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It would be unfair, insincere for anybody to blame Tinubu for Nigeria’s current challenges – Moghalu

Founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the immediate past Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Chief George Moghalu, in this interview throws his weight behind a single tenure of six years for occupants of the exalted seats of the President and Governor in the country. However, he is opposed to the idea of reverting to the parliamentary system of government. Moghalu, who is consulting with critical stakeholders on whether to contest for next year’s governorship election in Anambra State or not, tells ADAMU ABUH that the people of the state deserve a more focused and result oriented leader than the incumbent, Governor Charles Soludo. Excerpts: 

What is your take on the clamour to limit the president and governors to a six-year single tenure?
It is a good idea if you look at it from the face value. The argument they present is that a lot of effort, energy and resources are usually wasted in fighting for a second term. From the defence I got on television, it will also remove that anxiety and refocus the elected officials on the reality of spending a six-year single tenure and ensure that they work with that. It will be a case of when they will go having won. It is going to be different from what we are seeing in the four-year double term. What we see is that in the first six months to one year, if he is not prepared, he will learn on the job, and he will do governance for one year and six months. Two and a half years will be gone only for him to use the remaining years to prepare for re-election. Every agenda and every project will fail on arrival if it is not tied to the second-term bid.

Will a return to the parliamentary system of government be the solution to Nigeria’s democratic challenges?
  The parliamentary system of government will not be the solution to our political problem because our problem is not about what is written in the books but about implementation. We can write the best of the constitution, but we can agree not to obey it. Again, when you are insincere and determined to fault or circumvent the process, no matter how good the parliamentary process is, it will never work. There must be sincerity of purpose and determination to do what is right.

What’s the truth on talks that you have dumped the APC for the opposition Labour Party (LP)?
  You must understand that at my level in politics in this country, I have never jumped from one party to the other. However, if I must leave the APC for LP, it has to be consequent upon my signing a statement from a recognised representative or my media office. And not until that happens, I will say that I am still with the APC.

 
The social media report on my joining LP actually generated so much concern that people across the globe called to confirm the authenticity of that report. My answer has been that as of today, I have not left the APC. If I am going to leave the APC, there is a process, especially for somebody at my level. The process has to do with resigning my membership of where I am now, not by proxy, but by formally writing to notify my ward about my intention to leave the party and I will make the resignation public. I may not give any reason because I am at liberty as my fundamental right. If I decide to continue with politics or join another political party after due consultations, I will announce where I am going. I may even decide to play politics without joining any political party. I can be an independent player, and even though there is no independent candidacy, I can be an independent influencer or driver of the process. That does not make me a non-political actor. It is not only until you belong to a political party that you are a politician. And let me repeat, if I decide to leave the APC I will announce it publicly.

What is your membership status in APC and your relationship with the leaders of the party?
  I am a full-fledged member of the APC. I am a card-carrying member of the party. I have personal relationships across the board that I built over the years. Nobody, not even my enemy, can dispute the fact that I have always been a key player in APC right from the formation. I didn’t join the APC; I was among the group that sat down, drafted the constitution, had meetings, gave it a name and registered it. In fact, I was the coordinating secretary that gave birth to the APC. So, I am not an unknown quantity in the party and even my enemy will acknowledge that fact. My status in the party is not in contention. It is not an issue for discussion or debate because the fact is clear as to who I am. Don’t forget that apart from being part of the formation of the party, I was the pioneer national auditor of the party. I was re-elected for a second term. It was while I was serving that former President Muhammadu Buhari appointed me the MD of NIWA. And that was the first time I left the national secretariat of our party. And I have consistently been in party administration from 1999 till date.

Are you contesting the Anambra State governorship election next year?
  If it pleases God that I will run for the election next year, I will make it public at the right time. For now, I am still consulting. And as for the political platform, I will say that consultation is also still on.

How do you rate other party members aspiring for the position?
  I have never claimed to be God. And I have always said that power belongs to God and He gives it to who He pleases and at His own time. I cannot stop anybody’s ambition. The political party is like a church; it has no gateman. One can be Pentecostal on Monday, decide to be Catholic on Tuesday and a Muslim the next day. People can be driven by their ambition but the choice of who leads is a consequence of God’s design and manifestation through the people, who the power actually belongs to.

Do you see Governor Charles Soludo as a big threat to your governorship ambition?
  Truth be told, he cannot give what he does not have. He will do his best. He desires to win, but whether I am convinced he will win the second term will be a matter for discussion for another day. You also asked if there is a formidable opposition that can unseat him and my answer is very simple – there are quite a lot. Many people are going to be interested in the seat. And it will manifest as time draws closer. We still have over one year for the incumbent to prove some people wrong and within the period, the other opposition parties have opportunities to present strong candidates for the Anambra people to decide whether we will accept him or go for a change. As I said, I am consulting across party lines because winning the governorship seat in Anambra State is not a party affair. According to the statistics, membership in political parties is less than 30 per cent of the total registered voters. What happens to the other 70 per cent? You have to win them over to make the needed impact to win the election. It is not holding the ticket of one party or the other that will decide the winner of the election.

