He further revealed his plans for the country if elected as president.
Here are excerpts of his chat with newsmen.
On education of followers, mission and plans
We have been telling our followers what this vision is and the difference between us and the traditional politicians. For example, we are not playing money politics, and we are not going to buy votes.
We need money for this election, but, it is money for logistics. If one wants to advertise his political ideas, he needs money. We are not talking about the money for bribery, but money to fund a campaign. When I become President, I would not want to be seen as someone, who only has good intentions. I believe that there should be no excuses. A true leader doesn’t give excuses. A true leader takes responsibility and executes. We already have a plan and how the plan will be executed. I have a vision and it is in my book entitled: Build, Innovate and Grow.
When I become President, there will be four offices in the presidency that will be critical to the success of my government. Number one will be the office of National Strategy, ONS. Number two will be the Office of Risk Management, ORM, number three will be the Office of Performance Management, OPM, and number four will be the Office of Human Capital Development, OHC. These are the four offices that will be the underpinning of my presidency. There will be no politician within a 10-mile radius of these four offices. It will be headed by professionals, experts in strategy, and experts in risk management, experts in performance management, and experts in building human capital development. What will these four offices do?
The office of National Strategy will set up the broad template, the over-arching goal, the timelines and the milestones that have to be achieved by the different parts of government architecture. Remember there are strategy and risk management consultants, so, when we are talking about preparedness for transformational leadership, it is one example. I am bringing this idea because of what I already know, and have already done.
The strategy office will now develop big goals. People will doubt if it is possible in this country? That is what built Dubai from a poor desert country to where we all visit today to enjoy ourselves, that is what built Malaysia, and that is what built Singapore. The office of National Strategy will help to establish the big goal. The Office of Risk Management will help to manage the risks that prevent leaders from failing.
Those risks are many. They could be political. In a political environment, a leader keeps compromising as a result of political pressures. At the end of the day the things he said he will do, he would end up not doing them. It could be a strategic risk like too much reliance on one commodity, oil. It could be an operational risk. There are all kinds of risks. I understand Risk Management, l am a practitioner. Nobody manages or averts all risks, but if the person has that consciousness he will manage, avert or mitigate many risks and achieve at the very least, 70 percent of the purpose of being in government.
80 percent of my targets
As President, I will achieve more than 80 percent of my targets. The office of Performance Management will measure and assess all the various departments and their performances against the strategic benchmarks and milestones. And that assessment will occur every quarter. Every department that did not perform will not be tolerated.
There will be accountability. Within the first six months I expect to have fired at least one minister for non-performance. By the time I fire one or two ministers, people will know that this is not business as usual, and they will sit up. It will promote accountability because I have the political will.
I will be a performance-driven President. The office of Human Capital Development will help us to retrain the public service. It will not be done by sending them to Harvard for training. We can’t afford it, but that is what they want. And that is what they do. What happens is that they come to Mr. President and remind him that people should be sent to Harvard in line with his campaign promises.
They do that because they want to visit America for the purpose of shopping. What are we going to do? We are bringing those facilities. The Lagos Business School and other institutions are there for us to retrain our public servants. We will combine the local and the international ideas and retrain our public service here in Nigeria. We will do that in batches.
You were at the CBN when governance structure of banks was radically changed through the dislodging of vested interests. Don’t you think it will be payback time for them?
We are prepared for such a scenario by going directly to the people. Nobody can defeat the will of the people if the will of the people is aggressively and properly expressed. No corporate behemoth can tell the masses not to vote for me. They can try in some ways but I want to also say that my presidency will actually promote wealth creation.
But I don’t believe in Crony Capitalism, the way we practice it in Nigeria, where one or two people become wealthier than the whole country while the country is getting poorer. We will democratize wealth so that it cannot be used against Nigerians. We can create the win-win scenario where people in business are doing well and other people are entering the business world and also doing well. My government will set up a one trillion naira venture capital fund. What will this fund do? It will invest in new businesses which would be started by unemployed youths. It is equity investment, not a loan. It is not a loan that people will have to repay. People can own 40 percent or 30 percent. This is how we can trigger and stimulate the economy.
