Chief George Moghalu is a former National Auditor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and present Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). In this interview with some journalists, Moghalu, who has participated severally in the past Anambra State governorship elections, speaks on burning issues in the country, his preparedness for the next gubernatorial election in Anambra State, among other issues. Associate Editor, SAM EGBURONU, reports.
How would you rate your party’s achievements in the past five years?
It is always very important when you want to make an assessment to begin by first of all, looking at where you were; your millage point and then look at the millage you have covered, then you will be able to know what it will take you to get to where you have programmed yourself to be. I appreciate the challenges and difficulties facing us as a party and as a nation but I will be bold and honest enough to say APC has done well in the last five years. We have done reasonably well but that is not to say much is still not left to be done. There are still quite a lot to be done. So for me, I always describe our nation and party as work in progress. You will agree with me that as a government, as a party, we have done well.
Most Nigerians will disagree with you, especially in the area of insecurity. At the moment, many lives are being lost. Recently, a seminarian was abducted and later killed; also, the CAN chairman in Adamawa State was abducted and later beheaded. The president flew straight from Ethiopia to Maiduguri on sympathy visit as a result of the killings of scores of people in Maiduguri. Aggregating all these killings and deaths, would you boldly say that the president has actually done well in that area and do you support the continuous stay of the service chiefs?
If you could remember, I said we have not gotten to where we want to be. We have not arrived at our destination; it is still work in progress but efforts will continue to be made. I feel very sad and pained about the death of the CAN chairman, the death of the seminarian and the death of every other person because every life is same. When there was insecurity walk led by the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, there was a placard they had that read “all lives are precious to God”. That touched me. What that goes to say is that the life of that poor man you think is inconsequential is as important to God as the life of the president of this country.
I feel pained we lost them and let me use this opportunity to condole their families, CAN, the church, myself and everybody and pray may their souls rest in perfect peace, amen. There are still more work to be done.
Would you want the service chiefs to continue in office?
Why I am a little bit careful about that is that I may not have access to information with regards to how the security operates. I don’t also know how long a service chief is supposed to stay, whether they have tenured appointments or they are appointed by seniority; I don’t have any of such information.
The important thing is that our environment has to be secured; Nigeria has to be secured for us to even expect foreign investment and as citizens, we also have a role to play.
Can you share your thoughts on the establishment of Amotekun, Shege Ka Fasa and the community policing mechanism which the Southeast governors have adopted?
It is fine with me. I have always advocated for community policing because it gives room for the involvement of the people themselves. There is actually nothing wrong in efforts being made to provide security, to help government, it is part of what I just said now that we, as citizens, have a role to play.
This is your fourth month as MD of NIWA, how has it been?
It has been challenging, interesting, educative. For those of us who have not been in the marine sector before, we have learnt quite a lot, we also have seen the challenges and we have seen the great potentials that are in this sector and we are working to see to what extent we can bring to the knowledge of Nigerians these potentials.
What are these potentials?
The moment we develop and improve on our water transportation system; we have one, reduced the pressure on our roads majorly because a good number of the cargoes that go by the road can be moved by water.
If we get to the point where we can move cargo that arrives at Lagos port by water to some of our inland ports in Onitsha, Baro, Lokoja and co, by the time we do that, I can assure you that the Apapa gridlock will be a thing of the past.
There is concern that the waters are not dredged, especially in the Southeast and South-south?
Before I came into office, there was a major dredging that was done on the Niger. So, now what we are doing is more or less maintenance dredging; though we have one or two dredgers, we are acquiring more so that this maintenance dredging becomes a continuous thing we do regularly because sand movement is a continuous thing. It is not static.
The moment we lay emphasis on it, which is what we are trying to do, the potentials will keep manifesting because by the time the river ports and jetty are active, communities around the river banks will also develop along the line.
But let me also add that one of the biggest challenges I found when I came into office is the fact that Nigerians don’t know about Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). NIWA was underreported.
So are there some sensitisation programmes for the people to know more about NIWA?
Yes we are doing that. We are relating with people, we are creating forums.
Talking about dousing tension in Nigerian polity, there is this feeling of marginalisation, especially in the Southeast. Are there efforts to assuage this feeling?