What are the factors that will help you decide whether you will contest or not?
  One of them is the acceptability of my aspiration and the platform by the Anambra people because the two go together. People will ask who the person is, what is he bringing to the table and which platform he is running on. These are the critical questions that must be asked. It is in the cause of the consultation that we will be able to find the answers. Sincerely, I don’t have any iota of fear, not even one. There is no reason to entertain any fear over my aspiration. Not even the threat from APGA will make me troubled. When the chips are down and when we put the cards on the table, we will start asking ourselves some critical questions like: To what extent has the incumbent delivered on the mandate given to him? Do we have prospects for improvement? Putting sentiment aside, is it where we should be and where do we want to be in the next five years? These are issues that will be brought into public discussion.
 
One mistake many people make, especially we politicians, is to assume that the electorate are foolish. But this time around, people are becoming more aware and beginning to ask the contestants questions like: Who are you? Where are you coming from? What have you done in the past? Can you be trusted? Are you a promise keeper? What did you do in your previous engagements, assignments and to what extent can you be accessed?

In your assessment of Governor Soludo’s administration, will you say it is a general state of hopelessness in Anambra?
  I won’t say that it is a general state of hopelessness, but there is a lot that he ought to have done. There are also certain things they have done that I would have done differently if I had the opportunity. As I said earlier, you can only give what you have. One thing I have never done is to criticise without providing an alternative. In the history of my political journey, I don’t just attack for the sake of it.

With the realities on ground, is the APC still the party of your dream?
  We really have so much work to do if we are sincere. It is not only about leadership but also followership. The action of the followers is a reflection of what the leaders asked them to do both in words and actions. There is a lot of re-engineering; there is a need for sincerity and we must all come clean.

What is your assessment of the current Federal Government?
 To be honest with you, I sympathise with President Bola Tinubu, judging by the reality on ground and that is why I fervently pray for him.
The challenges are so enormous and it is about all the support he can get from all the major players and sectors, especially those holding positions of responsibility. It is not only about the president. So much work needs to be done and we cannot pretend about it. You asked if he has impressed me in his first anniversary; he has done reasonably well in the face of the challenges confronting him. The reality is that we are in a difficult situation because the people on the streets, the poor farmers in the village and the average workers may not understand these difficulties. But as to whether we have challenges, it is enormous.

Can you do a comparative analysis of nine years of APC and nine years of PDP?
  I may not correctly do the comparative analysis because I don’t have the available facts. However, the truth is that APC, in the past nine years, has done reasonably well. We have had challenges for some time and building a collapsed system is a difficult process. Time was in this country when Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was fighting the governors to save the excess crude funds; if we had done that, I am sure we would not have been where we are today. Time was in this country when we had so much to build infrastructure; if we had done that we would not have been where we are today. The government has also invested in the power sector but the result has not been shown yet. And you cannot blame this government for it. Billions of dollars were invested in the sector over the past 15 to 20 years but look at where we are today. It would be unfair and insincere for anybody to blame this government even though they are trying to do something to address this particular challenge. What everyone needs to do is to contribute within our little ways to assist the government in pulling the string.

Is the campaign for APC to take over the South East a realistic one?
  Any political party can win an election. But there are two basic factors. Who is the candidate? What is the perception of the party within the environment? If you don’t address these issues, you are wasting your time. We are not going anywhere if we don’t nominate the right candidate and address the issue of perception, which may not be reality but is very critical in political assessment.

Having been in politics for a long time, what will be your advice to the current political office holders?
   I will tell them to fear God. I will back it up with a Biblical quote which says, “Now let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, the only duty of a man is to fear God and keep His commandment for every work will be brought to judgment, be it good or bad.” Fear God and have that consciousness in mind that one day you will be a former or ex and if you refuse to go, death can remove you or age can retire you. Some things are inevitable; there is an expiration and exit date for everything we do. The duration varies from individual to individual. Once we are conscious of what history will say about us when we leave the office, we have become ready for the future. The fundamental question will be if I will still have my friends when I leave the office. I have maintained one mobile line because I don’t want to lose my friends and those who know me. They are the ones that can look at your face and tell you that your certain action is wrong. The moment a leader loses those who tell him the truth; he is finished and will be exposed to the likelihood of making mistakes.

 A journalist once asked me who I was going to miss most in NIWA when my tenure expired and I told him that those who would leave were only friends of NIWA because they were friends to the occupant of the office, not me as a person. But those going with me are friends of George Moghalu. They come to my office every day; we stay together every day; we joke, throw banters and they have access to my house and office just as I have to theirs too.

Author

  • Adamu Abuh

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