In the last few days, I have had the opportunity of watching the presidential declaration speeches of popular leadership coach, Fela Durotoye and a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Kingsley Moghalu. Without a doubt, both men are outsiders as far as contesting the 2019 presidential elections is concerned and will need to work in multiple measures than the eventual candidates of the frontline political parties to stand any chance of victory.
There are a number of other outsiders for the election including Adamu Garba II who has since 2017 indicated his intention to contest the presidential election and former Cross-River state governor, Donald Duke who appears to be treading with abundant caution in declaring his ambition.
There are a few similarities between Durotoye and Moghalu in their declaration speeches. They both identified Nigeria’s existential issues and concluded that the present political class is neither competent nor patriotic enough to address the nation’s challenges. The two men however differ on the path forward. While Fela announces the political platform on which he seeks to realise his ambition, Moghalu does not and rather stresses his immediate focus would be on enlisting popular support for his mission.
There are a few other noticeable differences in the two declaration speeches: Fela appears to be sacrificial in his quest, almost resigning to a fated defeat before the race has begun but hopes that his participation would spur many more patriotic young Nigerians to engage the political process. He perhaps envisions himself as a seed for the ‘running for a new Nigeria’ project, being prepared for planting and certain of a harvest but unsure of the time of harvest.
Moghalu on the other hand appears convinced he has arrived the scene at just the appropriate time to salvage the situation. He is clear enough about his desire to take the oath of office as Nigeria’s president on May 29, 2019 and identifies what his priority policies will be. He talks about being ready from the first day of taking office and announcing the principal officers of his government within 48 hours of being sworn in. Concerning the country’s political structure, he promises to lead a consultative political process to birthing a restructured Nigeria in 2 years while also ensuring gender parity and inclusive participation of Nigerians in diaspora in the governance of the nation.
There are a few questions to ask about his plans for the economy but one must first acknowledge that they are audacious. It is however important to seek to know how Moghalu’s government plans to fund the recruitment of 1.5 million policemen, float a N500 Billion venture capital fund for job creation, stimulate investment in renewable energy supply for residential consumers, build world class hospitals in each of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones and ensure the allocation of 20 percent of the federal budget to just the education sector and another 15 percent to the health sector whereas Nigeria presently allocates only 7 percent and 3.5 percent to the two sectors respectively.
As a former deputy governor of the CBN with some impressive results to show for it and his reckoning for contributions to the development of some other countries while he worked at the World Bank, one definitely must give Moghalu the benefit of doubt that he has probably done the needed arithmetic but we must nonetheless ask to be shown the workings. The present government made similar if not more ambitious projections and has significantly racked up foreign debt in its bid to implement its infrastructure renewal agenda.
If Nigeria’s debt profile, per the Debt Management Office (DMO), went from approximately N12.06 trillion in June 2015 to N20.373 trillion by September 2017, with the federal and state governments still out to acquire more debt to meet infrastructure obligations, it is only needful that any presidential aspirant intending to cause a significant change in Nigeria’s infrastructure landscape also reveal how it would be achieved and what impact on the debt profile to be expected. It will similarly be helpful to see the presidential aspirant’s proposed strategy for attracting more foreign direct and portfolio investments into the country.
Beyond the snippets of his vision so far shared, a thing must also be said about how Moghalu seems to be borrowing a few things from the American politics playbook, especially that of the first Black American President Barack Obama. Moghalu launched his book, ‘Build Innovate Grow: A Vision for My Country’ two days before his presidential declaration and many will recall Obama’s bestselling book, ‘Audacity of Hope’, launched two years before his election as America’s first black president in 2008. There were similarly a few similarities in the approach to oratory, espousing family values and crowdsourcing support for the campaign. Unlike Obama who had his roots deeply integrated into the soil of the Democratic Party in the US, Moghalu appears to be waiting for his ‘coalition of real Nigerians’ to decide the party on whose platform he would contest the 2019 election just a year away. He is however presently crowdsourcing ideas through a dedicated website. I doubt he needs to be told the heavy limitations of this approach but fortune they say, favours the brave.
Durotoye for his part is clear about the political party he seeks to represent at the polls. He has joined the Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN) with the claim that the party’s ideology resonates with his even though he fails to immediately make us understand what that ideology is. While Durotoye should be the one selling his agenda himself, he has placed the burden on the voters to either go find out his plans wholesale or wait for him to share in bits as time goes by. I do not think we have enough time for that and have taken a cursory look at the ANN manifesto, coming to the conclusion that it is hardly different from the general statements of purpose to be found in the manifestos of the establishment parties like APC and PDP. Durotoye clearly needs to do more to show he is in the race for more than just whipping up the sentiment of his followers. He needs to communicate his policy considerations in clear terms so that members of the electorate can fairly access them. Until then, there is not much to be said about his aspiration.
Like the other outsiders who have announced their intentions, Moghalu, Durotoye and Garba will contend with the lack of grassroots structures able to comfortably bear their ambitions. They are presently trying to fill this gap with traditional and social media presence but there is only so much the media can do in a country where the majority of those who vote do not necessarily follow analyses of events or possess the range to follow through with policy debates. It will be nice to see what portions of the enlightened populace they can individually draw to themselves but at the end of the day, victory at the polls will be determined by a lot more than we are able to immediately discuss. I wish them well.