Professor Kingsley Moghalu is a presidential aspirant of African Democratic Congresss, (ADC). He was a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria after serving for seventeen years as a diplomat in the United Nations rising to the highest rank of director. He bears his mind on a number of issues ranging from youth agenda, health, economy, and foreign policy with our Correspondent, ‘Seun Ibukun-Oni in an exclusive interview recently. Excerpt
What are you going to do in practical terms in transforming the youths who constitute the largest voting bloc in Nigeria but are improvised and excluded?
I will be the youths’ president
I’m running for president primarily to secure the future of our youths. I have four young children and when I look at them and their commitment to Nigeria, I feel we need to build a Nigeria that works. So, I want to serve as a bridge between the past which has totally short changed Nigerian youths to a future that youths themselves have the experience and take charge of their own future. That is the reason I’m in politics. A lot of people speak about youths but rhetoric to win an election is different from having the passion, the political will and determination to transform and improve the lives of Nigeria’s young people. That is where I think I am different from our politicians.
This starts from the point of knowledge, Benjamin Disraeli the great British prime minister in the late 19th century said, “the youths are trustees of posterity in any nation.” And that is true, the youths shall grow and the old shall pass away. When you are talking about the youths you are talking about the future. Herbert Hoover, a former president of the United States of America said, “blessed are the young for they will inherit the national debt”. He might as well be speaking about the Nigerian youths today. The huge borrowing going on today ‘na who go pay’ it is the young people that will pay. This is why I am in politics to muster the political will to transform the youth.
Let me go into the specific policies that I have, that I hope to use to create a better enabling environment for the youths of Nigeria. I have a seven point blueprint youth agenda. First, if I become the president of Nigeria I will provide temporary unemployment support for youths. That will be a six months maximum benefit after graduation. We will place young people who are looking for jobs who have not found but you will only benefit from it if you are willing to acquire a skill. The point is not to give people handouts but to give people a hand up. Right now, I’m running what we called ‘fish for life’ bootcamp whereby we are trying to train one million Nigerian youths between now and next year in digital skills that will allow them to create their own jobs. Skills like coding, building apps, online advertising and all sorts of things that you can do online and earn decent live. It is free, five days every month young people will receive training. This is in partnership between me and American Online Business School and this program costs fourteen thousand dollars but we have made it free for Nigerian youths who might be interested. This is what I am doing as an individual, imagine if I were the president of Nigeria, I am doing this because of my passion and commitment. If I am in power as the president, I could do a lot more.
Secondly, we will established a one trillion naira venture capital fund that we will invest in equity capital not credit but seed capital for youths to have businesses and create jobs. This fund will be run by private businesses not government because if it is run by government ‘mago mago’ and politics will come into it. We want a fund that actually does what the fund is set up to do which is for young people to run lucrative businesses. Most jobs in most advanced countries are created by small businesses and that is why providing seed capitals for starting small businesses is critical to solving the problem of unemployment. Meanwhile, most youths in Nigeria today are jobless and are hopeless. So, we want to fix the problem of unemployment in a practical way by creating a funding mechanism that will help people in creating their own jobs. It is the private sector not the government that creates jobs. The world has changed, while I was a young man and out of university, most people readily get jobs in government, private sector or companies but the way the world is is different.
That will bring me to the other part of my policy, we will provide innovation funding to finance those who invent new ideas and things by making sure their products becoming mass commercialized so that you will see it in the markets and on the shelves. That is what most nations who have created a prosperous country do because the inventor will have the intellectual property right so that nobody can repeat the product without paying money. The manufacturer makes money; the middle men make money; and the retailers make money. Innovation is the secret to wealth creation and when I become the president of Nigeria we will become a startup nation based on support for innovation, skills and venture capital funding. The other thing is that the fund will also be used to fund unemployment support.
The third thing is that we are going to ensure youth representation in decision making and governance. I intend that fifty percent of my cabinet will be youth and women. My party the African Democratic Congress (ADC) targets 35% for youths and women but I have gone beyond that to give 50% to youths and women so that the youths will have a voice in there today and the future. Not to cram the government with old people and be telling the youths that they should wait until they have finished and they themselves will come. People who have had their youths and did well with it they also want to govern the youths into their old age and into their grave while the youth stand by and be watching them like they are ‘wakapass’ in a movie. No this should not be the case. We will ensure youth representation.
