By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Chief George Moghalu is the immediate past National Auditor of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Moghalu is, currently, the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA. In this interview, he says his geopolitical zone is not marginalized in President Muhammadu Buhari government. He rather asks his kinsmen to start building bridges across the nation for the 2023 presidency.
How do 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 looking 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 is still quite a lot to be done.
Also read: APC crisis: Group commends Buhari over reconstitution of Akande-led reconciliation committeeSo, I always describe our nation and party as work in progress. As we work, there are new realities, new challenges and we keep addressing them and keep looking ahead. If you could remember, our presidential candidate then, who was later elected President in 2015 and 2019, anchored his campaign on three planks: addressing insecurity, fight corruption and build the economy, and if you look at those three areas, an honest assessor would be able to say, yes, he has not reached 100% but he has done very well. If you remember, at the time our party was elected into government in 2015, over 14 local governments in this country were under the control of Boko Haram to the extent that they were flying their flags on the soil of Nigeria, to the extent that they had administrations running these places, but, today, you don’t have those things anymore. No inch of Nigerian soil is under the control of any other person other than the leadership of this nation led by President Buhari as elected by the people of Nigeria. Now, the morale of the armed forces before he came was very low, today it is not the same. There are new acquisitions in terms of military hardware, training potentials, the welfare of the troops and personnel on the front burner and they have been doing well and that is not to say we have conquered insecurity completely. No. Today, what you have now are flashpoints. You have Boko Haram or some other terrorist organizations or individuals looking for soft targets to attack, that wasn’t the case before. Before our party came into office,Nigeria was under siege, everybody understands that but that is not the story today. There is still a lot to be done. I agree and the government is conscious of that fact and that is why an effort has remained consistent. For example, have you taken time to look at the speech of Mr President in Ethiopia recently? He said all our children kept in captivity will be rescued and that goes to show a man that is determined and a man who has direction. You don’t need anybody to preach to you or to explain to you the extent that this country has gone on the fight against corruption. What we all know is that as you fight corruption, corruption fights back, but, today it is not business as usual. Before anybody now thinks of any corrupt activity, he looks back. Fighting corruption, arresting people is no more the affair of the poor man as the high profiles are also being careful now. So, the fight against corruption, I expect and I believe very strongly, is everybody’s fight. It is not about the President’s fight, it is not about the fight of the executive, it is everybody’s fight. That’s why I like this quote “that if you don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”. On the economy, as we speak today, the economy is being aggressively diversified. There is a reduced emphasis on oil which used to be the mainstay. Today we are talking about agriculture. Very soon, we will become a net exporter of rice and the government is investing aggressively in agriculture today unlike before. Emphasis is also being put on mineral resources and the steel sector. There are activities in other areas that can help in stabilizing our economy. So the government is doing quite a lot in that area but I will always like to say that a lot is still yet to be done and that is why I always describe it as work in progress.Most Nigerians will disagree 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 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. Recently, Nigerians came down hard on the Service Chiefs, calling for their immediate sack. Aggregating all of 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 as well?I said we have not gotten to where we want to be. We have not arrived at our destination; that 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 the same. If you could remember when there was insecurity walk led by the General Overseer of 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 is still more work to be done.Would you want the Service Chiefs to continue?Why I am a little bit careful about that is that I may not have access to information with regard to how the security community 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. So, I may not be very informed as to coming out here and boldly to say they should go or they should not go because of those that are saying they should go have reasons for saying they should go. Those saying they shouldn’t go also have reasons and I want to believe that all these people have information and intelligence report that is not available to me. But then to whom much is given much is also expected. Those who are clamouring that they should go may hinge their argument on the fact that he who is at the head should take responsibility. That is also a fact that you cannot ignore. I will think that if getting new ideas on how to address the security challenge is the only option, then we have no choice. 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. We should not fan the embers of discord; we should be able to give information to security agencies. They are not spirits and these people who are attacking also are not spirits.You may be surprised to know that people may have information that may help security agencies but they are reluctant to give it; some may be for political reasons.Can you share your thoughts on the establishment of Amotekun, Shege Ka Fasa and then the community policing mechanism which the South-East 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. Even by the time we set up our community police and we don’t give them information, they may also not achieve the desired result. Intelligence gathering is a critical aspect of security operations. So, we all have a role to play. So, anything we can do to make our environment secure is a welcomed development without expanding our flanks because what we have now is that we are leaving the issues that shouldn’t be playing politics with and trying to play politics with them. We should avoid anything that would create greater tension in our nation today. We are in a situation where we need to be our brother’s keeper, we are in a situation where we need to love ourselves more than before; we are in a situation where we should play down on anything that would create tendency for separation; rather we should be looking for things that would hold us together.This is your fourth month serving in this capacity, how has it 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 saw the potentials in this sector and we are working to see to what extent we can bring to the knowledge of Nigerians these potentials.What are the potentials?I have always said it that the moment we develop our waterways, the moment we 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. A few days back, we signed a memorandum of understanding with NUPENG on the issue of moving petroleum products 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. If you move 1,000 containers by road, you have 1,000 trailers on the road and, by the time you remove these 1,000 containers form the road and move them by water, what you have done is that you have removed 1,000 trailers from the road. Once you have saved our roads, you have created new employment opportunities. So, there are huge potentials in the marine sector. We have not looked at the eco-tourism aspect of it and we are exploring that and we are getting into PPP arrangement with a lot of groups that have shown interest.There are concerns that the waters are not dredged especially in the South-East and South-South; their levels are not enough to carry some of these ships…
