The presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, has called on Nigerians to be more careful in electing their leaders and make sure theyre intellectually-capable of solving the nations problems.

While speaking during an interview with Pulse on Monday, November 19, 2018, the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said leaders need to understand what issues the nation faces and how to solve them.

He said this while explaining his idea of restructuring the country which he said has to be a comprehensive process that requires more than his political opponents have been willing to talk about.

He said, "Let me tell you one thing about restructuring, there is the 419 version of restructuring whereby people believe that tinkering with a few things, devolving some powers, is restructuring.

"If you go and establish state Police and do nothing else in this country, you've not restructured Nigeria. Some people actually equate restructuring with state Police and this is so erroneous.

"Devolution of powers can happen in a system that's not a federation. Don't confuse devolution of powers with federalism. The two are not the same. Devolution is part of federalism but, in and of itself, is not necessarily federalism. That's a very important distinction.

"This is why it's good to have a president that went to school and has a certificate. I understand the concept and I have the practical experience; it's not just theory.

"Nigerians should begin to elect leaders who are intellectually-equipped to solve Nigeria's problems."

Moghalu clarifies stand on restructuring

With restructuring being a very important issue ahead of the 2019 presidential election, Moghalu believes Nigeria's unitary state should be restructured to create more independence for sub-national units.

According to his version of restructuring, the six geo-political zones should be restructured into geo-economic zones, a system that will enable regions control their resources and pay some tax to the Federal Government.

He said, "Nigeria should be returned to being a proper constitutional federation which it was before the military intervened in 1966. Ever since then, Nigeria has become a unitary state where most of the powers are vested in the Federal Government and the sub-national units are just holding out hands to receive.

"We must return to a constitution that creates a proper federation and that federation, in my vision, should be based on the six geo-political zones, not on states. The reason is that the main benefit of restructuring is economic; it is actually to release the productive potential of the Nigerian economy and the human capitals, the skills in its citizens, can now begin to actually produce economic value instead of the laziness that the oil economy of today creates in everybody.

"We must create a new economy that restructures Nigeria on the basis of six geo-political zones. Any restructuring of Nigeria means that we must return to resource control where the regions control their resources and pay some tax to the Federal Government. I propose 40% at most, or maybe 30%.

"It's not like what we have today that all the oil reserve is owned by the Federal Government. That is a complete misnomer in a federal system because a federal system means there's a central government and there are subnational units but none of the two is superior to the other. There's just a division of powers. We're not running a federation, Nigeria is just running a command-and-control unitary state in essence."

Highlighting further the main components of his idea of restructuring the country, Moghalu said religion must also be fully separated from the affairs of state to avoid conflict.

He also said local government areas should not be a constitutional tier of governance but an option that should be decided by each region who he said can also have their own regional constitutions as long as they don't conflict with the central Nigerian constitution.

He said, "I've talked about the need to base restructuring on geo-political zones which will now be geo-economic zones; to restore resource control; then, any new restructuring of the country must separate religion from the state. This has become a major source of conflict in this country where you have religions trying to be dominant in government and people of other religious faiths feel discriminated against and begin to agitate.

"Local government areas cannot be a constitutional tier of governance in a real federation. There should be central government and there should be regional governments. The regional governments should create local governments and manage them and provinces. It's their decision.

"Each of the six regions should have their own regional constitutions so long as there is nothing inconsistent between that and the central Nigerian constitution. There's nothing wrong with it, they're just organising themselves according to their local peculiarities."

Restructuring will be completed in 18 months - Moghalu

Moghalu said his process of restructuring the country would take 18 months to complete with the full involvement of the National Assembly and the Nigerian people.

"When I become president in May, within 18 months, we would have completed the constitutional restructuring by the National Assembly and the State Assemblies.

"We, as the executive, we go to them with an executive bill of how we think the country should look and we'll discuss it and the legislature will go to work.

"We will go directly to the Nigerian people and open up a debate on restructuring so that we can know what people want and reflect that in whatever the legislature does," he said.

2019 presidential election

The 2019 presidential election, scheduled for February 16, 2019, is billed to be closely-fought between President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

Alongside Moghalu in the chasing pack is Donald Duke of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).

Others are Tope Fasua of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), Eunice Atuejide of the National Interest Party (NIP), Adesina Fagbenro-Byron of the Kowa Party (KP), Chike Ukaegbu of the Advanced Allied Party (AAP), Hamza Al-Mustapha of the People's Party of Nigeria (PPN), Obadiah Mailafia of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), and many more.

79 candidates will contest in the election, the highest number ever in Nigeria's electoral history.