When this venture fund begins to operate, it will create a skills and innovation-based economy to be driven by innovation. If somebody invests in something that is useful in the society, the fund will produce good results for the market. Intellectual property will be protected. Everyone involved will be protected.
The guy, who invented will do well, the middleman will do well, the wholesaler will do well, and the retailer will do well. In fact, everybody will be happy. We will actually turn this capitalist economy around in a way that the behemoths can continue to be wealthy but not at the expense of the poor and they will not be getting special favours. There will be a competitive framework that opens the economy and make the open field a fair and level playing field.
I am not against people getting wealthy but I am interested in everyone getting wealthy. That is a slight distinction I think we need to make. I am not anti-business. I will be pro-business in a responsible way that is inclusive. We keep talking about GPD growth but we never talked about GDP per capita. Nigeria GDP per capita is just about $2000, average. Since 1960 our GDP per capita is $1,646. It is a scandal of untold proportions, that in 60years our GDP per capita has remained such a misery sum, whereas the GDP per capita of Brazil is about ten thousand dollars, Malaysia is $9000 , South Africa is $7000, and Thailand is about $5000 to $6000 . Some of these countries were not as advanced as Nigeria in the 1960s. It is the failure of leadership that we are experiencing because we never had a leadership with a world view. I have a world view. I have a national ambition for Nigeria.
National vision – The three secrets to successful capitalist economy
As a President, I will try to unite Nigeria around this national ambition so that we are focused on something higher than our differences. Even those, who think Nigeria is their grandfather’s estate, would see that there is a mutual interest. It will make them work with all of us because we will create what is enough for everybody to enjoy, and nobody would have to oppress anyone anymore. This is the way I look at the question of Crony capitalism and the way it has been operating in Nigeria. Let me actually go beyond this to say that there are three secrets to a successful capitalist economy.
Number one is property rights, number two, is innovation, and number three, capital. If an economy is not structured in such a way that these requirements exist to create the operating environment for business and economic activities, the economy will not be able to move from poverty to wealth. It is important to have political leaders, who have intellectual depth because anyone, who cannot conceive intellectually, cannot execute an idea.
I started by talking about the mind and the power of the mind. In Nigeria, they will say that I am speaking too much grammar and I laugh each time they say that. Societies that are making progress in this world are societies where people speak a lot of grammar and work. What is different about Nigeria? Why must we be children of lesser gods? I have no apologies to anyone so long as I am speaking the grammar that can be understood. So long as I am communicating at the level of peoples’ understanding, I am not bothered to be called a grammarian.
When I addressed a town hall in rural areas, this is not how I speak, I break it down. That is why I am going to move for a constitutional amendment for the abolition of the Land Use Act. I will do it so that Nigerians can actually own landed property anywhere. It will create more economic opportunities than a regimented bureaucratic state where people are bribing and waiting for the government to provide Certificate of Occupancy all the time. We need to set this economy free and just create an enabling environment.
I have said that I will have an innovation-driven economy. It is among the things I will be pushing for. We are going to move away from dependence on oil. I am going to bring back technology and scientific inventions and other kinds of innovation as the centrepiece of the economy. And we will turn Nigeria into a manufacturing country. Now, there is something called Economic Complexity. How do you produce and export value-added products? That is what creates wealth for nations, not natural resources.
And that is one reason Nigeria is poor like many African countries that have natural resources. Africa has 70 percent of the world’s strategic minerals but only one percent of global manufacturing, two percent of world trade, and about three percent of global foreign investment; It’s because we are led by leaders that don’t have a world view. I know how we should get from A-B and I have a plan to get there, a strategy to get there, risk management to prevent failure, performance management to ensure success, and Human Capital Development to make sure that what makes every society prosper, exists in Nigeria. Human capital is the secret of any successful country. That is why in Switzerland where they have nothing under their soil people are prospering. Japan is a barren country, but wealthy. China is also in the same category. We have to understand the type of capitalism we want. There are people, who can establish Crony Capitalism scientifically and strategically. I can say for example that I want to create 36 Dangote’s in Nigeria in different areas of the economy.