Four, is that you cannot fix the problem of the youths in this country if we don’t fix the educational problem. I have a plan to fix the education system and when I become president ASUU strike will be a thing of the past. It will never happen again because education will be the priority for my government. I will spend nothing less than 20 percent of the federal government’s budget on education. Today, it is a about 7 percent highest for the past four to five years. We must invest in education and investing in education will mean doing some of the following things very specifically: One, we have to retrain Nigeria’s teachers because garbage in, garbage out. We have to increase the quality of those who train our children. Secondly, we have to change our curriculum. I think curriculum for Nigerians should lean towards STEM – science, technology, engineering, math and entrepreneurship because every child should learn in school how to run a business.
We also have to invest in educational infrastructures. If you go to many universities in Nigeria today you will be surprised that the places are dumps, they are looking like where pigs leave and it is even worst when you go to the living quarters of most universities. We need to invest in the learning environment also, the classrooms and teachers’ pay. I was just listening to a radio program today and they were talking about how a university professor in Nigeria earns four hundred and seventy thousand naira a month while an assistant lecturer in Ghana earns an equivalent of a thousand dollars per month. And we have heard how the United Kingdom has profiled Nigerian universities very negatively because they are now increasing doubting the quality of education. If we don’t invest in the education of our young men and women how can we talk about their future? It is education that builds the society and helps the society makes progress. My government, I will be the education president that is what I am trying to say. We will sit down with ASUU and dialogue with them to end this problem forever. If we can spend 4trillion naira on petroleum subsidy while is that we can give 1trillion naira to pay whatsoever it is we are owing the lecturers over the years and fix some of the other issues that are making them to go on strike. But right now I don’t see the political will of the government to sit and discuss with ASUU and that is wrong. Instead you see people whose responsibility it is to solve this problem busy running everywhere for president. They have abandoned their duties and just focused on politics. That is a sad thing but you will see young people will still go and vote for these people because they are in big political parties, APC or PDP. The young people of this country must take control of their future and taking charge of their future begins with the kind of people they vote for.
Fifth, we are going to set up what we call the inter-generational equity council. What is inter-generational equity? It means the equity that young people have in the future of this country. We are going to look at the youth policy and embed it in every facet of our lives so that it not just theory but youth as a part of government; the youth as a part of society that is empowered. One of what will happen when I get into government is that we will memorialize the #endsars protest, we will elevate the tragedy that happened at Lekki tollgate, the massacre among many others we condemned very strongly what happened. We are going to memorialize what happened.
Sixth, we are going to stop police brutality. The police in Nigeria prey on young people because they have good watch, nice cars and they harass them by extorting money from their bank accounts. That is corruption and if you make trouble, they will shot you. This was what happened at #endsars. Armed agents of the state shooting defenceless citizens. We are going to reform the Nigerian police in a way that will make law enforcement worthy and accountable for extra judicial killings. Any illegal use of force their must be an internal accountability within the police force we will set up. If it exists we will make it stronger. These are the specific policies that I have for the youths. I will be the education president. I will be the youths’ president. I will be the president that allows the youths to actually colonize the future and be the colonial power of the future. They are so talented in many ways: music, tech, and they have shown us their talents in many ways.
I’m very young at heart, I see life through the eyes of the youths. I chill with a lot of the musical contents of our youths in the entertainment industry. I’m not old but I’m not in my twenties or thirties. My message to young people is this, you must in 2023, vote for your future not your ancestors.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how fragile our health system in Nigeria is, what do you intend to do differently if you become the president of Nigeria?
I’m going to fund our teaching hospitals more and fund Aso hospital less
I have a personal experience in the health sector. I served in the united nations for seventeen years as a united nations diplomat, rising from the entry level to the director cadre. The last six years of my work with the UN was in the world health organization WHO, where I was the head of global partnerships for the global funds to fight aids, tuberculosis and malaria based in Geneva. This experience exposed me a lot to building health systems. The global funds work is to invest in programs, preventions, treatments and care for the three major pandemics which affect many African and Asian countries including Nigeria. Recently, I served as special envoy of the united nations development programs for post-COVID financing for Africa because COVID’s impact was not just health but has huge impact on financial and fiscal systems in the African continent.
