NIGERIA ON THE BRINK: STATEMENT BY PROFESSOR KINGSLEY MOGHALU AT HIS WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE
17 MARCH 2022
Life in Nigeria is becoming increasingly unbearable for many Nigerians. Our country faces multiple crises, ranging from acute economic difficulties to deepening social decay and continuing insecurity. Rather than the situation getting better, it gets worse with each passing day.
Many fellow citizens can no longer afford a tuber of yam. Fish and other sources of protein, which are particularly essential for our children to grow mentally, have become too expensive for most families. With inflation at above 15%, most Nigerians see continuing decline in their standard of living.
Even those more fortunate have been jolted back to reality with the acute increases in the prices of diesel, now selling above N700 per litre, at a time that power supply has nosedived. Long queues have returned to our petrol stations.
University students are back at home again, less than one month after they resumed after the last strike by the ASUU. The pressure the youth are facing has continued to grow, from harassment by the Police, to high youth unemployment rate of over 40%, forced migration, and social vices and crimes.
The government that was voted in in 2015 to end years of terror fellow citizens in the northeast of the country had been subjected to, has watched as insecurity has increased in its forms and geography. Thus, governed spaces have been shrinking while ungoverned spaces have been expanding. The Police, because of inadequate number strength, training, equipment and internal accountability have been unable to curtail crimes. Instead, some bad eggs in the Force brutalize our youth, giving rise to the EndSARS protest, and perpetrate systemic dysfunction in the system.
The awkward and very painful situation that Nigerians are facing is caused by absence of leadership. Despite the pains that the overwhelming majority of the citizens are facing, and as the 2023 general elections are now less than 12 months away, our traditional politicians have focused on the only thing they do, which is politicking, but without knowing how to do it best to promote national cohesion and progress. And so, while the country is overheating – and by the grace of God we will avoid it burning – our incompetent leaders fiddle.
However, I am convinced that we can overcome these challenges as a country and as a people. It is the reason that I have offered myself for consideration to Nigerians as president. I did this in 2019. I have again offered myself for the Office of President in 2023, as, currently, a presidential aspirant of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
We are not here to say “all hope is lost”. What we are here to say is that there is hope of a turnaround in the situation of the country and in our realities as citizens. We have endured the night, not to remain in it, but because of the hope of a new dawn.
Nigerian remains a blessed land of great potentials. One of the many potentials of the country is the people – our large population, enterprising and youthful. The youth of this country are among the most dynamic and innovative you can find anywhere. I should know, as I practically travelled the world during my 17-year career at the United Nations.
We can bring capital and innovation to transform our agriculture to create wealth and ensure that food is affordable, and that no Nigerian child lacks the nutrition to enable him or her develop and be globally competitive. From Borno to Rivers; from Oyo, through to Benue, Plateau and Adamawa; from Jigawa through the great City of Kano, down to Edo; and from Lagos to Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi through to Cross River, our lands remain fertile, and underneath them are some of the world’s priced minerals. We can turn our agriculture and solid minerals, not only to our engine of growth but also massive job creation. And we can banish the demons depriving us of electricity, because we can invest across the value chain of electricity, and we are blessed with abundant sun to generate and deploy solar energy to power our homes, schools and microbusinesses. With dramatic transformation in the generation, transmission and distribution of grid electricity – which does not have to be centralised – we can unshackle our SMEs, again to create wealth and jobs.
But as we know, our traditional politicians of the APC and PDP have not been able to harness these economic potentials. The reason they have not been able to do it, is because they cannot do it. They cannot do it because they are not trained to do it, and they are obviously far more interested in themselves and their political careers, than in the people.
Therefore, standing between us as a country and as a people, and the prospect of unity, stability and a better life for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, tongue and creed, is the leadership that is appropriately trained, leadership that is competent, leadership that has character, and leadership that cares about the people. In a democracy, such leadership does not elect itself. Such leadership is elected by the people, and given popular mandate and the support, to deliver transformation.
The reason such a leadership has not emerged in Nigeria is because the people have not wanted it badly enough. We have for far too long wanted a leader from our tribe, and a leader with the same religion as us. We have also not had a transformational leadership because we disconnect the training – or lack of training – of politicians from the office they seek to occupy. Good leadership requires more than an education. It is made possible by the combination of the right kind of education and experience.
I have a deep sense that providence has prepared me specially for the job of the President of the Federal Republic, especially at this time. After my years of undergraduate study in law at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I went on to study for a Master of Arts degree at one of the prestigious specialist schools in the United States for training future leaders. And I obtained my PhD from London School of Economics.
My professional and leadership experience has cut across several domains. I spent 17 years working for the United Nations, rising from entry level to the highest career rank. After a brief stint of running my private sector firm of risk management consultancy in Geneva, I was appointed by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). After my tenure, went to the academia to provide practical knowledge to post-graduate students as a Professor of Practice in International Business and Public Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
These training and leadership experience are very much aligned to the core functions of the Nigerian President, which are National Security, Nation Building, The Economy, and Foreign Relations. At the United Nations, I took part in several high-level security operations, undertook key nation-building assignments which entailed post-conflict rebuilding in countries including Rwanda after the genocide, Cambodia, and Croatia. I also played a key leadership role as Head of Global Partnerships & Resource Mobilization in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) fund, the $20 billion Global Fund, that has invested in tackling some of the world’s most demanding challenges in public health.
At home, as CBN Deputy Governor, I led the implementation of the Central Bank’s intervention and reform that saved the Nigerian banking sector during the 2009 Global Financial Crisis. With colleagues, we were determined that no Nigerian bank must fail, and no Nigerian depositor must lose a kobo of their savings. Since they were not the ones running the banks, they should not suffer from the mismanagement of the banks. And this is want happened – with purposeful and competent leadership with a heart for the people – I must say. Apart from bringing inflation rate down to a single digit 8%, we introduced the BVN, which has made the banking system safer and serves as a catalyst for the growth of fintech in the financial market.
I am prepared for leadership.
I want to lead Nigeria, not into the past, but into the 21st century. This Nigeria is for all of us, North, South, East and West. But more especially, this future is for the youth. It is a future of innovation, fintech, artificial intelligence, driverless vehicles, machine learning, e-commerce, telemedicine, etc. To give a snippet of what my presidency promises, earlier this week, my political movement, Moghalu4Nigeria, launched the Fish for Life online training programme that will, over the next 12 months, train young Nigerians on digital skills that will help them create jobs for themselves and supplement their incomes by harnessing legitimate opportunities on the internet.
Before I close, I would like to say that the war in Ukraine presents opportunities and risks to Nigeria and the world. While world peace is already threatened, we are certain that common sense, which avoids mutually assured destruction, will prevail. What should bother us is what would be the place of Nigeria in the realigning global geopolitical and economic landscape. We need a president that understand the issues and that can personally engage world leaders to negotiate for the interest and the space for Nigeria.
Finally, I would like to say that by passing, and signing, the 2022 Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law, the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari, respectively, have enabled a major requirement for making our votes to count in 2023. Hoping that I would become a presidential candidate in that election, my Moghalu4Nigeria and our have started massive mobilisation of grassroots support for our victory in 2023. That victory, which requires your active support, is your victory and it will be a victory for Nigeria.
Good bless you. Good bless Nigeria.
Kingsley Moghalu OON FCIB
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