By Chidi Obineche
Chief George Moughalu is the National Auditor of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and a governorship aspirant in the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State. He speaks on the party governance in Nigeria, the President’s illhealth and the governorship election in Anambra State, among other topical issues.
Sunday Sun met him in Abuja.
Let’s start with developments within the polity, the problem concerning the health of the president, how is the party looking at the melodrama?
I really don’t see any drama at all. The truth is that Mr President is sick, he has said it himself, the Presidency has confirmed it and he is taking medication. Then, I don’t know why we appear to be sham, young men usually get sick, old men get sick, young women get sick, old women get sick and here is a seventy something year old man now, who has the stress of public office added to the responsibility he has, so I don’t see anything exceptional. He is sick and taking medical care.
Ok, people are only bothered about the constitutional implications because section 143, section 144 clearly establishes what a president should do when he is sick and how the country should be run in the event of the president being sick and incapacitated to perform the functions of his office.
We must be able to separate the two positions, one is being sick and one is being incapacitated. Mr President is not incapacitated, Mr President is sick. You saw him recently receiving the Chibok girls, spoke to them; and then before he left, he handed over constitutionally to the Vice President and the leadership of the National Assembly was also informed and the statement to that effect was made public. So I don’t see any breach here or anything to worry about.That’s why the framework of the constitution provided for advice for situations like this, because we must make provisions that being human, one can ordinarily get sick.The only reason this one is news is because he is the president of Nigeria. Otherwise, there are men in his age bracket, in their 70s who are sick today and sickness does not mean death, sickness does not mean incapacitation. Headache is sickness, malaria is sickness, so there are various kinds of sicknesses, but he feels being a democrat, a key democrat that he is, he feels that the best thing for him to do was to go for medical check. That is what he has done and in doing that he handed over constitutionally to the Vice President. If you look at the reportage in all the papers today, you will find out that he has said that nobody should worry, that he is not worried, that government would be running and government is running because there is a Vice President whose role is also clearly spelt out that in situations like this he should take charge, and that is what has happened.
Now some people are also worried about the Executive- Senate face-off . What is your party doing about it, because it has been simmering for a very long time in a kind of cold war?
Is there any face –off in the real sense?
There is, especially with the Ibrahim Magu and former SGF matter. When the Senate felt the president created unavoidable problems with them …
I thought these issues have already been overtaken by events?
No. Magu is still in office on acting basis…
For the SGF issue ( Secretary to the Government of the Federation), Mr president set up a Committee that is addressing that alongside that of the DG of NIA. Same thing is applicable to the Magu scenario. The Senate has come up with a position, the Presidency is yet to react to the position that the Senate has come up with. You see, I think that these things are expected and it goes to show the level of democratic freedom you have in an APC-led government. Don’t forget that in the Senate, APC is the majority and we have APC Presidency. We have an APC party and people are allowed to air their views, people are allowed to disagree with establishments, it should be credit for us unlike before when it had to be “carry go on” or when it had to be family affair. This is not in APC, we allow democracy to be fully played out, we allow people to express their views. Though the minority would have their say, the majority would still have its own at the end of the day. But the point is that we allow everybody to come out of his or her position. For me, I don’t think there is any speculation. There may be disagreement on issues. That is why we are all human.
But has the party in anyway reacted to any disagreement between the executive and the senate?
I don’t think that there is any disagreement. We are not talking about reactions on the part of the party for now because there is no disagreement.
But the Magu issue has not been resolved?
You see, the other day, the national leadership of our party visited the Senate members of APC.We had a meeting with them,, we also did it with the House of Reps, we also did it with the state chairmen of our party, we also did it with various sections of the leadership in the APC and government. That is a political party and there are components that make up this political party. We have members drawn across the legislature, the executive, the party itself and then consulting with these various organs of the party. It’s a continuous thing, you understand? Tomorrow, Mr Chairman may decide in consultation with members of the National Executive Committee that we are going to meet the ministers of the federation and we meet them because they are party members. We meet them to sound them out, to know if they have challenges and we also, if we have challenges we present before them because there is a probability that by the time you present your challenges before a group , they may proffer solutions that would help you to get out of the problem you have. But I don’t think that there is any cause to worry about or for alarm. The important thing is that this is democracy and consultation is on all the way.