It is possible. It is an economic system. We can empower people like South Korea did. South Korea is built on Crony capitalist basis but it works there. In South Korea, families own the Chaebols and the economy is structured in a way that every part of the economy is contributing. It has its advantages and its disadvantages. There is Welfare Capitalism which is practiced in Europe but they are moving away from it. There is the Entrepreneurial Capitalism which is the one I believe in. it is a kind of small business- oriented setting. That is why I am talking about the venture capital funding, which happens in America. There is state capitalism which is practiced in China.
These are the four types of capitalism. You can’t have state capitalism without a very competent bureaucracy. The Entrepreneurial Capitalism is what suits us. It is what suits our culture. We are hustlers. We struggle but there is a need to create a level playing field, create a venture fund where people can get capital to actually thrive. Anyone, whose business is well managed for four or five years, he can buy out the venture capital fund and the business becomes his own.
My message to Nigerians is a message of hope. That it is possible for a different Nigeria to be born. Nigeria is a nation waiting to be born. I see myself as someone pregnant with a vision and also waiting to be born in February 2019. It is possible to politically educate people, who are even functionally illiterate because political education is about how they exercise their political rights. That is what we are doing as we talk to people across the country using mass media, using town hall. It is all political about sensitization across the nooks and crannies of this country.
Plans for security – four things to do
The first duty of every government is to secure and protect the lives and property of the citizens of that country. It is very clear that the current government of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed in that category. What it goes to show is that the hood does not make a monk, because, he was a General and many of us felt that security in Nigeria would be something he could do while asleep. It has turned out not to be so. We are far more insecure since this government came into office in 2015. No leader can solve a problem if he does not understand the problem.
The two fundamental problems of security in Nigeria are that the political leaders of today do not intellectually understand what national security means, because national security is multi-dimensional. It is complex. It is not just about focusing on Boko Haram and making a lot of noise about Boko Haram which they have not even defeated. They just raided another Local Government Area recently and I learned they hoisted a flag or something like that. Now, our leader must have the intellectual capacity to understand national security from its various dimensions. The major challenges now are Boko Haram, herdsmen, kidnapping, armed robbery; cyber insecurity, and porousness of our borders.
All kinds of things make up national security. The rising poverty and rising unemployment and rising population combined, are national security threats to this country because one day we will no longer be able to keep the barbarians from our gates. We cannot keep them from the guided gates that we’ve built and locked up. So this is the first problem. If a leader cannot conceptualize something, he can never execute it.
The number two problem which is perhaps even more important than number one is that there is no political will to attack certain security threats to this country. We have seen a total absence of political will to deal with the herdsmen. Why does Miyetti Allah issue threats in this country and nobody holds them accountable? Why do others including those who are not even violent in a physical way just because they are exercising their vocal rights are immediately branded terrorists and all kinds of things?.
There is a double standard that is being applied in this country. That double standard that is operating is because the leadership is not acting in the national interest. Therefore Nigeria can never be secured because loyalty is to that sectional interest, not to the national interest. That is why security has broken down.
The composition of the security architecture of Nigeria in a particular manner that tilts overwhelmingly in favor of a particular part of the country, is worrisome. If, as a President, you are saying that you can only trust people who are your blood relatives or your ethnic kith and kin, you have no business being the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Such a person should go and become the President of his village association and leave us alone as Nigerians to get on with our lives and find people who can secure our property and our lives.
This is the truth. The security architecture is so ethnically loaded that it is now unable to actually understand the whole of the country and secure it. To secure a country like Nigeria, intelligence is needed from various parts of the country. And to get reliable intelligence from various parts of the country, there must be people from those parts of the country inside the security architecture.
