One evening in Medford, Massachusetts in March 2017, I was seated at the back of an elegantly designed classroom at the renowned Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. The master’s degree students were from various countries including the USA, Japan, India, Switzerland, Canada, Nigeria and the United Kingdom. The Fletcher School was jointly established by Tufts University and Harvard University in 1933 as an exclusively post-graduate institution to train leaders in the field of international affairs. Its curriculum covers international law, politics, economics, and diplomacy. Its privileged students typically end up in leadership roles in governments, business corporations and non-profits around the world.
The teaching slides lit up with the caption: “Business 273: Emerging Africa in the World Economy. Professor Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu. Spring 2017”. The topic of the day’s class was “Foreign Investment”. For two hours, the erudite former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) lectured and led a class discussion on foreign investment, economic policy and the business environment in emerging market countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the “transition economies” of Europe. He holds the formal title of Professor of Practice in International Business and Public Policy at The Fletcher School.
‘Professor of Practice’
Prestigious American universities confer the rare title of “professor of the practice” on leaders in their fields who combine intellectual knowledge with outstanding achievements. This Nigerian is the only black man on the teaching faculty of one of the top schools of international affairs in the world. I was a 2017 Mason Fellow and Master of Public Administration (MPA) candidate at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, just five miles away, and both Tufts and Harvard are located in Greater Boston. In the months that I was at Harvard I saw some impressive professors, nearly all of them white men and women. Kingsley Moghalu is in a league of his own: knowledge, experience, humility, and eloquence, all rolled into one.
I was excited when I heard that there is a Nigerian professor at Tufts University. I was even more surprised to learn that it is Kingsley Moghalu. In 2013, I spoke alongside then CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi at the Leadership Lecture of the Isaac Moghalu Foundation (IMoF) that Prof. Moghalu had founded in memory of his deceased father. Maryanne Moghalu, Kingsley’s wife had invited me to speak at the event, and is the Executive Director of IMoF. I was impressed by the Moghalu family’s powerful vision for the education of poor youth and children in Nigeria’s rural areas, which is the mission of IMoF.
I emailed the former CBN chief and secured an appointment to see him in his office at Tufts. After we reviewed my experience at Harvard, I decided to sit in on his class. Intrigued, I asked the distinguished professor afterwards to tell me the journey of his illustrious life. From academia to banking and finance, from economic development to international law and diplomacy, from the global stage to national service in our country, this remarkable man has made an impact as a leader and a change agent.
Early life: Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu was born in Lagos in 1963 as the first of five children of his parents. Nnewi, the famous commercial town in Anambra State, is his hometown. His late father Isaac Moghalu, a retired Permanent Secretary, was a Nigerian Foreign Service Officer in the 1960s. Kingsley and his parents lived first at Webb Road in Ikoyi, Lagos and later in Geneva, Switzerland and Washington DC, USA in his early years. His mother, Lady Vidah Moghalu, a retired dietician, is now a Christian evangelist. Kingsley’s Igbo name Chiedu literally means “the Lord is my shepherd” or “led by the Spirit of God”. Little-known, he also has a Yoruba name, Ayodele, given to him by the late Mrs. Fumilayo Ransome-Kuti who was a friend of his parents in the early sixties.
After secondary school education at Government College, Umuahia and Federal Government College, Enugu, Kingsley graduated in law from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) assignment as a Legal Officer in Shell Petroleum’s headquarters in Lagos followed. He then worked in the late 1980s as the General Counsel of the now-defunct Newswatch magazine, the leading light of the Nigerian media at the time. But his sights were set firmly on the global stage. To further burnish his CV, he moonlighted as a special correspondent for prestigious foreign newspapers including South magazine in London, Christian Science Monitor in Boston, and Africa News Service in North Carolina (now the Washington DC-based AllAfrica Global Media) in the United States.
Kingsley was admitted to the M.A. programme at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1990. With a letter of recommendation from Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, a former Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria and an alumnus of the renowned institution, The Fletcher School awarded Moghalu the Joan Gillespie Fellowship for future leaders from developing countries. The young man with the determination of a long-distance runner turned down an opportunity to become the company secretary of one of several new-generation banks sprouting in Lagos at the time and left Nigeria for Boston.
