BY GABRIEL EWEPU
DR. George Moghalu is a former national secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and presently, secretary of the party’s recently constituted National Rebuilding and Inter-party Contact Committee. A former gubernatorial candidate of the party in Anambra State, Chief Moghalu has remained faithful to the party in trouble and triumphant times and he is belived to be a mobile reference on the affairs of the party. In this interview, he reviews the state of the nation and how the opposition is responding to the dominance of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Excerpts:
Nigeria just celebrated 14 years of uninterrupted democracy. What is your assessment of the country’s democracy, do you think it is worth celebrating?
It is a yes or no answer, and also we thank God that democracy has lasted this long in the light of our history. I also must be bold enough to say that we have really not achieved as expected within the time frame of their efforts, there are things that grieve me that we have not impacted very positively as much as expected in the lives of our countrymen. I cannot boldly say that there is an improvement in their living standards; we have security challenges, we have issues with our education, health system, power, which has remained a consistent decimal and recurring issue in our country today.
Performance of opposition parties
So invariably speaking, we cannot say we have gotten there, but we must also be grateful to God to the extent we have gone, but a lot is still expected.
Do you think the opposition parties have done well in their job of checking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP?
If you look at the performance of the opposition parties we must also look at the challenges. I have said it time and time again, we are in a system and situation where government has become the only business, which has brought about the total collapse of the private sector. You and I know that it is the private sector that funds the opposition. And in a situation where the private sector has practically collapsed there is no way you expect government to fund opposition against itself, rather they will do what to stifle, frustrate and kill opposition.
That has been the problem in this country. Just like any developing polity as ours, it is usually the desire of the government of the day to kill opposition and to stifle them. Forgetting to realise that a vibrant opposition guarantees good governance. You can only do that when the opposition is vibrant and strong, and rather than kill the opposition the expectation is rather for the government to encourage the opposition is to grow. So looking at it from that perspective, the opposition has tried.
Do you think the coming of the All Progressives Congress, APC, will do better?
The indices are there, APC is a mega political platform and is a coalition of individually strong platforms coming together to form a mega and strong platform that will provide both a credible and viable alternative for Nigerians.
What is the journey so far about the registration of APC with INEC?
In 2015, APC will be there, and there will be a critical change, but my appeal is to the electoral umpire security agencies to see themselves as the people holding the sacred mandate, who are expected to do what is right by creating the enabling environment for free, fare and transparent elections.
We have gone very far about the registration of APC with INEC. Initially nobody gave APC or the promoters the chance of coming together, but everybody is surprised. It reached a point where all parties have concluded their conventions and have endorsed the process, approved the working documents; constitution, manifesto and the logo approved by the merging parties. The stage where we are now is to make some necessary conclusions, and INEC will be written. The process is very clear in the Electoral Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and we are methodically following the process.
When do we expect the APC to come on board?
Very soon APC will be on board as a political party after INEC has done verifications. So I cannot tell you precisely when it will be. There are guidelines we are following that have to do with INEC, and allowing the time within the law, and for INEC to do all their verifications. One thing I can say is that we are consistent and conscious of the expectations of Nigerians, and we are working towards our target, that is to get APC registered and registered as quickly as possible.
What do you envisage about 2015 as far as the country’s democracy is concerned?
2015 will certainly throw up new challenges because there is a new kid on the block. By 2015, APC will be there, APC wasn’t there in the last election. Therefore, there will be a critical change with dynamism.
The only appeal I will make and had always made is the appeal to the electoral umpires; the security agencies to see themselves as the people holding a sacred mandate, people who are expected to do what is right by creating the enabling environment for free, fare and transparent elections.
And the moment we achieve that we are on the highway to success, because all that I believe as the worst form of corruption is electoral corruption because in electoral corruption you are infringing on the fundamental right of the electoral right of Nigerians, the ability to choose who they want to lead them.
The moment you rob Nigerians on that, that is the worst thing you can do to anybody, because you have denied the person the opportunity to speak as far as I am concerned and then, you have removed the accountability from the process because it is only when the electioneering process is credible, free and fare that the candidate will be forced to enter into commitment and agreement with the electorate.
It is only when the peoples’ votes count that candidates are bound, whether they like it or not to go to their constituents and plead with the people who represent them for what they want and the people will ask them to do what they want, and will also ask for their past record if they have done anything.