George Moghalu, The Managing Director National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) leaves no one in doubt that he has come to change the image and generate new narrative on Nigeria vast Waterways Economy.
His stride in less than four months in office gives a graphic picture of how he wants to drive the business of water transportation in Nigeria through a rural people centric economy, a fully functional NIWA and a visible skyline on River Port as solution to the congestion of Nigerian Ports.
Like a tested General, Moghalu who was a former Auditor of the ruling party before he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, has generated feverish interest through the reactivation of “buried” policies on water transportation, creating close fringes and “war theaters” on all River banks located in Anambra, Port Harcourt, Bayelsa, Taraba, Lagos and across the twenty eight littoral States of Nigeria in order to have close watch over maritime activities.
His focus is to throw light on the National Maritime Transport policy and how the policy could be given vent to raise the bar in creating sustainable activities for social economic development for Nigeria. George Moghalu believes that thorough knowledge of the entire brown water economy in Nigeria must deepen the understanding of government strategic plan for the sector and also enthrone a National Marketing platform to engage investors to participate in Maritime projects to improve growth and competitiveness across board.
With an uncommon grit and passion, the NIWA MD who seems to have a date with history, does not pretend that NIWA is sufficiently gifted with the best budgetary allocation and manpower, a process to which he has quietly turned to an advantage to preach the gospel of brown water economy as the new oil. In Onitsha where he met with Maritime stakeholders, and waterfront communities, traditional rulers and youth organizations, Moghalu told the crowd who turned out to listen to his game changing strategy for Onitsha River Port, that time has come for Nigeria to fully exploit all the benefits of coastal trade through water transportation, hereby creating opportunities for cargo, passenger transport, fishing and water tourism.
His big dreams to transform and take NIWA to the next level seem to make him extremely restless as he stood on his feet for over two hours taking questions and providing answers from a positively agitated crowd which possibly has not seen any top government official in the mould of George Moghalu coming to their backyard to share Federal Government dreams on how to better the lots of traders, business men and communities located across the eastern frontier of the River Niger.
From Onitsha to Ogbaru, Umutie in Illah of Asaba in Delta state, Moghalu assured the rural communities that NIWA would build jetties, empower rural economic development and make the people have a sense of belonging as Nigerians who must be protected as equal partners in the development and marketing of brown water economy and transportation.
For the two days that I trailed him at close quarters, George Moghalu would never make any commitment to issues within domain of NIWA without a first-hand knowledge through on the spot assessment and valuation of projects sites and or requests from notable stakeholders and communities.
An orator, lover of culture, humble and accessible, George Moghalu however is easily irritated by sloppy presentations and frontal confrontation by those who challenge. NIWA mandate without recourse to law and obedience to cultural values. At Umutie, Moghalu Sat with the regent and chiefs of the community in a makeshift “Palace”, took off his suite and ate kolanut with the people, a clear show of love and respect to a NIWA host community where he again promised to transform their coastal trade by deploying NIWA water craft to drive the ease of doing business through the waterways.
Though he is yet to give a “shoot at sight” directive to illegal occupiers of waterfront facilities, unlicensed dredge, property speculators and developers and other exploiters of NIWA right of way, Moghalu however is generous with declaration of quit notice holidays to enable those who are yet to vacate NIWA locations and properties to do so, noting that he has not come to destroy but to build.
Significantly exciting is Moghalu’s open door policy to genuine investors and other critical stakeholders invited to take over the driver seat in transforming brown water economy particularly maritime transportation while government restrict itself to providing enabling environment and interventions that will flourish rural economies and create employment for the people.
Though it is still early in the day to celebrate this visionary leader of NIWA, I hope and pray that George Moghalu would strategically connect the booming business and creative people across the Niger through the River Port in Onitsha not excluding the manifestation of maritime recreation and tourism on the River Niger.