Moghalu, ex-CBN Deputy Gov. lists ways to eliminate poverty in Nigeria
Professor Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria
By FRANCIS EZEM
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, and a presidential aspirant in the forthcoming general elections in 2019, Professor Kingsley Moghalu, has listed five economic and political directions that would boost prosperity and thus end the worsening scourge of poverty in the country.
These include a worldview or a philosophical foundation for the Nigerian state, an economic vision founded on an economic philosophy that is aligned with the foundational worldview; science, technology and innovation as the driver of the economy; economic complexity, which comprise the manufacture and export of complex products as well as building strong institutions, all of which he said are absent in the country today.
Moghalu, who delivered the lead lecture at the 2018 edition of the Bullion Lecture series organised by the Centre for Financial Journalism in Lagos with the theme: “Overcoming Poverty: The Secret of the Wealth of Nations”, observed that the secret of prosperity does not lie merely in the economic activity of the marketplace, but in the thinking and philosophical mindset that drives such activity.
He also said that if the thinking is absent or wrongheaded, a robust philosophical foundation will be absent, as weak economic policy will be the norm, and that all the market activity will produce wealth for only a few and leave the vast majority behind in poverty. This, he insists is the story of Nigeria today and for several decades ago.
He cited the World Poverty Clock, which says that Nigeria has overtaken India as the poverty capital of the world, saying that Nigeria has the greatest numbers of people who live in extreme poverty, which is to say, those who live on less than the equivalent of $1.90 (N600) per day. According to him, the African Development Bank report shows that 152 million Nigerians, in an overall population of about 190 million, meet the criteria of absolute poverty. This, he further said means that 80 per cent of Nigerians are extremely poor, noting that India has a population that is six times that of Nigeria.
While defining a worldview as a mental understanding and map of the world and how to navigate it, he noted that many but not all have one as individuals, adding that as it is for individuals, so is it for countries, insisting that some worldviews are stronger, more robust, than others, and deliver results accordingly.
“The first basic set of questions a worldview asks and answers are: why is the world the way it is? Who are we as people in it? Where are we going, and how are we going to get there? What is the strategy, the ethics and the knowledge system that will get us there? Any country that fails to ask these basic questions and answer them correctly will remain poor.
“We need a Nigerian national worldview to help us achieve our potential. That potential, which springs from our being a dynamic, vibrant, and hardworking people full of world-class talent, has been much talked about but has remained a mirage. Yes, we are the country of potential, but potential is not a strategy. So was Haiti two centuries ago. After 57 years of independence, it is time we moved from potential greatness while wallowing in real poverty, to actual greatness which makes our poverty mostly history. A worldview will give us the motivation and the tools to shape and meet out national goals because it is the only thing that can drive progress that is genuine, one that we can measure and sustain”, he said.
Moghalu, who doubles as President, Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation IGET, also observed that Nigeria has failed to achieve high-quality economic growth because the country’s economy is managed mostly on an ad-hoc, reactive basis. It is a “survival” economy in which most governments that held political power have had no real economic vision or a strategy to execute such a vision successfully. Most damaging there is little interrogation of either received wisdom based on global economic policy “fashions” or of the country’s own policy assumptions that have been long on populism and short on substance.
“To build a sustainable economic future, Nigeria must now address the aching need for a clear economic vision, situated in a philosophical framework from which economic policy should be derived. Nigeria’s economic policy has not undertaken this kind of self-examination since General Ibrahim Babangida’s military government introduced the International Monetary Fund and World Bank – inspired Structural Adjustment Program SAP in 1986”, he argued.
He said” “My ultimate vision for Nigeria’s economy is one driven by innovation. Innovation-based economies create jobs more easily, as new ways of doing things or new products create new job opportunities in the chain of distribution from invention or innovation to the market. This means that innovation economies create more opportunities for self-employment and the provision of services. Such economies also stay competitive, adapting to the needs of the future rather than, as it is the case with our natural resource dependent one, facing the danger of being left behind by global and market trends and thus condemning our citizens to poverty”.
On science and technology, he observed that the country has a national policy on Science, Technology, and Innovation, practically has no impact on Nigeria’s economy because there is no policy support for moving the products of innovation into the marketplace through mass production and marketing distribution, and because the incentives for innovation are not yet strong enough in Intellectual Property law and regulation.
According to him, the absence of a link between science, commercialised indigenous innovation, and economic and business activity is a fundamental obstacle between Nigeria and a quantum leap to prosperity. This gap, he insists, is all the more tragic because science and technology is one area in which African countries such as Nigeria can quickly develop global competitive advantage over the Western world and even Asia.
He also made a strong case for the creation of strong regulatory institutions that would drive and sustain scores of reforms in the various sectors of the national economy.