After our last meeting on November 4, 2022, I tweeted: “For his genius, yes, but more importantly for the ‘high octane’ value he consistently brings to the public space, Prof @MoghaluKingsley is a treasure. I admire Prof a great deal, and he knows this, but I’ll save the other compliments for his diamond jubilee.” I intend to keep that promise with this tribute.
Before I had the opportunity of meeting him, I had known just as much as anyone can about a public figure of his stature. Then sometime in 2021, one of my mentors sent a WhatsApp message which was culled from a newspaper publication. In that piece, Moghalu shared his story, and how a particular letter of recommendation from Professor Bolaji Akinyemi introducing him as “future leader in Africa” to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, set him on an incredible trajectory in life. This is a story I have since become so familiar with and even referenced in some remarks I have given since then. He also talked about the other people, opportunities and values that made a significant difference in his life. After reading that article, his book on ‘Emerging Africa’, and watching a ton of his speeches and lectures (from as far back as ten years ago in some cases), I looked forward to meeting him. And then it happened on May 12, 2022. This is as brief as I can be in plotting the provenance of our relationship.
When he declared his interest to contest for the office of the president in 2021, I rooted for him because to my mind, he embodied the ideals of a leader who is able to dream up possibilities, fire up the imaginations of Nigerians and had the capacity to achieve significant results. He was, simply, a man you would be proud to have as president. He had a unique worldview and perspective that many of those in the presidential line-up at the time clearly didn’t have. In my opinion, the major functions of the president were best articulated by him which he outlined as follows: nation-building, national security, national economy and managing Nigeria’s foreign affairs. This was a refreshingly different narrative in a society where the office of the president is often seen as the ultimate elevation in the political hierarchy or the vortex of ‘national cake’ allocation.
Perhaps the most interesting highlight of our relationship till date was his acceptance to deliver the 2022 Babcock University Convocation Lecture. I’d served in a committee given the assignment to recommend some speakers, one of whom the university management could decide on to deliver the lecture. On completion of the assignment, I had expressed my position that I believed that Prof would do the best job because he had, more than others, spoken and written more consistently about the proposed themes of the lecture – “Knowledge, Vision, Passion and Innovation in the Context of Nigeria’s Development”. He delivered a most incisive lecture on how Nigeria can work its way back to relevance, at the core of which is a ‘worldview’ that would undergird our ability to interrogate with the world on our own terms. I’m humbled to have had the honour of introducing him on that day.
While Moghalu’s adventure in the political arena may shape the frame with which many young people have come to know him, his stature as a first-rate author, scholar, speaker, diplomat, lawyer, banker and political economist is unshakeable. He has since taken a walk from politics and has chosen instead to contribute value as a private citizen. This, in my opinion, is an effort he has done brilliantly through the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation (IGET) – the public policy think tank which he leads, and his many interventions on issues of national import both on mainstream and social media. As a much younger friend, I make it a point of duty to read all his views in the papers and watch all interviews on national and international media platforms. He is a gentleman of a rare and unique mould, and certainly, an accomplished man. He holds a Doctorate degree holder in International Relations from the London School of Economics (LSE). He is an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (FCIB), a recipient of the Doctor of Laws (LL.D) Honoris Causa, and holds the traditional title of Ifekaego of Nnewi Kingdom. He has delivered lectures at some of the world’s leading universities. These, definitely, say a lot.
At 60 years, Prof has many remarkable achievements for which he can be proud. He worked hard and diligently, served his country and the world, and he continues to inspire many who are coming behind. I have had the privilege of interacting with him a few times and by the quality of his thought, his passion to see his country matter in the international arena, and the value he consistently offers in the public sphere, he is a national treasure. I believe he still has more value to offer this country and our continent.
On this special day, I am happy to join others in Nigeria and around the world in wishing Professor Kingsley, Bosah, Chiedu, Ayodele Moghalu a happy 60th birthday!
Akinnuga, MNIIA, ARPA, is a consultant on communications and public affairs.