Professor Moghalu is definitely a cut above the rest! His titles include Political Economist, Lawyer, CEO, Central Banker, UN Diplomat and Thought Leader. In my profession, I have met my fair share of public servants, diplomats, politicians, but I have not met anyone who left a deep impression in me like the man who dignifies my page this week. He is a worthy son of Igbo land who has proven his mettle both in our country and beyond. He is a global leader who has made contributions to the stability, progress and wealth of nations, societies and individuals across the frontiers of academia, entrepreneurship, the banking sector and economic policies. A one-time Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, he worked for the United Nations and is a law school professor at the prestigious Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA. He has officially declared his intention to run for the presidency in the upcoming 2019 election and I was at his Enugu residence recently to hear his solutions to Nigeria's problems. Please enjoy the first part of my interview with one of the most cerebral minds I ever came across.
Sir, kindly introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu. I come from Nnewi North Local Government Area. I'm running for President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2019. I served as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009 to 2014. Before then, most of my career was in the United Nations where I served for 17 years. I am married to Mrs. Maryann Moghalu and we have four children. I have most recently been a professor of practice in International Business and Public Policy at the Fletcher School and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts in USA. Right now, I founded and I run the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation, a Think Tank based in Abuja, Nigeria.
What are your economic plans for the transformation of Nigeria?
Well, Nigeria's economy needs to be made much more productive. The economy depends largely on revenues from the sale of crude oil and that is wrong. I need to enlighten your readers on the difference between Monetary Policy, Fiscal Policy and Foreign Exchange Policy. Monetary Policy is about how we control the Naira supply and how that affects the prices of goods. The Fiscal Policy is how we budget, how we get revenues from oil or other sources and how we spend through the budgets. Foreign Exchange Policy deals with the factors that affect foreign exchange and how the naira measures up against foreign currency and how foreign currencies come into the country or can be used. So, that's the general outline. In terms of the economy, the fundamental problem we have in Nigeria is that the Nigerian economy is not productive and that is why my vision for Nigeria's economy is a vision of an economy that is driven by innovation. It is driven by innovation when we have young people who invent and produce new things through technology or come up with new ways of doing things. That's what Innovation means and we want this to drive the economy. I'll give you an example of the young man who manufactured the “NEPA less” iron. That's a pressing iron that can work without electricity of any type. The only other iron that does that is a charcoal iron which is very native and old fashioned. Somebody invented and manufactured a new iron that can do this, but have you ever seen that iron in the market? So, under my economic policy, for example, we would invest in the mass production of this type of iron and all Nigerians can use it and draw the benefit from it. As this iron is mass produced and sold, there'll be wholesalers and retailers, thereby creating a new line of work for many people in the value chain. We would do this through a venture capital fund that we'll be establishing. That fund will have a minimum of 500 billion naira that the government would put in and then, another 500 billion that foreign investors and private investors will invest. That's one trillion. That fund will be invested in businesses for a lot of unemployed Nigerians so they can start new businesses and employ a lot of other people who are unemployed. A lot of businesses can be created like this around the country. This is how jobs are created in modern economies. The government does not create jobs. The government creates an environment while the private sector creates jobs. So, we would stimulate that environment to become a job creation machine. So, this is a very important part of our economic plan. We will have industrial zones where manufacturing will take place for exports and we would also encourage agricultural processing, using agriculture to industrialize Nigeria. That is what we would focus on. And also, using innovation in agriculture. Bringing in high yield seedlings that can produce a lot of food. So, these are some of the ideas I have for the economy. We're going to set the economy free from the government. The government will only regulate the market place. The government cannot be the market place. We have seen that the government cannot run enterprises in this country successfully. But we will not want public enterprises sold to political cronies. Things will be done transparently so that genuine private sector capital can be used to drive the Nigerian economy based on innovation and some other things. We are going to abolish the Land Use Act. We are going to move for a constitutional amendment to abolish it because there is a lot of capital trapped inside land ownership. When the individual is not the ultimate owner of the land because the government owns the land and you are only leasing it with a certificate of occupancy, this restricts economic growth. When we remove the Land Use Act and remove all the bureaucracy that goes with it, individuals can transact on their land. Why must the government be the one transacting on land business? The Land Use Act is repressing the economy. So, these are some of the measures that we would take to set the economy free on a path to inclusive growth. We are not going to be relying only on oil to run the economy. No. I will privatize the refineries. The government will have no business running the refineries. NNPC will be partially privatized. That is why Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) works and they run at profit. NNPC does not make profit because it's just a port where government uses money however they like it. So, these are some of the ideas I have for economic reforms in Nigeria.
Let's talk about Power. How do you intend to tackle the perennial problem of power that has still not been solved even in spite of the privatization of NEPA?
The privatization process did not go very well because most of those companies were sold to big wig political actors who did not have the skills to manage those enterprises and that's why we have the problems we have today, plus of course, there's just the whole question of the economics of it all. Nigerians don't want to pay the tariffs that they need for reliable electricity to be provided for them. The electricity providers say, 'we are a business, you must pay the tariffs first'. Nigerians say, 'give us, let us be sure of light first.' But you know, my approach to power is very simple. First of all, we're going to remove electricity from a centralized grid system to a decentralized one. The Nigerian grid will not be centralized under my presidency. Again, we are going to move hydroelectric power and gas powered power towards industrial manufacturing and we are going to encourage the creation of the new market for renewable energy. That is, solar power and other things for households and just ordinary users of electricity. But industries will use more of hydroelectric power. One of the results that will come out from this new approach is that when industries can run for 24hrs without generators and be productive, the price of goods in this country will come down and that will be better for Nigerian citizens. So, we're going to create a new market for renewable electricity including solar and other types of renewable energy. And that's the job of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) - to create a new electricity market.
You promised to allocate 20% to education in your budget., what other industries would lose out if you give that much to education and where exactly are you putting it that other administrations haven't?
It's not about losing out. It's actually for the benefit of the country. Every country is only as strong as its educational system is strong because it is the educational system that produces the citizens that run the economy and then, lead the country. Therefore, education is job number one. So, investing in it is actually investing in the future of Nigeria. So, education will be 20% of the federal budget, rising progressively to 30% over 8 years. We are going to focus on that and inside the education reform, we will invest in teacher training because the students are only as good as the teachers who train them. The teaching profession today has become very weak. A lot of teachers are not skilled. So, we have to retrain the teachers to be able to bring up children who are competitive in the 21st century world. Secondly, we would reform the curriculum towards science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship so that kids who graduate are employable and have the skills to set up their businesses. When you complement this with the venture capital fund we're setting up, you will see the complementarity between the two. Thirdly, we will invest in how children learn. Nigerian students just learn through rote learning. They just cram their notebooks and reproduce in their exams. That is not the way modern societies function. Children should be trained to think originally. Original thinking is important. So, we're going to change the way kids learn and encourage more of individualized research and thinking alongside learning what they have been taught. They should be allowed to have room to bring their own ideas into the classroom. We will also invest a lot in educational infrastructure, but first, we must invest in the teachers. If you don't invest in training the teachers, if you bring in a lot of educational infrastructure, they can't use it. It cannot necessarily benefit the institutions if the teachers don't know how to use these computers and modern learning aids and so on, but educational infrastructure is important. We also have to look at the whole remuneration of teachers in the educational system and justly repositioning teachers in our society and bringing them back to their place of honour where they used to be.
To be cont'd next edition