When people say marginalisation, I say present the facts because I have facts to prove that we are not marginalised. Let’s look at the massive infrastructural development in the Southeast. In the past 16 years of the PDP administration, the second Niger Bridge was a mirage, was just mere promises until this administration came into being; what we are talking about is date of completion and the contractors have mentioned when they are going to complete it. In the next one and half years, it will be completed, go there and see what is going on. Does that show a government that is marginalising the people?
Go and look at Enugu-Onitsha expressway, the level of work that is going on, look at Onitsha-Port Harcourt express road and find out the level of work that is going on; look at new roads that are being opened and developed; look at Aba-Ikot Ekpene and what have you; these were all major federal roads that were abandoned. Look at investment in agriculture, does that show a government that has marginalised the people? I am from the Southeast and I am sitting here.
In terms of appointment, would you also say the president has been fair?
Yes, the president has been fair. But like every other person, I would want all appointments in Nigeria to be given to me. It is our wish but we must also in wishing this thing to be like this, we must not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria is a big nation.
Some people said the Southeast only got statutory appointments…
Is my own statutory? It is not statutory because the last MD of this place was from Southwest and if it was statutory, they would have brought a Southwest man. I can mention to you heads of agencies that are from Southeast.
Do you agree that 2023 is the time for the Southeast to produce the Nigerian president?
It is not about whether it is our time but about organising ourselves to look for presidency, to get it. It is not by appointment; power is not given, power is taken. We are looking for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction which means the Northwest man, the Northeast man, the North-central man, the Southwest man and the South-south man are all key stakeholders in determining who will be president. If I want to be president now, for example, I will start building bridges because there is no independent candidate in our constitution. So, it must be a party platform and you and I know that from all indices, from empirical evidence, there are only two platforms that you can use today to actualise the presidency of Nigeria. It is either APC or PDP. So, we as a people should make efforts to get the party structure, to get involved in the party. The truth of the matter is that if you don’t have people around the table when discussions are being taken about you, there is no way you can be considered. So, we must as a people get into APC.
Are you saying that Southeast people are not really in APC?
Northeast people are in APC but we should work harder. We should play politics, we should increase our involvement because we have to win party primaries first before you go for the general election and you cannot take a party that has no office in Karanamoda and expect to win the presidency. It is not feasible and that is why I said the two platforms today are clear.
So what we need to do as a people is to organise ourselves, move into these two platforms and be able to fight for the ticket because it is not about appointment.
How prepared is your party to take Anambra State?
We are highly prepared.
But APGA and PDP are known to be in firm control of Anambra State. So, how is APC prepared because APC seems not to be on the ground in the state now?
That was the same thing you people said in Bayelsa State; that APC was nowhere and when the people were given opportunity to vote, they voted for who they wanted. One thing I can assure you without letting you know our strategy is that as a party, we are organised, we are building more bridges; we are expanding our frontiers; as a party we are consulting amongst ourselves the critical stakeholders; as a party, we are going to present a very good candidate; as a party, we are going to go to this campaign with our report card, what we have done.
There is a zoning arrangement in Anambra State and there are also candidates who have been indicating interest that the zoning may not favour, don’t you think this may lead to an implosion?
I don’t expect any implosion. One thing you must understand about political parties is that it is about interest, people’s interest must clash and what separates party A from B is how you manage this interest. I can assure you boldly that we are going to go to that election united and we are going to fight, campaign aggressively, present our report card even if it means going from house to house to win that election.
Before the coming of the APC, you made an effort by contesting on another platform and even when APC came I think you also made an effort to contest on it. Would 2021 still produce somebody like you to contest?
My fate is in God’s hands and the wishes of Anambra people.
What are your chances?
Go and consult; you go down to the state and ask questions.
Recently some communities and traditional rulers bestowed upon you a title, is this indication of acceptability? What have you done in particular to warrant the title?
In my little way without making so much noise I have done quite a lot to play my role as a citizen. So if the little things I am doing are attracting the attention or may have been the reason for them considering me for the title, I give God all the glory but all the things I have done is devoid of political consideration and that is why I don’t make unnecessary noise about it. But I think my main concern for now is doing my best as the MD of NIWA.
You were one of the top officials of APC. How closely have you monitored the face-off between the current APC National Chairman and his home state governor in Edo State?
The issue of Edo State will be resolved, I can assure you that.
Do you think President Buhari should resign as the Senate Minority Leader said?
For what; that is a brainwave; a man who has such a mandate and support of Nigerians.