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Yar’Adua ‘ll tell Nigerians if he can’t continue, says Moghalu

….Only total reconciliation can make PDP win Anambra

By Gbenga Oke
Chief George Moghalu was one of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP)  aspirants  in  the forthcoming Anambra  2010 governorship election.

In this Interview with Vanguard, he spoke on various issues as they affect PDP in the state. He said PDP must come together under one umbrella if its campaign towards winning Anambra is to be a huge success just as he urged that true reconciliation is the only way of bringing back the aggrieved members of the party presently in court.

According to him, “I expect and I am being very honest about it that everybody must be reconciled in the interest of the party ahead of the election because egos has been bruised and in situations like this, you must stoop to conquer. As a party, every member must stoop to conquer if we must win the election”.

He advised Nigerians to give the leadership of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC  the  benefit of doubt in the forthcoming election. Excerpts :

As a stakeholder in Anambra politics, how would you assess the situation on ground  especially in your party, the PDP where it appears all is not well?

Moghalu
Moghalu

First of all, let us look at the position of Anambra as a state, the position of Anambra in Igbo polity, the position of Anambra in  national politics. If you look at it from all these angles and see what has been happening in the state since this democratic dispensation began in 1999, it’s been very worrisome,  in the sense that both the actions and inactions of the political leaders in the state have over-heated the polity, creating divergent impressions depending on who is assessing the situation and from which angles  these assessments are being made.
So, it calls for great concern because  a lot of people and observers see Anambra as a state that should set the precedence, that should set standard, that should lead while other South-Eastern states  follow. And when you look at the fact that the the state has resources, potentials and human capital, it gives one greater concern to worry. So, I am not too excited about what is happening, I am not too happy being an Anambarian and being a major stakeholder in the state, I am very concerned.

Apart from praying for Anambra, because I believe God controls the affairs of men, we are also consulting other stakeholders. The mistake we  often make is that people assume that it is only politicians that are stakeholders.  This is not right. Everybody in the state is a stakeholder including business men, students, labour leaders, even  house-wives; no matter how you look at it we all have a stake in Anambra.

But then, we must continue to do a lot of this consultation we are doing now, to reach out to as  many people as we can for us to come together to salvage the ugly situation so that each and everyone one of us that is a stakeholder can come together and save us from this embarrasment.

Up till now, some of the aspirants are still in court fighting the candidacy of Soludo. What does this portend for the party in the state and do you  foresee this affecting the fortunes of the party at the forthcoming election?

The position of the National Working Committee in the state has been made clear to us that Charles Soludo remains the candidate of the party in the forthcoming election and the Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor re-emphasised it at the campaign that took off in Onitsha. Having said that, I cannot claim ignorance that there are cases pending in court regarding the issue of the candidacy of the party; who is the candidate of the party and who is not the candidate of the party.

In this case, I believe very strongly that power comes from God and he gives power to whoever he desires. Having said that, we are in a situation whereby there is total collapse of the private sector; so everybody now sees government as business which is most unfortunate and in this case, everybody wants a position, no matter at what level.

So, we should not foget  the fact that because PDP is in majority in most of the states and is controlling the central government and for the fact that PDP has been in government in Anambra in the past, there is a desire or the belief by everybody that once you have the PDP ticket, every other thing shall be added unto it. So, that feeling, either rightly or wrongly propelled a lot of people to show their interests. Also, I can boldly say up to 70 to 80 percent of elite in the state belong to the PDP.

So one will expect that because of this level of membership of the political elite, this will also increase the number of the people that aspire to positions. There is also an avalanche of people even when it comes to local government or councillorship offices because a lot of people are interested.

Also, in politics, you cannot control expectations, you have to allow people to express themselves and that was why when we indicated interest, over 50 people collected the PDP nomination forms to be governor. But, the truth about it is that, 50 of us cannot be governors at the same time, it is only one person.