Now, the problems we have with the health care are many: first we have the problem of quality of health care delivery, the problem of access to funding, the problem of very weak workforce, and of course the lack of universal health coverage. About 70 percent of all spending on health in this country by Nigerian citizens are out of pocket. We have the Nigerian health insurance scheme but we need to make it to work for people practically.
Let’s start with investment in health care, the Abuja declaration of 2001 where all the African heads of state met with President Obasanjo hosting the conference and it was agreed that the health budget of every African country should not be less than 15 percent. I will execute this policy. We are going to move the budget for health because health is wealth to 15 percent.
I’m going to invest heavily in the quality of health care service delivery because the quality is poor in Nigeria. We also going to invest in secondary and tertiary health care. I planned that we would build a state of the art tertiary hospital in each geopolitical zones in this country so that we reduce health tourism. For example, we have heard stories about billions of naira budgeted for health care in Aso rock much more than what is budgeted for the teaching hospitals. I’m going to reverse this, I’m going to fund our teaching hospitals more and fund Aso hospital less. Aso rock clinic serves just the president, his family and a few workers but millions of Nigerians who are trying to access primary health care and teaching hospitals around the country are not getting it. So, we must invest in this.
Also, we must retain our health workforce, not everybody that graduates from nursing school or medicine is ‘japaing’. Everybody wants to go abroad and practice. So, when I become president I will not allow this because I recognize that if this continues to happen it will weaken our ability to provide quality health care to Nigerians. We will make the national health insurance to actually work and that means we must fund it effectively. We can subsidize it not on petrol. If you invest 500 billion naira we will develop a very effective transport system that can take care of poor people and you don’t have to be paying fuel subsidy for imported petrol. Of course we will also have to build our refineries because if you subsidize your transport system what you will spend on it will only be a fraction of what you spend on subsidizing fuel. Where you are spending between four to seven trillion naira every year. This is unbelievable, it is outrageous when basic things like health care, education are not being funded.
There is funding that would be made available, there is political will and some people asked the question, where will the money come from? There are many places the money will come from, we are not generating revenue effectively enough in this country. Taxation in this country is so weak and so low. We have some of the lowest taxation to GDP. Our tax to GDP ratio is about 5 to 6 percent, higher than only Somalia and Yemen. Many African countries have a much higher tax to GDP ratio but I’m not a fan of high taxes which is what we have today in Nigeria. I believe we should actually reduce taxes in this country but spread the collection of taxes so that many more millions of people who are not paying taxes pay some amounts, it will generate far more revenue than what we have now which is just high taxes from a few people. 70 million people are supposed to be paying taxes but only about 10 million people actually do. We can find at least another 30 to 40 million people, that is huge revenue for Nigeria.
The COVID crisis showed that we lacked basic state capacity and one of the basic state capacity a country must have is the ability to render services to its citizens. Services such as efficient health care to its citizens effectively. COVID shows we don’t have any health infrastructures to manage the pandemic and if it was not that Africa ended up not being heavily affected by COVID the way it affected countries in the west, we would have been wiped out. I believe God loves us, that he knows we are totally unprepared. We were heavily affected but he ensured we are not wiped out in millions and that is the only saving grace. But we must prepare for the next pandemic.
When we invest in health care we will invest in systems. These are joined up, we have doctors, nurses, drugs, equipments, buildings, other proper trained personnels and the rest of them. It is not enough to manufacture drugs but what is the system of delivering the drugs into the hands of the poor. At the end of the day it is about how to improve the lives of the poor. How do you take them from poverty? Health care is number one.
What will be your foreign policy trust having spent seventeen years at the UN, bearing in mind our directionless foreign policy philosophy for over three decades if you become the president of Nigeria?
