He is endorsed by Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, former CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, and is trying again in 2023.
The Africa Report: What makes the security crisis in Nigeria different this time?
Kingsley Moghalu: We’re at a decisive moment in Nigeria’s history. Many countries experience low-level insurgencies, and Nigeria has had Boko Haram for the past 12 years.
What is different now is the combination of the terrorism crisis metastasising across the whole country and combining itself with economic collapse. You have a third element: the legitimacy of the Nigerian state is increasingly questioned. Many Nigerians consider the idea of being Nigerian or the idea of Nigeria as meaningless to their lives.
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There’s a lack of vision from the current government, absence of leadership, a lot of corruption in the armed forces and mixed loyalties […] that all prevent an effective conclusion of the war against Boko Haram. The political leadership is driven by a worldview that is just very narrow, very ethnic, clannish.
Are the economic woes just about management or are they systemic?
There’s absolutely shambolic economic management because leadership is not competent enough to understand how to create prosperity. Then there’s the fundamental issue – the constitutional structure of the country that creates incentives for economic and political dysfunction. They concentrate power at the central government level so much, that combined with the reliance on oil, it’s simply become a rentier economy.
Would your plans for constitutional change be divisive because only the southern states want it?
The conversation is shifting. In the beginning, the northern political elite was wary about constitutional restructuring. Increasingly, they have embraced it. Everyone in Nigeria now wants the constitutional basis of Nigeria re-engineered. We should create a new constitution, with a constituent assembly, a new federal system based along regional lines. It will create an incentive for prosperity. There is no region in Nigeria that cannot become self-sustaining economically. It is the present system that continues to create the incentive for poverty.
You are running for the presidency without backing from any of the big parties – isn’t this doomed to failure?
Things seem impossible until they happen, as Nelson Mandela said.
This article was first published in The Africa Report’s print magazine.
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