Now, the party has taken a decision and other aspirants who felt cheated or felt the process by which the candidate was thrown up or emerged is not suitable for them,  decided to challenge it. Some are in court already while some are being dialogued with.

But I expect and I am being very honest about it that everybody must be reconciled in the interest of the party ahead of the election because egos have been bruised and in situations like this, you must stoop to conquer. As a party and candidate, everybody must stoop to conquer  if we must win the election because I am worried about our party suffering an internal problem; we working against ourselves and there is an adage that says “a house divided against itself cannot stand”.

So we need to do everything humanly possible to reconcile these aggrieved members even if it means using the sense of humility, to plead, to beg, to reconcile ourselves so that we can totally work as a team to contest the election. One thing I do know in politics is not to under-estimate the power of other parties. As it is, there are other 20 political parties that have lined up their various candidates.

We cannot say because we are PDP, these people do not exist. No,  I do not like that. I would rather say I would consider everyone even the least of the political parties, I will consider them very important. The only time I can say I have succeded is when the election result  has been declared in my favour; that is my political attitude. My approach to it is that, we must do everything possible as a party to seek for total reconciliation because even if we win, we need that reconciliation to run the state properly.

But it seems nothing has really being achieved  through efforts to   bring back the aggrieved party members ?

I would say yes, the reconciliation has started because I am aware that our leader in the South-East, Olisah Metu has set up a reconciliation committee and I think that committee has the support of the National leadership. Apart from that, I think the candidate himself is a technocrat, and also has some political background. They  have to go to the point to win back any aggrieved person because what you must understand about any aggrived person is that, he has reasons to justify his position and once ego comes in, it becomes more vicious. So, I will want to say that, even if it means massaging people’s ego, even if it means begging, we should all come together as a party.

Having said that, there was this statement credited to the chairman of the party, Vincent Ogbulafor that any aggrieved aspirant who does not support the candidacy of Soludo should leave the party. It seems this statement does not go down well with some aspirants and that is why they have continued to challenge Soludo at the court. From your point of view, should such a statement  have been made, especially, when wounds have not been healed?

No, I wouldn’t support that. I would always toe the path of peace. Asking them to go away may not be the solution. I would rather convince them to stay  rather than tell them to leave the party. It is not in our interest because no matter how in-cosequential anybody can be, they also have their followers no matter how small. It is easier to destroy than to build.

With the way PDP leadership has handled this cases so far, it seems the crises is far from over because one of the arrow heads in the state, Mr Andy Uba has moved to Labour Party . What do you make out of this?

First, I must tell you that I am not aware that Andy Uba has gone  to Labour Party. Like I  have always said, Andy Uba is also a major stakeholder in PDP and cannot be ignored, that is what I know. Why? Because, here was the candidate of the party in 2007, here was somebody who contested election for the party, here was somebody who won election; so you cannot say he is an unwanted person, he has his own followers.

What I would want us to do as a party is to follow up on this rapproachment because egos have been bruised and toes have been trampled upon.  You must appreciate the fact that  you cannot ignore anybody in politics; that is not my understanding of politics. I want to say if there is anything we can do as a party even if it means bending backwards to get him back to the structure so that all of us can go together as a team; I don’t like politics of exclusion.

As the  election date draws closer, how prepared is the  PDP to win  against the background of the cases in court and the fact  that  other candidates like the former Governor Dr Chris Ngige,  Mr Peter Obi who has  the power of incumbency and others big names  are in the race. Do you think your party stands a chance in a free and fair election?

I know that every effort is being made and if you look at the pronouncements of the national leadership down to the zonal levels, you will see there is a very strong desire to win the election in the state in 2010. It still goes down to what I  have been saying that you don’t ignore or underestimate the power of other opponents because they are also desirous of winning the election otherwise, they wouldn’t go contesting.

The incumbent governor will like to do a second term,  Dr Ngige the former governor who is also running  will  like to win;  the other parties even  the least party will also want to win. What we must understand is that, while party A has larger followership, party B may not. While party A has an avalanche of political actors, party B may not, where party A has the resources, party B may not.