Now, the crisis in the PDP. Some people are saying that the hand of APC is in it?
The point is that whenever there is a problem you tend to look for someone to blame, somebody must be blamed and I would advise them to look inward and solve their problem out and leave APC alone. They should solve their problem. In APC we are too busy to think of how to meddle into the affairs of a rival political party. Our prayer for them, like we have always encouraged, we have always said that we need a vibrant opposition because we believe and I personally strongly believe that for us to have the best of democracy, we need a very strong opposition. Because, when opposition is very strong, the government in power would be more responsible, would be more committed to delivery on its promises.
I think the thing is fueled mainly by the fact that when the other faction won at the high court level nothing happened. But when the Sheriff faction won at the Appeal Court, the police immediately opened the locked doors of their secretariat for them without waiting for the Supreme Court
The truth about it is that the police is not a department of APC. This is the police of Nigeria. So the question would have been better asked the police, whether they are acting under any influence or whether they are acting for us. The truth about it is that if they have any problem, let them sort out their problem. The police is not tied to the apron string of APC. APC as a political party is neither tied to the police. The truth is that in democracy, the judiciary has a very strong role to play; the Federal Government has a very strong role to play. So, now that there have been disagreements among themselves, and have turned it to the courts, they should be patient and wait for the judiciary to finally adjudicate, so that whoever is declared the winner, the other person would now know that he exits at the end of the road. Unfortunately, where they are now in the Supreme Court is the end of the road.
Based on the tension in the land, which of these forms of government would you prefer – federalism or the unitary system which we are practicing?
Well, true federalism is always for me the driving force of democracy. Each form of government has its own advantages and disadvantages. We must take that into account. But for true Federalism which connotes so to speak, the independence of component parts of the state to the extent that they raise their stakes, they use the resources available to them within their area of control. So for me I would be more inclined to true Federalism.
What about the third tier of government, do you believe in it?
Very strongly, very strongly. I am one of the believers in that tier of government. I believe we need to have a strong, viable third tier of government because they are nearer to the people. I am one of those who oppose government, who don’t organize local government elections. like in my state where local government elections have not been held
These IPOB people have been creating a lot of problems in Igbo land, why don’t you people step in and stop the menace in Igbo land?
I am a very peaceful person by nature. For me, I believe that the best way to resolve any disagreement no matter how contentious it is, no matter how contentious the arguments are is to go for dialogue. Just check it, no settlement can be achieved through war. At the end of the day, they would still go back to dialogue. They would disagree to agree on the table and then everybody stands to benefit from it. So, I have always advised that yes, the IPOB, the MASSOB, everybody may have grievances, they may have issues that have importance, but I believe that the best way for us to achieve that, that would be in our collective interest is by articulating our views and pursuing it through a very peaceful means, so that we can discuss it and we take a position. There are many channels we can explore to bring our views, to bring our pains and our disagreement to the table and to the front burner, and Nigeria would seem embedded to it.
Anambra state is warming up for election sometime this year. I think sometime in November. Election in Anambra is always a very big event in Nigeria, I don’t know why. Why do you think that Anambra elections are usually very chaotic?
I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t want to say chaotic, but if you say that, like you started by saying that it is a very big event, because we are Anambra, that may be our Unique Selling Point, and it is a very serious issue, coupled with the fact that it is going to be a oneoff election, it is not going to be a general election like in 2019. So it’s just going to be an election for Anambra State governorship and when such happens every eye would be on the state. So that alone is due to what I call apprehension or due recognition of what is going to happen. So for me, it’s not going to be a problem. The important thing is that things are done right and then those who are positioning to contest the election should also do it to the level of civility. We should not allow our state to be recognized with things bad, whatever we would do to make reference to our state to be for good, that is what we should do ,and that is what should be good to our minds, families, wards and so on.
Some parties like APGA can be an obstacle. Apart from being the ruling party, APC has not actually permeated the fabric of Anambra State and has not been well accepted. How do you assess the chances of APC to take over the government in Anambra State in the forthcoming election?