I may not be able to access a certain type of intelligence about what is happening in Zamfara but somebody from that part of the country will probably and naturally be able to access that intelligence better than myself. As President, I must have somebody from Zamfara in my security team because of the bandits that I want to crush. If I now bring a bunch of Igbo Generals or Igbo military people and tell them that they have to come and secure Zamfara, is that a serious scenario? It cannot work. Therefore, what would I do about security are four things. I will develop a robust national security plan that looks at the various dimensions of national security. I will professionalise the leadership of the national security team. People should lead national security on the basis of professional ability. If the only people the President of Nigeria can trust are people from his ethnic group, he has no business being the President of Nigeria. That person is not a Nigerian in the real sense.
We must reform the security of our borders. Nigeria’s borders are so porous to the extent that people just walk in from Benin Republic, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. And many of them are coming in and taking Nigerian citizenship or acting as citizens. They may not necessarily be given passports but they may now be participating in the electoral process as voters. These are national security threats which some people are willingly turning a blind eye to because it favours their vested interest. Nigeria does not have a police force and this is one of the reasons Nigeria is a failing state. A state that cannot secure its territory or its communities effectively is a failing state. Maybe, saying that it is a failing state is even being generous because some people will argue that it is already a failed state. What would I do about the police? My government will recruit, equip and train 1.5million policemen and women within four years and set up a modern police force in this country. When Nigeria is restructured most of them can go back to various levels, some will remain at the federal level. But we will begin that job of reforming the police so that our communities can be secured. They need to be trained in line with the standards of 21st century policing. They need to be trained in community relations. They need to be equipped with forensic capabilities in technology. They need to be trained in management. There has to be some sort of specialization in the police force. You cannot have general duty policemen.
On Presidential debate
I am using this forum to challenge President Buhari to a debate. And when I say President Buhari, I mean President Buhari. I do not mean Vice President Osinbajo. Osinbajo should debate with vice presidential candidates. President Buhari cannot continue to hide from the Nigerian public. It has become the track record of his governance that he is not able to face Nigerians and explain to them his government and its policies. We only hear President Buhari talking to Nigerians from London or China, or from Germany.
This is leadership failure. This is one clear demonstration of leadership failure when a leader cannot communicate with his citizens. I have read and seen that the APC has appointed Osinbajo to represent President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential debate. This is fraudulent. I want it to be on record that it is a political fraud and Nigerian citizens should not accept it. We must hold President Buhari accountable. We elected him as President. We did not elect Osinbajo as President. Osinbajo cannot represent Buhari in a debate about the performance of Buhari’s government. Buhari is not incapacitated, if he is incapacitated, he should tell us. Where in the civilized world does a President send his Vice President to represent him in debates? Where in the civilized world does it happen? Only in Nigeria and Nigerians are accepting this type of thing? People should rise up and demand Buhari to come out and face me and other presidential candidates in a debate.
I have just emerged as the Presidential candidate of the Young Progressive Party ,YPP. So obviously, now that I am the candidate I am going to give serious thought to the question of who should be my running mate. My running mate will come from the northern part of the country. My running mate will be a Muslim. That is all I can say for now while I do more research and think about it. I will announce the decision at the appropriate time.
for the youths of this country, who had expressed their desire for young people to come together and present a consensus candidate against the status quo. Unfortunately, after I was invited by the members of this group, PACT, to participate in its affairs, it turned out not to be what we had originally envisaged that it would be. It was supposed to be a place where we would gather and select the strongest candidate from the group and everybody else would back that person.
That was what it was supposed to be. Some people hijacked the process, began to manipulate it towards a predetermined agenda that was outside its vision. That was why I walked out of PACT. We are focused now on the election. PACT has essentially collapsed because the outcome lacked credibility. But I am a candidate. I am no longer an aspirant. I am talking as a candidate focused on defeating President Muhammadu Buhari at the February 2019 elections. I cannot spend my time discussing the affairs of PACT.
