Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The former National Auditor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and now Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu, has been in the vanguard of projecting Igbo presidency in 2023 through the APC platform.
In this interview, Moghalu suggested various ways the Igbo can actualise the dream of winning the presidency among other national issues.
As the MD of Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), what are you missing most by leaving the APC headquarters as the National Auditor?
Naturally, I am missing my colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC), the friendship and camaraderie we previously share together. We have had a relationship of more than five years working together; though we still communicate, talk on phones and meet once opportunity permits, however, what is certain is that we cannot see as often as the way we used to in the past especially as the headquarters of my agency is located in Kogi, not Abuja.
What was it like changing position from party leadership to heading a big agency like NIWA?
There is nothing so special about the two responsibilities. The situation of being at the level of executive decision making is the same everywhere. It is about understanding and addressing the core mandate in any office one is occupying. It is about understanding the role expected of one and dealing with it.
I agree that I was previously taking decision that has to do with party politics and that looking at the finances of the party in my role as the national auditor is entirely different from what I do now as the Managing Director and CEO of an authority as critical as NIWA, but the principle of administration still remains the same. For me, I have adapted and it is about studying and understanding my environment and responsibilities, looking at the rules and ensuring that I follow them to the letters.
How much of the targets you set for yourself have you achieved since your appointment?
I did set target for myself and the principal target I set is to bring NIWA to the consciousness of every Nigerian. I want to contribute in making water transportation the transport means of choice and hub both for cargo and human. I am happy that we have achieved that much since my appointment. Without sounding immodest, we have done reasonably well so far.
We have done well to bring NIWA to the public domain and we will keep doing that because NIWA has been under-publicised before now. We are doing everything within our limit to bring it to the general consciousness of the society to enable people understand the responsibilities of the organisation. These are the critical variables we must address and I can say so far, so good.
What do you tell those still feeling that NIWA MD is not a juicy appointment befitting your status?
I have said it repeatedly that I am qualified to be a Counsellor and also qualified to be the president of this country. I see service at every front as a responsibility provided to everybody by God. It is a sacred trust that you are expected to give account if not here, then in the world after.
So, for me, service at all levels is very important and critical to the society and personal conscience. Again, heading this agency will add to my credibility and credentials. For me, there is no big or small office and I have never seen any office as so. I always regard every office as an opportunity to serve and contribute to the society.
More importantly, I have never been an apostle to this concept of juicy or important appointment. The important thing for me here is that by the time I leave this particular responsibility, when I look back, I will beat my chest and say that I have contributed my quota with satisfaction and that I have done my best, leaving people to access and know where to place me.
How I have been able to achieve a healthy relationship with the staff of the agency is not about me to tell because I cannot assess myself. It is left for people to assess me. However, the truth is that I have good working relationship with every member of staff of NIWA. I was well received when I resumed and the love has continued to grow since then.
I want to strongly believe that we are doing well in terms of interpersonal relationship. We are also doing well in terms of individual and collective commitment to building this organisation to play a key role. For me, we are on the trajectory of delivering on our mandate because everybody understands their specific responsibilities.
How much of the happenings in the APC are you aware of and how much of time is your office allowing to be in touch with Anambra politics?
I am certainly very much in touch with the happenings in my party, the APC. I cannot miss or stop being a party man even as I found myself here. I am still in touch from my ward, Local Government to the state and national level. As I earlier said, I cannot stop identifying with the party.
I am very much in touch with my people in Anambra. I relate very well with my party at the constituency, Local Government and state levels. We should not also lose sight of the fact that we are in a global village where everybody is one phone call away from each other.
I still relate closely with my people and constantly visit home at the slightest opportunity my office can permit. Where my attention is required, I make sure I give it without compromising my responsibility.
Anambra State governorship election is almost a year away, are you reconsidering re-contesting the governorship position?
I will certainly re-contest and I am open to the will of the people. Don’t lose sight of the fact that it is not yet time to discuss about Anambra governorship contest.
For now, I am the Managing Director of NIWA and doing my best and doing everything to make sure I succeed remains my primary responsibility for now. When the time comes to open the chapter of discussion on Anambra politics, we will play it.
How true is the impression by many stakeholders that what will be the biggest challenge confronting APC Anambra State chapter ahead of the election is the crisis rocking the party at the state level?
I have always said that politics is a human organisation where interest will certainly clash. It is the management of these interests that separates group A from group B. Every one of us in Anambra has interest and ambition but I can assure you that we will manage it and understand very clearly that we need to be united to achieve success at the end of the day.
Did the happenings in the APC like President Buhari announcing that he is not interested in third term and the persistent call for the sack of the party’s National Chairman come as surprise to you?
When Mr President reaffirmed his commitment to the stipulation of the constitution, I felt vindicated because when I said that Mr President that I know will not contemplate going for third term, some people felt that I am a Buhari man, which I have no apology.
The truth remains that we are dealing with a president that has character, wants to leave a legacy, structure this nation politically and grow democracy in Nigeria. He will not go against the constitution and I am happy that he has addressed it, announcing boldly that he will not go for third term.
As for the plot against Oshiomhole, I will say that I don’t know anything about that because I am no longer around the headquarters to understand why somebody will canvas such position. What are their reasons for such demand?
He may not meet everybody’s expectation and there is no way he would do that as a human being. However, the truth remains that he is the chairman of the party today and nobody wishes a party chairman away, not even a ward chairman let alone the national chairman. You must present cogent argument why you want the chairman to go. But more importantly, you have to follow democratic process in removing him.
There is a constitutional process to remove anybody in such position because when you present argument that the chairman will go, the other side may present stronger argument why he should not go. Those demanding that he must go must convince those that are not at the centre or at the party leadership why he must go.