Nigeria must be strong at home and powerful abroad
Thank you for that question and I was hoping you asked a question on foreign policy because I have a PhD in international relations and like you said I spent seventeen years as a united nations diplomat. So, I know a thing or two about the world and I have massive global exposure and global networks. The first thing about foreign policy in my own thinking as president of Nigeria is that Nigeria be strong at home and powerful abroad. Your foreign policy is a reflection of your domestic conditions. If your domestic economy is weak, if you are just a country but not a nation and totally divided, nobody will take you serious. Their can’t be a common national ambition. We must be strong at home and powerful abroad. The beginning of our foreign policy is our domestic policy, especially our economic policy, our security policy and governance. When we have these, it will become easier to project power and national interest abroad and you will be respected.
Nigeria has a number of attributes: population, a lot of brilliant people. And I believe we need to start running a foreign policy that puts the interest of Nigerians first. Of course, we have good neighbours and we would be neighbourly and we will also collaborate we a lot of multilateral organizations. We also have our allies in the developed countries and the developing countries as well but I think we should achieve what I call a win-win scenario where Nigeria can collaborate with other nations in the comity of nations without shortchanging its fundamental interest. Nigeria’s first responsibility is to the people of Nigeria not to people abroad. This is the mistake we often make. Charity must begin at home then we take it out. Our foreign policy will be based on the projection of Nigeria’s interest and Nigeria’s influence. We will work with other nations not in isolation including former colonial powers, including countries like Russia and China always making sure it’s a win-win situation. I’m not sure that is what we are getting now because a lot of our foreign policy engagements are not informed by strong intellectual conditions informed by foreign policy practice and theory.
Many people always say practical but the truth is, if you can not think it you can do it practically. If you can’t conceptualize it you cannot execute it. Everything that works in practice well is based on sound theory. And that is why I believe in terms of foreign policy, our diplomats have to be very well trained. I will establish a foreign service commission separate from the civil service commission to focus on the unique needs of our foreign service. We will invest money, I think the foreign affairs budget is probably 1 percent or less of the national budget. For me that is a joke, how do you project a country like Nigeria effectively abroad if you are not spending resources on training, equipping your missions and understanding of the world. We will ensure those who will represent us are well trained. We cannot just see ambassadorship as a place where you send failed politicians on exile. That is not how it works. You ran for governor, you didn’t win and you become an ambassador. There is always a room for the appointment of politicians as ambassadors, every country does that but their must be a balance where career, well trained diplomats are more in number than politicians. The foreign service itself should not be politicized but must be made merit based.
As an economist and a risk consultant, how do you intend to take Nigeria’s inflation to single digit and halt the inevitable debt trap if you become the president?
The next president of Nigeria must have a sound economic mind
The next president of Nigeria must be somebody with a sound economic mind, someone who understands economic fundamentals. As a former deputy governor of the central bank of Nigeria, as professor of international business and economic policy, I have a blueprint to transform Nigeria’s economy. That blueprint let’s talk about debt, first we have to have a moratorium on further borrowing when I become president. Then we have to work on the possibility of debt restructuring. We don’t spend as we spent in 2021, 96 kobo of every 1 naira we earned servicing foreign debt. A country in such a position is practically insolvent even if projections are likely we will continue to pay those debts. You are servicing those debts at the expense of development. That is why Nigeria is not investing in education, health care, and in many other needful areas. And we have to borrow to finance infrastructures and we borrow to just keep the government running. Nigeria government has borrowed not less than 15 trillion naira from the Nigerian central bank, that is one of the reasons we have very high inflation today but many people don’t understand this. When you have too much money chasing too few goods, when the government is spending so much of its revenues or borrowings on recurrent expenditure such as salaries, and unproductive things, then the tendency for inflation becomes very high.
We will have to have a moratorium on borrowing; manage our debt servicing more effectively and inflation will have to be more competently managed by the CBN. When I was the deputy governor of the central bank, we brought inflation down from about double digits of 14 percent to 8 percent before we left office in 2014. We did that by having strong political will and taking the necessary measures. And because we are truly an independent central bank at the time. We were not taking decisions given to us by politicians, we were not going to Aso rock to seek permission for every decision we had to take. The central bank should not be a ministry of the presidency. You have to brief the president, you have to report to the president from time to time on certain specific issues required by the CBN. But broadly, one of the first provisions of the CBN acts is that the bank must be independent in its operations from any external influence. I believe that one of the reasons while Nigeria’s economy has run a ground today is because the central bank effectively lost its independence years ago.