I will within two years of becoming President, work with the National Assembly and Nigerians to deliver a constitutionally restructured federation. My take on restructuring is that it must be fundamental if it must be effective. That means that restructuring on the basis of existing will not solve the problem. For restructuring to be effective, it has to be on the basis of the six geo-political zones as federating units in this country.
Restructuring must include resource control. The states and regions should be fiscally in control of the revenue they generate whether from taxation or from solid minerals. A percentage of that revenue should be paid to the federal government. That is a real federation. Even though we want something that approximates the 1963 Constitution, I have one major caveat; I do not want a weak central government. I want a centre that is strong enough for sovereignty to reside there and be protected.
I also want the federating units to be strong enough to prosper. My fundamental argument for restructuring is economic because the reason Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the whole world is because of our over-centralized economic management. That would change in a restructured federation where regions are able to make decisions about their economies and every region in this country has economies of scale but many states on their own as federating units are not viable. That is the main reason I said we should practice federalism along geopolitical lines.
Diversification of the economy
Restructuring will help us diversify the economy because every region that has this economy of scale has things that are peculiar to them and very rewarding economic activities. The only reason they cannot be scaled up is that there is no restructuring so far. So every state goes cap in hand every month to Abuja to get the federation account allocation from oil.
That is why I said the reason Nigeria is poor, is because our political leaders have for over 40 years, worshipped the small gods of small things. And the number one small god of small things is oil and the oil price. We must diversify away from it. How? Let us start with agriculture. I will bring a value chain approach into agriculture. We will invest in innovations in agriculture. There are high-yielding seedlings that we must now begin to use across the whole country.
They will yield a better harvest. This should be our approach to agriculture. We will invest in the second stage of the value chain, transportation. We have to invest economically in the kinds of transportation infrastructure that can transport agricultural products with their value intact.
We should invest in storage. We should invest in processing. We must invest in export. This is the approach that we have to bring to agriculture.
Another area is innovation, not oil because that creates a new economy of its own and the venture capital fund that we are going to set up will create new economies so that people are not relying on the oil price. We will invest in economic complexities. We will invest in education. This is a primary vision of mine because what sustains an economy is not oil, not infrastructure but human capital. It is when you develop that human capital through educational reforms that every other part of the economy becomes sustainable and continues to improve.
We are moving education from the current three or four percent that it is now to not less than 20 percent budgetary allocation. That will not just be throwing money at the problem, it will be investing in teacher training.
We must subject our whole teachers to a recertification process, training, which when they are now suitable, they can continue to teach. We must invest in curriculum reform. The current curriculum is extremely geared towards theory. We must change it towards practical skills. The third thing is that we must invest in how our students learn, that is, pedagogy. In Nigeria, our students cram for exams.
They receive lectures, cram and sit for exams. There is no systemic encouragement of original and creative thinking.
As a professor in the United States, my 100 percent is divided as follows; 60 percent for exams, 60 percent is for original research, 20 percent is for the ability to hold and participate in a class discussion and the remaining 20 percent is for physical attendance in class.
That is how my 100 percent is divided in my own class and that class is called ‘Emerging Africa in the World Economy’ and I was appointed a Professor at the university largely because of that book on top of the fact that I was Deputy Governor of the Central Bank and I had been in the US for many years. But nobody in Nigeria invited me to be a Professor after I left the CBN. This is the difference between America and Nigeria. They respect knowledge. In Nigeria, we scorn at it and say the man speaks too much grammar. That is why we are poor.
I keep referring to this book, ‘Build, Innovate and Grow -My Vision for our Country’. This is a comprehensive blueprint of my vision for our country when I become President and how Nigeria can be governed. I am the only presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential race that has done this. If anybody had done this, we want to see it. So, it is not just to talk, here is the plan. That is why I said I am not just making promises.