Presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Prof Kingsley Moghalu, has explained why he walked out of a consensus election in August of 2018, preferring to pursue his presidential ambition with renewed vigour instead.

On Thursday, August 30, 2018, 18 presidential aspirants under the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) umbrella, organised a vote among themselves to settle for a consensus candidate ahead of the 2019 elections.

At the end of a two-staged voting process, Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for a New Nigeria (ANN), was declared winner.

Soon after the vote however, Moghalu pulled out of the coalition, citing “overwhelming outpouring of support for my candidacy from all parts of Nigeria.”

Moghalu also said “PACT did not produce a true consensus candidate” because “only seven aspirants participated in the final voting out of the original 18 aspirants, mainly because many of the aspirants had withdrawn from the process.”

Fela Durotoye, ANN presidential candidate, was declared winner of PACT election in August 2018 (Fela Durotoye)

In this exclusive piece sent to Pulse, Moghalu says PACT was put together by persons who had colluded among themselves to assassinate his presidential ambition.

Moghalu's words are reproduced below, unedited:

PACT was a political assassination attempt, a conspiracy by powerful forces to terminate my candidacy for the Office of the President. I was lucky to have survived that ambush and by God’s mercy waxing even stronger since then. My one regret and apology is to my followers and supporters for the gaffe of being lured into a process that was bursting with insincerity.

The one thing that was not made known to the general public is that the forces behind the outcome of PACT were worried about the emergence of a strong, competent and truly independent alternative candidate (me) that will ultimately challenge the status quo in 2019. Today, the Young Progressives Party (YPP) and my candidacy are indisputably the alternative in Nigerian politics. We will go on to defeat both the APC and the PDP in next month’s election.

Now let me be clear and for the avoidance of any doubt why I walked away from PACT. The process was basically not transparent, and the first rule in any contest of that nature is that there must be a level playing field. In this case there wasn’t. When I arrived at the venue of the poll on the fateful morning, to my utter surprise, was confronted with the presence and participation of Oby Ezekwesili as the “referee” for the polling. Nothing was explained. Who invited her? There were two other “observers”. Why was I as a participant not informed and my prior agreement sought?

Clearly, something was up, there was an “inside game” going on. Also a small clique, made up mainly of members of the ANN party, where running the show driving it to a pre-determined bus stop and keeping others in the dark.

Dr. Oby Ezekwesili mediated the PACT election (Oby media team)

I started getting uneasy with what was going on. After the first round of voting, Fela Durotoye, myself and another candidate were tied. The process was conducted through a supposedly secret ballot. However, the three of us who were tied were asked to leave the room for the second round of voting. Why? We all were in the room for the first “secret” ballot. If the second ballot was also a supposedly transparent secret ballot, why were we asked to leave the room? Were there winks, nods, and other kinds of communication or discussion that took place behind my back? We will never know.

So in retrospect, it became clear that something was seriously wrong with the whole process. Even some of the PACT “insiders” later admitted on the record in interviews with the media that there were many errors in the whole process. As a matter of principle I simply had to move on. Moreover, clause 13 of the PACT agreement made it clear that any member of PACT could leave the group in line with his or her constitutional right to freedom of political association.

Given these irregularities I exercised my right by the contract. I stood by an agreed clause in the agreement as the circumstances warranted it. Why is this a crime? Some parties that signed on to the PDP-led CUPP alliance left the group after its presidential candidate emerged and they disagreed on valid grounds, mainly the lack of respect, transparency and agreed process in selecting the candidate. No one crucified them.

I do understand that those who criticize me over the PACT episode either do not know the full story and the facts, or they are simply being simplistic. Some may be using double standards or are simply prejudiced or self-serving, or all of the above. Meanwhile, the referee of the PACT immediately thereafter entered the field as a player in the last minute, trying to score more goals than all the other players. This of course raised more ethical questions than answers and further showed the whole thing as a farce. 

When I realized that PACT was a charade I simply quit and as mentioned already still on the grounds of what was agreed and signed in the contract. As we all know even in real elections, candidates can reject the results and go to court at the END of the whole process if they believe they have legal or principled grounds to do so. 

Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, YPP presidential candidate (TheCable)

Here’s something else. Why did PACT collapse like a pack of cards after I left the group? Why did they not uphold Fela’s Durotoye’s victory and continue without me? Must Kingsley Moghalu be a member of PACT? The answer is that in reality the so-called outcome had no credibility and it was clear to many and without my participation that credibility was hard to create.

It is very interesting that Fela Durotoye, the supposed “consensus candidate” found it necessary to participate in a subsequent and separate attempt organized by another group of citizens to select a consensus alternative candidate. I was heavily lobbied to attend the preliminary meeting even though I was extremely reluctant. So I attended the meeting out of respect to most Nigerians who really needed us to all work together.

However, it became obvious again that this attempt was not heading towards a fair outcome as many questions went unanswered. Once I decided and declined participation, the whole process collapsed again. So I came to understand clearly that I was the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and that these PACT-like arrangements were simply set-ups to eliminate my candidacy in a clever manner. The question is: Whose interests are served by such an outcome? Certainly not those of our poor and suffering masses that need good governance and an end to their generational cycles of poverty.

I am evidently the most prepared and popular alternative candidate. The YPP has a structure on the ground across the 36 states in addition to my own infrastructure, the Kingsley Moghalu Support Organization (KIMSO) and the Kingsley Moghalu Volunteer Force (KMVF) and Youth for Kingsley (Y4K) across 30 states. I sat down and wrote a proper book, Build, Innovate and Grow (BIG): My Vision for Our Country, before announcing my candidacy for President in February 2018. So I am well prepared, I came out early and boldly, and we have covered a lot of ground across the country, North and South, and have strong following across the country. We have also invested a lot of resources in building all this infrastructure.

Moreover, I have far more relevant experience and a compelling vision than any candidate for the presidency in Nigeria today. The presidency of Nigeria is not moi-moi, as we will say! You have to have gravitas and a track record of performance of leadership in public institutions, economic management, and international relations and diplomacy because these are the responsibilities of the President. The fact that you are young is good but not enough. You must in addition be prepared and competent. So if the alternatives truly want to come together and select a candidate with a real chance to defeat the status quo, my humble opinion is that and objectively speaking, I am the man for the job. 

We have done the work on ground, and gone across the country, have they? We have over 300 candidates down the ballot – 16 for governorships, 22 for Senate, 55 for House of Reps, and over 200 for House of Assembly. We are serious about winning. We will contest the presidency because we are prepared, competent and ready! This is seen in most of the polls where we consistently outperform most of these candidates and in some polls even the APC and PDP, including the national polling for “The Candidates” town hall in which we- I and my running mate Umma Getso - featured on NTA on January 9 and the polling for the presidential candidates’ debate on January 19.

I believe that if the process was transparent and sincere and a consensus candidate of PACT emerged, the effort would not have died. I would have deployed experienced leadership and my convening influence to cure its defects, bringing more candidates and political parties under its tent, and thereby giving it more legitimacy. Unfortunately, both the process and outcome of PACT were its undoing.

I believe our youth should be leaders of today and not tomorrow, and my candidacy represents their best interest. It is important that young people do not make the same mistake we made in 2015, voting just on the basis of sentiment, or anybody but Buhari in 2019. We should be more discerning about what the job of the President requires and the candidate best placed to both win and perform well. I am that candidate.

I am willing to work with all the other candidates in the minority parties and I do believe we can all come together but we need to do this ourselves and I strongly believe we can. 

*Kingsley Moghalu is the presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party and a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.