic management, in our case in a very negative manner because the potential productivity of the country’s component regions and states is suppressed by the rent-seeking politics to control absolute power at the centre and dispense patronage. This is part of why constitutional restructuring for a true federalism is essential.”
With President Moghalu, politics will not overshadow policy. Quoting John F. Kennedy, Moghalu insists: “Politics is too important to be left to the politicians.” He says: “It is time to act on the reality that Nigeria will not achieve economic development and transformation on the current trajectory of its politics. The present political leadership class simply does not have the skills and the background that are fit for purpose. Technocratically competent and visionary political leaders are what it will take to reposition the Nigerian economy for sustainable growth and transformation.”
Kingsley Moghalu first came on my radar when Financial Nigeria flew him to London in 2012 to deliver the keynote address at the Nigeria Development and Finance Forum, NDFF. Then, he presented a lucid paper entitled: “Prospects of Financial Stability in Nigeria and the Links to Economic Transformation.” A year later, I had the distinct privilege of being asked to review his book: Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy’s Last Frontier Can Prosper and Matter; a book that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala describes as “a tour de force on Africa’s transformation.”
As I observed at the time, Moghalu’s Africa is quintessentially African. It is not borrowed. It is not a copycat. It is not stolen. It is not reliant on European blueprints or leftovers. It is endogenously African.
His siren is an African version of Obama’s “yes we can.” Yes, we can transform our economies within a generation. Yes, we can do it without undue reliance on foreign aid. Yes, we can create our own endogenous technology without relying on the pipe-dream of technology transfers. Yes, we can renovate, innovate, and modernise by forming a nexus between politics and economics.
But now, Moghalu’s focus is firmly trained on Nigeria. In a new book, launched just this February 2018, entitled: Build, Innovate and Grow (BIG): My Vision for Nigeria;” Moghalu presents a blueprint for his bid for the presidency. This new book is quite simply a masterpiece of innovative ideas and policy prescriptions designed to renovate, re-build and grow our economy and polity.
What you get from Moghalu is not politics but policy. That is why he needs to stay well away from the PDP and the APC; odd-jobbers mired in politics without policy. Listen very carefully to the cacophonies emerging from these two major national parties at this crunch moment in our history, and you will discover that there is no policy debate whatsoever; just a bitter and vicious struggle for power and patronage that, in the APC especially, even results in killings and assassinations.
We have had enough of this. The time is long overdue for the likes of Kingsley Moghalu to engineer a hostile takeover of Nigerian politics at the ballot box. We need to forge a new departure. What we need are men and women like Kingsley Mogahalu up and down the ballot in order to build a new Nigerian political class, a new Nigerian political culture and a new Nigerian political future.
The Nigerian electorate must come of age. We cannot continue in the failed tradition of electing leaders who don’t have a clue what government entails in 21st century Nigeria. We need to admit that the failure of government in democratic Nigeria is a failure of the electorate. We have failed to put the right people into power. We have failed to apply wisdom in the voting booth. Instead, we have opted for the stolen-monied, the charlatan, the snake-oil salesmen, the smooth-talking babalawos, and the wise-cracking ethnic jingoists.
It is past time for something different; something avant-garde; something forward-looking; something innovative and imaginative. We need something not mired in the age-old ethnic diatribes, something with a new vision and perspective, something that harnesses the latent potentials of Nigeria into our very own Unbound Prometheus. Says Moghalu: “We must create a rising tide that lifts all boats, not just those of relatives and tribesmen and women.”
Our motto today should be out with the old: in with the young. Out with the politicians: in with the technocrats. Out with the primordial: in with the cutting-edge. Out with the ethnocentric and tribalistic: in with the inclusive and nationalistic.
Look around the world we are in today, the old is making way for the new. Look at the success-stories of the African continent and you will find men and women like Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Ameena Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius. These are the beautiful ones the likes of whom are not yet born on the Nigerian political landscape. Look farther afield and you find dynamic men like Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Emmanuel Macron of France. That is the way of the world today that still remains anathema in Nigeria to our detriment.
Not anymore! Says Moghalu: “An economy cannot be managed to progress that is beyond the vision, capacity and competence of the political leadership, regardless of how many brilliant technical economists abound in a country. If the political leadership lacks vision, is venal and focused on other priorities, sound technocrats can’t achieve very much. Their full potential contribution will be suppressed by political decisions above them, usually taken in caucuses at night in places that are not offices.”
What this means is that Nigeria needs to leap-frog into the 21st century. Our persistence in recycling old cargoes must come to an end. We cannot afford to continue to elect abject failures in the hope that somehow, they will one day succeed. We can no longer afford to elect as president politicians who are sick and ailing. We don’t need famous men who specialise in doing nothing. This is the jet age and Nigeria is lagging too far behind. We must run much faster if we are ever to stand the chance of catching up. We have no business with “go-slow.”
Since our gerontocratic oligarchs have refused to go into voluntary retirement, let us throw them all a send-off party in the 2019 election. Let us elect a completely new slate of leadership more in tune with the yearnings of our 200 million population. With the Asian tigers already on the move, let us release the Nigerian cheetahs and the lions from the reservation. It time to renovate, innovate and be motivated. This giant called Nigeria must be woken up from its 60-year slumber.
With Moghalu, Nigeria will have a president bursting with ideas. Hear him: “The fundamental solutions to our crisis of economic growth and development lie in leadership. Not the politics-as-usual of the past, but a new kind of politics of ideas. It will take this kind of politics to produce the vision and political will to undertake the necessary economic and institutional reforms.”
“It will take this kind of politics to educate and mobilise ordinary Nigerians to new ways of economic transformation and their enlightened, collective self-interest in supporting the creation of a new economic paradigm that dramatically cuts down joblessness and poverty. It takes knowledge, which is the true wealth of nations, to even know where to begin, how to proceed, and the direction in which we should be headed.”
When was the last time you heard a speech by a Nigerian leader that was inspirational? My wife heard Moghalu speaking about his vision for Nigeria for the very first time and was mesmerized. “The man is impressive,” she concluded. This should come as no surprise. Moghalu has the pedigree and experience to bring a new dynamism to Nigerian leadership.
Over the years, he has been involved in academia, economic policy, banking and finance, entrepreneurship, and law and diplomacy. Among other things, he was a Professor of International Business and Public Policy at the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA.
He was also Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009-2014, where he led in the execution of extensive reforms in the Nigerian banking system. Before these, he worked at the United Nations for 17 years, rising to the position of Director.
They thought George Weah could not win, but he is now the President of Liberia. They thought Emmanuel Macron did not have a chance, but he wiped the slate clean and became president of France with a brand-new slate of legislators.
If you are one of those doubting Thomases who thinks competent, honest and industrious men like Moghalu don’t stand a chance in Nigerian politics, just wait and see. As he continues to crisscross the country, holding town hall meetings, engaging the man-in-the-street and laying the foundation for a veritable political revolution, don’t be surprised when in February 2019, after the first run-off election in Nigeria’s political history, Kingsley Moghalu emerges as the new president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.