Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Professor of Practice in International Business and Public Policy at Tufts University, Kingsley Moghalu, has said the nation has no choice but to follow the lead of the youth come 2019. He made this remark on Tuesday at the Conversation on the Relationship between Good Governance and Youth Participation powered by the Kingsley Moghalu Youth Initiative. The programme was held at the American Corner, IACD Building, Jericho, Ibadan.
Professor Moghalu, during his address, also emphasised the need for Nigerians to have a worldview that will positively and progressively steer their actions as individuals and as a country. He explained that the country is poor because no priority is placed on knowledge and good leadership, and those who can cause the needed change are the youth who are capable of thinking differently.
“Every day our leaders are watching the oil price. If it is high, they are happy. If it is low, they become sad. Why, because they don’t innovative and productive minds. If you have a worldview, you will know that the wealth of nations can never come from natural resources. Rather, innovation is the secret of the prosperity of the western world. And we too here have to begin to shift away from the oil economy. The real wealth and prosperity of Nigeria will come when we find the young men and women who invent and support them,” the Professor said.
He added: “We have a government that is not interested in innovation, science and technology. They pay lip service to it. In 2012, the budget for science and technology was ₦30 billion, and that was less than 1% of the federal budget. In 2017, out of the total budget of about ₦8 trillion, the amount allocated to science and technology is ₦18 billion. And of that ₦18 billion, 60% goes to recurrent expenditures, salaries, contracts, vehicles.
“As 2019 approaches, our young people should be very mindful of the enormous responsibilities on their hands. You have the chance to change the trajectory of this country. You can take it in the direction of real progress, or you can continue to recycle failed politicians. Tell your friends, enough. Let us look for the kinds of candidates that can help us make real progress in this country… It is your responsibility to ensure that, at various levels, more serious people are given an opportunity to serve. And in 2019, many of them will come out because people are getting tired.”
He also recommended the scrapping of the Federal Government Social Intervention Programme, and proposed that it be replaced with a venture capital fund managed by the private sector. He argued that, if handled by the government, the businesses will fail as the funds will be awarded on the basis of ethnicity or party affiliations and not soundness of ideas or competence.
“I have been arguing for the creation of a ₦500 billion venture capital fund based on public-private partnership. Scrap the ₦500 billion social intervention fund that the Federal Government is running. It is money down the drain. It is an empire of corruption that doesn’t create wealth. If you give it [the venture capital fund] to the private sector, they will run it well, and the Federal Government, as an investor, will take a share of the profits. So you own wealth through the investment is increasing and you are creating jobs,” he said.
The programme also featured a panel discussion moderated by Emeka Ossai, Social Entrepreneur and Mandela Washington Fellow. The panellists were Edmund Obilo, Director of Research, Bilficom Media and Systems; Edem Dorothy Ossai, Executive Director of MAYEIN; Timi Olagunju, Lawyer and Co-Founder of Youths in Motion and Babatope Onikoyi-Faladem, CEO of Onikoyi Hamilton Consulting. Also in attendance at the programme was Alhaji Olaide Olayiwola, Oyo State Chairman of KOWA Party.
Earlier in February, Professor Kingsley Moghalu announced that he was consulting widely to run for presidency in 2019. He had told journalists in Lagos that the time has come for technocrats, intellectuals and those with experience to seize power from Nigeria’s gerontocrats and career politicians.