So, there are many ways to reforming the Nigerian economy, the institutional independence of critical financial institutions. There is another critical issue that I have not addressed and that is, what is Nigeria’s economic philosophy? If you don’t have it, then you can’t make economic policy that is consistent and consistently executable. There is a measure of economic intellect to turn the Nigerian economy around. It is not enough for people to just be experienced in banking and all sorts of things, you must understand the economic fundamentals and you must understand political economy. I mean how economic phenomenal combine with politics to shape the institutions and the market place. This is what I bring to the table and many people aspiring to be president today with all due respect to them I don’t think they will bring the same thing as I do.
When I become president I will bring and I believe we will be what I call a developmental market economy. That is, an economy where market allocates resources but the government creates incentives such that things are allocated in such a manner that there is development. Not just the wealth of very specific industrial oligarchs, or individuals but we want to take the poors of Nigerians in there millions out of poverty. This calls for a level of competence. And intellect that I’m sorry to say is not evident today in the management of Nigeria’s economy. I recommended the appointment of a presidential advisory council in my book ‘Build, Innovate and Grow Big’ in 2018 and I devoted a whole chapter to the management of Nigeria’s economy.
First of all when you create a presidential advisory council, it has to be a full time job, it cannot be part time. No serious economy is advised by part time advisers. It is a twenty four hours job, monitoring the economy, inflation, manufacturing, you are monitoring whether the economy is being diversified in terms of its production and exporting value abilities which will bring in foreign exchange and this will help the naira. We have many fundamental problems; we have problems of the naira, forex, inflation, taxation, so, the central bank handles some things; the ministry of finance handles some things; the ministry of trade and investment handles some things; and the ministry of national planning handles some things. The national economy is based on a combination of agencies and ministries. A president like myself, having the knowledge and experience will know how to coordinate all of these agencies to produce a result based on some thinking that I have done and some practical experiences.
If you are the president of Nigeria with all these sound economic, foreign, education and other policies, how do you intend to deal with the civil service who have been described as the oven where corruption is baked?
Politicization of fighting corruption will not fight corruption effectively
You have conflated two things: the civil service and corruption. The two are related but they are two separate issues because there is corruption outside of the civil service. In Nigeria there is corruption everywhere, there is corruption in the political class, the national assembly and the other elected officials are not civil servants but we know there is corruption in those places.
Let me first address the civil service then I will address corruption. The civil service is the engine room of government service delivery. And when you talk about weak state capacity which is the order of the day in Nigeria today, part of it is because the civil service has lost its effectiveness. Some people have gone as far as calling it the evil service but I don’t necessarily share the view. We need to reform the civil service to become effective and strong so it becomes the back bone. This means that the civic service must become independent and strong and professionalized. In Ethiopia, we have a civil service university which trains a cadre of administrator on how to be efficient to deliver programs on time, under budget, and quality assured. So, I will be looking forward to this kind of a thing, can we have a civil service university where people are trained to be effective bureaucrats.
We are going to look seriously into civil service reform when I become president including the bloated nature of the civic service. We will have to measure their numbers with their productivity. If they are too bloated to be productive we will have to look at what to do about it. It doesn’t mean kicking people into the streets with no plans for them. There are ways you can rationalize and pay people to retire early and give them exit packages that they can use to start new businesses. It is not that you will be merciless and throw people into the streets forgetting that they have families. You rearrange it in such a way that over some time, you make it much leaner and more focused.
Corruption which on the other hand could be found in the civic service, the way to deal with corruption is a number of things: one, you need political will to deal with corruption. In Nigeria, when here that people are corrupt the highest thing you hear is that they may be sacked. A few may go to jail. Almost always they are politicians which tells you that the process of fighting corruption is heavily politicized. How many civil servants have you seen go to jail for taking bribe? How many police officers have you seen go to jail for collecting bribe? Very rare. The politicization of fighting corruption will not fight corruption effectively. What will fight corruption is to create a preventive approach combined with impartial accountability. It is these two things that fight corruption. Corruption is everywhere in the world because human nature is sinful but the prospect of going to jail if you commit any crime is what keeps people on the line in America, Europe and elsewhere. It is not that if you look away they won’t do a fiddle but the system will catch them. When I become president, our system will become very technology driven. And transparency will increase by using technology to manage finances. It will be very difficult to fiddle. For example in the awards of contracts, we will have a database where the prices of everything is monitored real-time electronically and every contract that is awarded is accessed against the price in the database. So the components of the price is higher than 30 percent of the price on the database then something is fishy. This is how to fight corruption not to be talking and dancing about it meanwhile corruption is increasing in Nigeria.