Kingsley Moghalu graduated with an M.A. in International Relations in 1992 and was appointed into the international civil service of the United Nations as an entry level officer on his individual merit. He worked in strategic planning, legal affairs and executive management roles in Cambodia, New York, Croatia, Tanzania, and Switzerland. A man who admits to having “workaholic tendencies”, he studied part-time and obtained a Ph.D. at the London School of Economics and Political Science while working as a senior UN officer assigned to The Global Fund in Geneva, Switzerland. Shuttling between Geneva and London, and in between frequent international official missions to various countries, he completed his 500-page doctoral dissertation in 12 months, shattering previous records at the University of London. As if a Ph.D was not nearly enough, he studied further at the UK Institute of Risk Management in London and became a professionally certified risk management professional.
Hard work and professional competence brought recognition. By 2006, aged 43, Kingsley Moghalu had attained the highest career rank of Director in the UN system, and served for six months in New York (at the rank of Under-Secretary-General) as a member of a high-level panel appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to revamp the accountability, regulatory and internal dispute resolution system for the 60,000 global UN workforce and management. His interests now began to shift to the private sector. In December 2008 Kingsley resigned from the UN system, deployed 100,000 Swiss Francs of his personal savings as capital and established Sogato Strategies S.A., a risk management and global strategy consultancy in Geneva. This calculated risk later paid off in unexpected ways.
Sogato Strategies soon acquired impressive clients like the Swiss bank UBS and Syngenta, the Swiss agrochemicals multinational. Life in the private sector was looking up. But an encounter with Sanusi Lamido Sanusi at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, South Africa in mid-2009 changed Moghalu’s trajectory. Sanusi had just been appointed Governor of the CBN. He was looking for a deputy governor to help him execute an ambitious agenda of banking sector reform after the global financial crisis. The governor was on the lookout for an executive with credibility, international exposure, and knowledge of risk management. Kingsley fit the bill. Sanusi persuaded him to return home to Nigeria as a deputy governor of the central bank and recommended him to President Umaru Yar’Adua, who appointed Kingsley to the coveted position. By November 2009, after his confirmation by the Senate, the new Deputy Governor was at his desk at the CBN heading the reserve bank’s Financial System Stability (FSS) Directorate.
He left the CBN in November 2014 after completing his term of office. Does he have any regrets? “No, not at all”, he replied. Does he miss the central bank? “I gave my best in service at the Bank. But, in hindsight, it was best that I moved on to other things when I did”. A man with a strong global pedigree, just weeks after he left the CBN he was appointed a professor at Tufts University and a member of the Advisory Council of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) in London, UK. In addition to his academic duties in Boston, the professor’s schedule is packed with public speaking engagements around the world and consulting assignments. He has advised the investment bank Goldman Sachs, and global private equity and asset management firms such as Actis, TPG and Eaton Vance.
Devoted family man
Kingsley is a devoted family man. In 1994, while living in New York City and working in the UN’s headquarters, he married the then Miss Maryanne Ezike, a banker, lawyer and a daughter of the late medical doctor and former Permanent Secretary, Dr. Christopher Ezike. Kingsley and Maryanne Moghalu have four children. A short while after we left his classroom at Tufts University, Prof. Moghalu and I had a memorable encounter with Hillary Clinton, the former United States Democratic Party presidential candidate, at a dinner event at Henrietta’s Table restaurant in The Charles Hotel at Harvard Square in Cambridge. In conversation as we took selfies with the famous American politician who lost her bid to become her country’s first woman President, it turned out that she has read the professor’s Emerging Africa, and she told me that I have a bright future.
I tweeted pictures of my encounter with Prof. Moghalu at Tufts University and it drew many positive responses. As in America and around the world, the ex-CBN Deputy Governor is well- regarded at home in Nigeria. One typical response from one of my tweeter followers, @ibsanusi read: “Kingsley Moghalu…one of the best brains of Nigeria. Unfortunately, we don’t know how to maximize our best hands.” As we left Henrietta’s Table after our time with Mrs. Clinton, the global professor inspired me as we parted. “Our country belongs to us all. We have a duty to make it better for our children and our youth”, he told me. Nigeria has not heard the last of one of its most accomplished sons.
Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji was a 2017 Edward Mason Fellow and MPA graduate of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.