We are the grand masters and we are going to win the election. I’m very confident and we are talking to our people. The other day, someone was saying, oh this man has no structure, that one does not have structure. I asked one question; these structures we are talking about, is it buildings or human beings? Because if it’s buildings, yes there are, but if human beings, you should go back and make proper enquires before you determine who has greater structure. I know very strongly that that issue of structure, of being on ground is more on perception not reality. The question is, on ground to do what? What have they achieved?
The thing is that APGA is Igbo party
What is it, that’s bunkum as far as I am concerned. Am I not an Igbo man? Why am I not in the party? Those of us which one is Igbo party? Don’t they have office in Lagos? They have office in Lagos, they have office in Abuja here and I know their office in Abuja. Their National secretary is from Nassawara state, is he an Igbo man? So that thing is just a joke, a rise from the pit of hell all in attempt to win support and sabotage, but the truth remains that APC as a political party, our people have tested them for over a long period of time and they don’t have anything to show for it, the potentials of Anambra State have not been maximized, people don’t have confidence in their government, we want to bring a change and an average Anambra person believes that this is the time, APC is on ground in Anambra State, very much on ground.
On a personal level, how do you assess your chances in the race, because there are a lot of heavyweights that are showing interest like Senator Ngige and a few other people?
I’m not aware Ngige is running in the elections. He has said that he is not running, except he changes his mind tomorrow. But as at now, he said he is not running. But how do you think that he would come from outside and win the ticket, beating those of us who are on the ground..
People like Tony Nwoye and some others are also strong. He came second in the last election.
I came second when I ran in 2003, have you forgotten that?. I also came second in 2015. The truth about it is that if you walk on your road, you can take your pay on your road. If you can’t work on your road and want to be paid on your road , it can’t work. You can’t enter a party and want to take the drivers sit, it doesn’t make sense, even amongst armed robbers there are codes and conduct. So we must tell ourselves the truth. We are very happy that they are all joining the party.
What about the incumbency factor?
I was excited. Those of them who visited our secretariat to tell me, if you ask them, they would tell you that I celebrated their coming. Because, I believe that when you come into a party, the right thing to do is to join the queue, you can’t come in and chase those who have been there away to wait for you to get the ticket. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair.
At a broader level, how do you look at the incumbency factor in the election?
Incumbency factor can only be useful when you have developed, when you are doing well, that is the only time incumbency becomes a plus. But when you are not doing well, there is nothing like that. If there is nothing else that I have seen happen, I have seen an incumbent president removed in Africa and that happened with this our election.
What about the name association syndrome? Ojukwu is believed to be the founding father of APGA and they are playing on the name even as he is dead.
Ojukwu is from my place, Ojukwu is a celebrity and we are very happy. He is one of our leaders who even in death we respect and honour him. But the point is that when the government has been in position for the past three to four years, you should sell that government on your performance. It’s your performance that would sell it. After you have been in the office for four years, then you still want to campaign by using someone’s name, it goes to show that you are incompetent. Your achievement should be the one selling you. It’s marketing we are talking about. The easiest campaign for an incumbent is not about what I would do, it’s about what I have done and what I am doing. It’s about performance and not about what I would do. Any incumbent that would come out to tell you that this is what I am going to do, then, he is telling you lies. You should ask him questions on what has he done. So l don’t want to hear that what the government has to offer in the Anambra election is to tell us that Ojukwu belongs to us, therefore we should support the party. If it is that we’ve done this, we’ve done that, it can be verified. Then we can now use that ability to consider you, but not to tell me that because my late uncle happens to belong to the party, then that is the reason for you to be elected. It doesn’t make sense now.
On a final note, what do you say to the people of Anambra state?
Let us be praying, and please they should collect their PVCs, for those who have not registered, please go and register and be captured. Those who were not of age in the last election, and who have become of age now should please go and register and get their PVCs and be ready to vote. That is my major appeal. And secondly, when they are going to vote, let them not vote based on foolish sentiment. Let us all vote independently ,by the reality on ground and how to make our state great.