We will also begin to train our youths in ethics. Some people in Nigeria today you can’t mend them because corruption has eaten into their bones. But we can train a new crop of young people by exposing them to the subject of ethics compulsorily in secondary schools and university. And of course, the body language of the leadership is very important. How the president lives, who associates with and things like that also create aspirations in the citizens. If they always see the president associates with corrupt people maybe because he wants to fund his party this kind of thing sends the wrong signal. When the president is seen with a people that have very strong moral values, it raises the level of commitment.
What are your plans to guarantee health security for Nigerians and how do you intend to change the dire maternal mortality index in Nigeria?
Nigeria cannot keep waiting for foreign donor aid
I know according to the rankings of WHO that Nigeria is at the bottom of the ranking on health care and this is sad. One of the ways to solve this is to invest in primary health care system because that is where you catch these things early. Primary health care includes, maternal mortality, which is a specific subset of primary health care. For example, 80 percent of the funding for treatment of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV which make life short for people come to Africa but you find out that Nigeria keeps waiting for foreign agencies like the global funds; PEPFA in the United States and a lot of other foreign aid mechanism to be the ones that fund most of the health interventions. This is a reactive approach to managing health care. The proactive approach is that you should find the resources and you should invest in maternal mortality. It means fighting malaria, investing in quality child birth services in rural areas. The diseases that take the lives of children at birth must be invested in, with the right types of doctors and nurses. And we have to use e-health, we can do mobile clinics around rural areas until we have the necessary physical infrastructures.
There are many intelligent ways we can use to improve quality health care at the grassroots where many people don’t have access to health care. The issue of universal health coverage, who pays for the health care that poor people may want because they can’t pay many of them don’t show up, they go to quacks, native doctors or chemists. And a lot of health education will also go on at the grassroots. We must make sure that our children are born healthier and they live longer. Simple!
The two dominant political parties, the APC and PDP have amassed massive financial war chest to finance the forthcoming election, what are your chances of winning running on the platform of the ADC?
We have a plan to win this election
There is a challenge of translating the potential for good governance into reality because to do that in a democracy we must actually win election. We have a plan to win this election. I don’t want you to be confused by hundreds of aspirants that are showing up, after June 3rd, the smoke will clear and we will know who is standing in the field. That is when the game begins. I remember the great Muhammed Ali, and his strategy, the rope and doggy, when he was boxing and he will hang back on the rope and his opponents will punch themselves out and by the fourth, fifth rounds they are getting a bit tired and Ali start bouncing and comes in with his famous left hook and they are on the canvas and the referee is counting one, two and you know I am taking the strategy rope and dopey in this particular election. I have run before for president in 2019 and I learned many lessons.
One of the things we want to do in the ADC is that we are trying to build an effective structure across the whole country. A structure that is geared to win and we will be present in every ward in Nigeria because of the ground game.
Two, we are going to be working on having adequate resources to be able to put up a strong electoral fight. We will not be able to have the huge resources of the politicians who stole our common wealth but you see money is not everything in politics. Money matters but it is not everything. Somebody can have 100 billion to run a presidential election and another person can have 20 billion and still defeat the one with huge money. What you need is to do the things you need to do. Working with people who are like minded and who believe enough in the vision that I as a candidate will be putting up.
The next thing I want to say is that we can win if you the ordinary Nigerians who think you are fed up with what you are getting from the APC and PDP over the past twenty something years decide to vote for people like me. I will become president if you vote for me. It doesn’t matter what I do, I can hang myself in front of a tree but if you don’t change the way you think, it will not change anything. If you don’t stop the worship of small things, if you don’t stop the worship of those who have made your lives jobless, hopeless, no NEPA, no electricity, nothing. If the people who are responsible for these sorry states of affairs are still the ones you are still going to vote for , then, don’t come and ask me how I’m going to win. You sabotage the prospect of your own liberation.