So, I believe that everybody  is seriously involved within their party circles preparing for this same election. Therefore, that is why I always say that for PDP as a party, we have a lot of advantages but it is important that we harness  this advantage for the success of the party and one of these advantages is that of the followership.  We have the foot soldiers on ground in various local governments, but then we must harness  these foot soldiers because you cannot really depend on their loyalty.

These are the people I am saying we should try and make  happy. If there are people sitting on the fence, we should try and draw them back even if it takes massaging their ego so that everybody will now see this ” operation win Anambra State”  as a collective project.

Then it will be easier for us because all of us would have worked together. We will spend limited resources because the expenditure will now be spread across. So, I believe that PDP as a party is ready for this election and I want to say that everybody within the PDP including me is deirous of the party winning the election, but the truth about it is that, we must ensure we remain together to to be able to win  in a free and fair poll.

As far as INEC is concerned, the Anambra election next year will be a litmus test test of what to expect in 2011 and a lot of stakeholders in the country have  been raising eyebrows over  what INEC will do. Do you foresee INEC conducting a free and fair election in state especially when people have always seen the commission asbeing partial?

First of all, you cannot understand the heart  through the construction of the face, but I want to believe that following the assurances made by the leadership of INEC, that they are going to give Nigerians a free and fair election in 2010 using Anambra as a test case, so that they can present to us what will happen in 2011. I want to believe that and I have no reason to doubt INEC because you cannot say they can’t do it until they have done it. So, since they have given repeated assurances, I want to say we should give them a benefit of doubt.

Whatever the benefit of doubt is, Nigerians will still have their reservations concerning INEC due to what we have seen in the past….

(Cuts in)Of course, the people’s doubt is  anchored on their observations of past elections, but I also know that INEC have received enough criticisms for them to know that by now, they need to know how to tidy up whatever deficiency they observed in previous elections so that they can present themselves in a better light. I also believe that they have dignity because  there is life after public office.

So, I  believe that these are men who will also want to be remembered for what they did and they should see Anambra as a way of redeeming their image and reputation so that they can restore the confidence of the people towards 2011. I want to believe that.

What do you make out of calls by some politicians in the country that President Yar’Adua should resign from office  due to ill-health….

First, I wish the President quick recovery and it is expected that once in a while, one can be sick. I also know that the presidency is not a one man show, it is a collective because the president has his vice and the ministers and other set of officials working with him. And now that the President is sick and receiving treatment,it does not mean other arms of  the government have to stop work.

So, I think we should all be praying for our president’s health wishing him quick recovery. So, I don’t see reasons for any call for resignation, it is uncessary at this point in time. I don’t also see  the  existence of any  vacancy; a vacancy cannot exist  in a position that is being occupied.

I also know that the president I know is a man of integrity; if he thinks he won’t be able to continue, he will tell Nigerians because he loves himself and his family also loves him being alive. So, I am sure that once he knows he won’t be able to run the office of the president of Nigeria effectively, I am sure that nobody will tell him what to do. But based on what the medical team and people that visited him said, I think there is no cause for alarm.

So, the call for resignation is not……

(Cuts in) It is un-neccessary for now.

How will you assess the government of Governor Peter Obi in the last 4years in the state?

Assessment of any government is based on the promises the person made and what you as a major stakeholder expects the government to do within a specified time provided for the mandate. In my own assessment, they have done their best, but I think their best is not good enough for Anambra because any government that cannot provide adequate security for lives and properties, as far as I am concerned has failed and today, any government that cannot address the issue of infrastructure cannot be said to have done well.

Any government that cannot address the issue of un-employment cannot be said to have performed. But I must be honest with you, they have tried their best within their power and level; they have done well because the task they set for themselves, they may have passed, but if you check their results alongside our own assessment, there is still a lot to be done because when you talk about performance, you have to relate it to how much the state received.


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