Does it bother you that the APC governors have joined the campaign for Oshiomhole’s removal?
I don’t know the governors that have joined the campaign to remove Oshiomhole. Name those that have joined the campaign and tell me why they think he must go. If you say that the governor of Edo State wants the chairman to go, it is understandable. They are already in disagreement but you cannot use that as the basis to determine the status and future of the chairman.
I would wish reconciliation for the two of them. As a man of peace, I look for peace in every situation but in looking for peace, we should also ensure that we must come to equity with clean hands. We must be sincere, honest about it and pursue peace in accordance with the dictate of the Bible to seek peace with all men.
If I am in a reconciliation table with two of them, I will urge them to explore a peaceful resolution to the dispute. They must follow the road to take them to the land of peace. I must warn that in looking for peace, they should understand that respect begets respect.
Everybody must understand their limit. There is this Igbo proverb which says that if you don’t know where the rain starts beating you, you will not know where it stopped beating you.
Have you changed your mind on Igbo presidency in 2023?
You remember that I have said it repeatedly that we should talk about a president of Nigeria but of Igbo extraction. I agree that Igbo presidency should come to fruition in 2023, but the Igbo have to work for it because power is not given but taken. There are only two viable platforms today to talk about the presidency of Nigeria in 2023 of which APC is one while the PDP is another.
Before the 2019 elections, all of us were in the vanguard of canvasing to our people to avoid putting our eggs in one basket and that we must play national politics and be involved in the process.
We ought to know that tickets are not sent to people at home because there must be a primary process whether it is a consensus and if you are not at the centre table where the issues are discussed and decision taken, how will you be considered.
As a trend, we must make our presence felt in the APC as the party in government as we speak. APC is a strong platform for the Igbo to seek the presidency of Nigeria but the Igbo must be involved in choosing the presidential candidate.
What should the Igbo do to get the ticket into Aso Rock?
They should key into the electoral process and into the Nigeria project, take over the political parties, work hard, and negotiate for power by building bridges across the ethnic divides. To run for president and win as an Igboman, you must have strong contacts in the North, West, North Central, South-South and everywhere that will be able to drive the candidacy.
If we as Igbo are interested in becoming the president of Nigeria, we need to engage the other ethnic groups that will vote because it is not going to come like appointment. I don’t have any fear of Igbo producing president in 2023 because I am not God and what I will not do is to arrogate to myself the power of a soothsayer because I am not one.
However, I still believe that to achieve good result during examination, you must prepare for it. If you go into any exam unprepared, you will fail and that is exactly the situation facing the Igbo now.
What is the possibility of the APC taking over Anambra State in 2021?
Why I can easily predict that and confidently tell you that the APC will take over Anambra is based on the indices on ground and on our performance in the last governorship election. More importantly, the APC government has kept practically all the promises made as a political party against the promises made by the PDP that was not kept for 16 years.
The average Anambra man is interested in the second Niger Bridge, we heard stories for 16 years until President Buhari came to the office and we are now talking about completion date of the bridge because work is going on even as we speak now. The Enugu Onitsha expressway is another one and work is also going on.
It is the same as Enugu Port Harcourt road. You can easily and comfortably drive on those roads now. These are key projects that will impact positively in the South East, particularly Anambra State. When the campaign starts, we are going to present our report card to our people.
We will itemise those things we promised and delivered even when we don’t have state government, let alone when we have it. Imagine a scenario we have the state government connected to the centre, we are going to get more. The good thing is that our people are wise enough to understand that we are telling them the truth.
That is why I am very confident about APC winning the Anambra election next year considering the facts available. I will boldly claim that there will not be challenges that may affect APC winning Anambra State especially as other political parties are wishing the same. But I strongly believe that by taking our report card of the things we have done as the basis of our campaign, our people will listen to us.
What is your take on Senator Abaribe’s call for President Buhari to resign?
Was such call for Mr President to resign fair? We must ask ourselves whether the call is fair because what has he not done. Let us look at it from the perspective of where we were when he took over the mantle of leadership. People are quick to forget that a good number of our Local Government Areas are under the control of the Boko Haram insurgents with their flags flying.
Yes, I cannot boldly claim that there are no more security challenges but the good thing is that every effort is made to address it. The morale of our soldiers and police is very high now. Several equipment are provided now with more still expected.
We need to get more personnel, keep encouraging and thanking the Nigeria armed forces for the roles they have played. We should live up to our responsibility as citizens to share information and play certain roles within our local communities.
We must encourage local policing and information sharing among other things we have to use to encourage security personnel because they are not spirits but only human beings. Time is now for us to stop politicising every issue. We cannot continue to play politics with sensitive issues like security. How can somebody call for the resignation of Mr President? For me it does not make sense.
What is your take on APC capturing one state in the South East?
I hate it when people use the word capture to describe the Supreme Court judgement on Imo State governorship election. I am not a lawyer but I know that the facts are there to justify the ruling at the Supreme Court. I am very much excited just like every member of the APC family because the judgement has practically turned the table in the South East.
We are encouraged by the fact that APC has presence in the South East now. The good thing is that the PDP has returned to court again and I see it as a freedom to exercise their fundamental human rights. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing to worry about because it will be an exercise in futility.
I appreciate their frustration and it is understandable. Being in government for just seven months and all of a sudden, the Supreme Court asked the party to go because it was not qualified to be there. This judgement is enough to frustrate and sadden anybody but whether it will change the situation, I wish them good luck.
I laugh when people claim that the judgement was not palatable to most Igbo people because the Igbo people that are not happy with the judgement are members of the PDP. For those of us in the APC, nothing would have been more exciting than the judgement. We have just reclaimed what was denied us.