The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Saturday, postponed the 2019 general elections few hours to the polls. The development triggered resentment among Nigerians. In this interview with OZO RAY, the Presidential Candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, speaks on the election postponement and some other burning issues, including why Nigerians should vote for young and vibrant candidates. Excerpts:
WHAT are your feelings about last minute postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections few hours to the polls?
The last minute postponement of the elections without even the courtesy of informing Nigerians two or three days to the time, but took people unawares is unheard of. People woke up preparing to vote only to hear that they will no longer vote. This is utter disrespect for Nigerians, and it shows INEC’s incompetence occasioned by performance failure.
This calls for a consequence! The Chairman of INEC should resign! In a civilized country, this cannot happen. This country has become a banana republic, and we must stop this slide that may lead us into anarchy. How can this kind of thing happen? N640 billion was budgeted for this election. INEC had four years to prepare for this election. This is why we need a new order and new forms of doing things in this country. INEC has shown that institutions in the country are unable to perform. The commission never does anything within time frames. This is one of the major causes of corruption in the country. I am sad! Look at the corps members across the country, who were transported to help conduct the polls. Many of them were stranded. Most of them slept on bare floors in open places all over the country; while INEC officials are sitting at the comfort of their offices earning salaries. For me, I don’t think INEC is ready for the election. The commission can only be seen to be ready when this election is conducted. INEC can only be assessed at the point of performance, and that is for them to conduct the elections.
The PDP has alleged that the Presidency under the APC wants to rig the election. As a stakeholder in the process, do you have any information on that?
I don’t know where they got the information. But I know and believe that the APC are adopting desperate measures to retain power against the wish of Nigerians. The APC is aware that the people of Nigeria are going to vote it out of power; but even this desperate delay will not save the party. A brand new party will win the 2019 presidential election in Nigeria, because people are already tired of APC and PDP. It is clear to everyone that these two political parties cannot manage an institution to conduct elections successfully; so, it’s high time we made away with them.
Can you say that your recent endorsement by the Noble Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has any force on your becoming the next President of Nigeria?
The fact that Professor Wole Soyinka endorsed me for the presidency is historic. It is a unique and powerful endorsement coming from a personality whose place in the world and Nigeria is revered. I am humbled by that endorsement.
In gunning for the seat of the President, did you consider your platform and your place of origin, the South East?
In the South East, there are 10 million registered voters. About 9 million Igbos registered at the Northern part of the country, and, in the South West, a minimum of 7 million Igbos registered. That is about 25 million Igbo voters. This tells you that the myth that the South East is a minority in this country is a joke. There are those of them from the South East, who do not realize that the South East, as a political voting bloc, can make or mar any presidential candidate in this election. Why then do people in the South East feel as if they were politically inferior in Nigeria? This is because the political elites of the Igbos are inflicted with slave mentality. Many Igbo politicians have the mentality of slaves! They have lost their confidence. They are filled with inferiority complex. They feel that they have to be followers in order to survive. Prof. Moghalu does not have political inferiority complex. I am a citizen of Nigeria, entitled to run for the presidency of Nigeria. I don’t believe that somebody should wait for a particular time to run for president. Every Nigerian has a constitutional right to seek the presidency, if such person is qualified.
How do you see the suspension of election boycott by Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB?
I have always felt that the boycott of election by any group of Nigerians will not be in the interest of the country, and also will not be in the interest of the youths. If you don’t participate in the electoral process, people you do not like will continue to rule you with impunity against your wish. I am happy that Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB finally come to the realization that the boycott was just inflicting self damage. I urge voters in the South East and in Nigeria to come out massively and vote for the best candidate, who will take Nigeria to the Promised Land. I am not running to be vice president because, south east are not born to be attached as second class citizens in this country. We should not continue fooling ourselves. Let Nigerians vote for a Nigerian who can do the job. Do not vote for people because you think they can win; but you know they cannot deliver. Vote for the person who has a global experience and has worked to improve other economics. Vote for the person that will provide electricity, schools, hospitals and jobs. Vote in a candidate with open doors to the many problems of the Nigerian economy.
You left the banking industry to join politics. Can we really know what motivated you to delve into politics after giving your best in the public sector?
Well, of course, you know I served a term of office of five years as deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Before then, most of my career was in the United Nations where I served for 17 years. After my time at the Central Bank of Nigeria, I became a distinguished Professor of practice in International Business and Economic Policy at the Tufts University in Maschetuess, USA. I came back in 2017, and set up my Tink Tank, The Institute for Governance And Economic Transformation (IGET). In February, 2018, I launched my bid for presidency; because I felt that the old and recycled politicians as represented by the PDP and APC cannot take Nigeria into the future. Poverty is increasing, unemployment is increasing, population is rising. The truth is that our future is headed into a nasty crash if any of these two political parties continues to lead Nigeria. I am also running for president because I discovered that my being a technocrat is not enough to transform Nigeria. The only people, who can transform Nigeria are the political leadership, who have the legitimacy of elected authority. But it is unfortunate that the politicians we are electing are not leaders; and they are in politics just because of their stomach. Politics to them is the biggest business in Nigeria today; and that is why majority of the politicians are in politics and not for the people. If we had a competent leader who has political authority, then, when you combine it working with the people, it brings results. This country can be transformed to be like Malaysia, China, Singapore and Brazil. These people don’t have two heads. The only thing that is making us incompetent is the type of leaders we have; as well as the mental poverty of the leaders we have leading us today as represented by PDP and APC. We are 20 years in democracy in Nigeria, and all we have achieved is to have become the poverty capital of the world. All we have achieved is that we have not moved beyond 4,000 mega watts of electricity. Why should we reward the people who are responsible for the nasty state of life in Nigeria today with another term of office?
What is the spread of your party in Nigeria?
YPP enjoys presence in all the states and the Federal Capital Territory. It has over 300 candidates on the ballot. 22 candidates for Senate,16 candidates for governor, 55 candidates for House of Reps and over 200 candidates for state assemblies; in addition to myself, the presidential candidate.
How could you rate the APC government in power?
I am a professor and I grade according to performance. I grade APC ‘F’. There is no redeeming feature. APC does not have a ‘D’ or a ‘C’. Why is it an ‘F,’ because of the core questions people set for them. They failed exams people set for them. They failed in fight against corruption, security and economy. These were the three promises they made and people voted for them with an exam on these three things and each one of them is a failure. Nigeria is more insecure today than it was when President Buhari came into power, in 2015. Boko Haram is raging, kidnapping is on the rise, including across President Buhari’s home state of Kastina. Poverty is at its all time high as people are in extreme poverty. Why would one know all these and still go for the PDP or APC.
What was your legacy at the CBN?
At the CBN, I led massive reforms of the financial system. We made sure that no bank failed. We reformed the structure. We created new banking model, which created room for banks to be stable. We established the global banks, a national bank and a regional bank, so that it is easier to access finance. I led a lot of activities in development finance that provided single interest loans to many businesses in the country. As deputy governor of CBN, operations, I led the reforms in the payment system that introduced the BVN, because we were frustrated that the national identity management system was not moving at the pace it should be moving; so, we decided to do something through the introduction of the BVN which is under our regulatory control. I made sure no bank in Nigeria failed. I made sure no depositor lost a kobo after the 2008 global world financial crisis, compared to that with the failed bank system of the 90s where people lost billions of naira in our banks. My record at the CBN was a record of success. If I could do that at the CBN, imagine me as the President. It is on record that I am the first Presidential Candidate to have nominated a woman as vice president. By God’s grace, we will be the first presidency to give women a proper platform in Nigeria.