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 do maintenance dredging, though we have one or two dredgers we are acquiring more so that this maintenance dredging becomes a continuous thing because the sand movement is a continuous thing. Even the issues of water hyacinth, floating debris and what have you. As we speak now, we have made some procurement and the process of clearing water hyacinth is ongoing, clearing of floating debris and others, they are all ongoing at the moment.This is a continuous thing but 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 all active, what that means is the communities around the river banks will also develop along the line. You see new schools, new markets, you see houses and the rest developing along the riverbank especially those communities where we have jetties and river ports. I am sure we are going to get to our desired destination. 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. NIWA’s right of ways is being used by people illegally and without even thinking that they need a permit and then pay the required fees and things like that but all these we are trying to change.Are there some sensitization programmes for people to know more about NIWA?Yes, we are doing that. We are relating to people, we are creating forums and, very soon, we are going to send you an invitation to our stakeholders’ forum. We want to get people to talk, to tell us their own views on what they want the waterways to look like and I am sure that a lot of people want to buy into it.Talking about dousing the tension in the polity, there is this feeling of marginalization, especially from the South-East. Some even thought the statement made by the President when he was elected the first time that he got only 5% vote from the South-East; are there efforts and what would you say to disabuse the minds of the people of the South-East?The truth about it is that this is stale news. When people say marginalization, I say present the facts because I have facts to prove that we are not marginalized. Let’s look at the massive infrastructural development in the South-East. In the16 years of the PDP administration, the second Niger Bridge was a mirage, was mere promises until this administration came into being; what we are talking about now is the date of completion and the contractors have mentioned when they are going to complete it. In the next one and a half years, it will be completed, go there and see what is going on. Does that show a government that is marginalizing 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 marginalized the people? I am from the South-East and I am sitting here.In terms of appointment, would you 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 not lose sight of the fact that Nigeria is a big nation.Some people said that the South-East only got statutory appointments…Is my own statutory? It is not statutory because the last MD of this place was from the South-West and, if it was statutory, they would have brought aSouth-West man. I can mention to you heads of agencies that are from South-East.Do you think 2023 is the time for the South-East to produce the President?It is not about whether it is our time but about organizing ourselves to look for the presidency, to get in. It is not by appointment and power is not given, power is taken. We are looking for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction which means the North-West man, the North-East man, the North-Central man, the South-West 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 actualize 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 decisions are being taken you, there is no way you can be considered. So, we must as a people get into APC.Are you saying that South-East people are not really in APC?We 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 elections and you cannot take a party that has no office in Kaura Namoda 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 organize ourselves, move into these two platforms and be able to fight for the ticket because it is not about the appointment.How prepared is your party to take Anambra State?Very prepared.APGA and PDP are in firm control of Anambra. So, how is APC prepared because APC is not on the ground in Anambra as it is now?One thing I can assure you without letting you know our strategy is that as a party we are organized, 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 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 who do you manage this interest for? I am sure that platforms will be created for talking, consultations, give and take and things like that. 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 wish 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 an indication of acceptability? What have you done in particular to warrant the title?In my little way and without making so much noise I have done quite a lot to play my role as a citizen. It may interest you to know that I am the brain behind Zimuzo Development Foundation. It is a foundation I have been using for a very long time to offer services, make contributions here and there, to the welfare of people, associations, communities and what have you. 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, achieving my mandate, surpassing the target I set for myself and that is my primary target for now.You were one of the officials of APC. How closely have you monitored this face-off between the current National Chairman and his home state governor in Edo?The issue of Edo will be resolved, I can assure you that.Let’s look at this reconciliation committee, panel. How do you think this will play out?It is a good thing and I was very happy when I saw it and that goes to show you that the leadership of the party, today, is mindful of the wish of the people and it is desirous of achieving peace. It takes a National Chairman or National Working Committee that feels the pulse of the party people across the country to come with a position that has to do with reconciliation. As I said, party politics is a human organization, interest, ambitions and what have you that will clash; it depends on how it is managed. So I want to commend the National Chairman and his working committee for coming with the idea of a reconciliation committee. I am excited because one; we have identified that we have an issue and there is need for us to reconcile and what they have succeeded in doing now is to create a platform for everybody to vent his anger, the committee will hear everybody out. You may find out that some of these challenges we have maybe a mere gossip threw them up because some people may be benefiting from them. Some people might be busy trying to hit A with B because by doing so they have returns and gains they make, so these are some of the things you must take into account. So I am very excited with the establishment of the reconciliation committeeDo 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.