Nigeria is blessed with a huge hydrocarbon deposit with a huge prospect for alternative energy too. What will you do to tap this energy for the benefits of Nigerian?
We will focus on natural gas and its applications
I’m going to focus on developing and strengthening our energy and natural gas policies. And I am going to go heavily into renewable energy. Solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and all kinds because this country is blessed with a lot of alternative sources. Do you know that all the horrible wastes packed up in cities can be converted into energy? This is what I talked about as innovation and we are going to bring people who have the scientific knowledge of what to do, how to turn these things into energy and back them up with government policies and incentives. Private sector investors that can provide solar and other forms of renewable will be encouraged. I will encourage renewable energy to be used in residential areas of the country and shift the hydropower to the industrial areas of the country like Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Aba, Onitsha, Nnewi, and other places. We are going to move the current generation of power from 4000 megawatt to about 10, 000 megawatt hopefully within 4 years. We have to invest in the industrial production centres because 50 percent of the prices of goods produced in this country is generator cost. The generator cost is factored into the prices of goods and that is why we have high prices of goods and one of the reasons interest race are high because the infrastructure is weak and makes capital expensive. If the bank is running two generators to ensure light does not go, of course they will input it into the cost of loans they are giving you because they are a company not an NGO. So, how do you expect a cheap loan. We must deal with the infrastructure that affects our productive and electricity is number one.
That is why I am taking the approach of investing heavily and take the approach of innovation and renewable energy in looking at electricity.
And when we talk about energy more broadly we will focus on natural gas and its application rather than crude oil as such. The age of crude oil is going to come to a close in maybe 30 years.
What are you going to do about untapped resources spread across the country, resource control and the diversification of the Nigerian economy?
Exporting natural resources and importing refined products is the recipe for poverty
That’s a very good question and I think the first place to start is to begin a process of manufacturing consensus. That means we must bring all Nigerians to the table and that’s my work as the president to say this is the vision and I think this where we should go. When we talk about constitutional restructuring that can create resource control, we must show every part of Nigeria how it will benefit them. There are so many natural resources in this country, in the northern part of this country especially, it has not been tapped at all. The oil in the Niger Delta is just a tip of the iceberg but it has not served us well so we must learn a lesson. The policy that I will drive if I become the president is that their can’t be exploration of any natural resources without adding value to it before exporting. We will not be exporting natural resources and be importing refined products that is the recipe for poverty. That is why Nigeria is poor today after 60 years. I’m going to come with our policy with a paradigm shift. We will use value addition, called beneficiation inside Nigeria before you export. My investment attitude with foreign investors is that come with your resources and you will first establish an educational institution that trains young men and women on how to add value to the product before export. You are creating jobs and you are making the economy diversified. You have to be proactive in managing the economy of Nigeria. You can’t just sit back and allow people do what they like because they are ‘investors’. That is the role of government to set the guidelines and allow a level playing field for competition by the private sector. We want an investment environment that will be beneficial for not just for the investors but for Nigeria and the citizens of Nigeria.
We would encourage the development of natural resources across the country but I want you to know that natural resources is not the basis of wealth for many nations. We think we are blessed by natural resources, the real natural resources is the productive knowledge and that is why the educational system is important. That’s what creates the skills, and the productive knowledge through with Japan which has nothing in its soil, Switzerland nothing under its soil, South Korea nothing under its soils but they will come to countries with so called natural resources, take it raw and turn it into advanced products and sell it back to you and they are making the money and you say you are blessed. I’m sorry, who is blessed? The person who is blessed is the person with the productive knowledge.
Now to resource control, if you have a situation where everyone agrees to restructure the country constitutional, it means nobody is a loser, everybody is a winner. What will I do as president? I will say, areas where we have this natural resources that have not been developed, maybe we have a transition period of seven years, while we are still on the restructuring as the constitution provides, this will give the areas of the country which may not have developed their natural resources time to do so. So that nobody is cheated in the ‘arrangement’. It is practical, pragmatic and knowledgeable.