Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Auditor, Dr. George Moghalu, has joined the debate on the perceived ill-treatment melted out on the South East geopolitical zone in the emergence of the 9th National Assembly principal officers, insisting that the zone did not play the right politics to get more than they got. He equally speaks on what to expect from President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘Next Level’ mantra, arguing that he would certainly deliver on all his campaign promises.
What secret did the party deploy to ensure the seamless emergence of the National Assembly principal officers?
What made the emergence of our leadership in the National Assembly rancour-free was as a result of wide consultations and mutual respect. The party consulted widely, the party reached out to many stakeholders as possible, taking into account the views of our leaders, the views of everybody and at the end of the day we got a peaceful exercise.
Why do you think Nigerians are still suspicious that the National Assembly will be a rubberstamp despite the assurance by the President of the Senate?
I don’t think that is so, that there is synergy between the legislature and the executive is not a guarantee that the National Assembly will be a rubberstamp. I think that is not actually the message the President of the Senate wanted to pass across. The important thing here is that if there is synergy between the legislature and executive, things work easier and better, we must understand that, but everybody also is expected to play their constitutional role. The National Assembly has their role clearly spelt out; the executive has its role. In a democracy the party has its role clearly spelt out, and the opposition also has its role clearly spelt out. So, I don’t think that will happen. But it is a matter of mutual respect, if you convince me about a position, if I go on with it, it does not mean that I am stupid or unintelligent, but I am convinced because there are empirical facts or evidence that made me convinced, but if I am not convinced I am not convinced.
Do you share the sentiment that the South East lost out in the election of National Assembly principal officers?
For me, it is not about bad losers, the important thing here is what role have we played. We have the expected numbers of legislators from the South East, but there is a mix here from both the opposition and the party in government. But we of the APC stock did not understandably play right politics, however that does not deny us what we are entitled to have.
We have positions in the National Assembly, but humans are selfish politically speaking. If you ask me my wish in this democracy, I will like the president, the vice president, President of the Senate and the Deputy President of the Senate to come from my local government, if possible from my town. That is the human being in everybody. However, it is not possible because the reality of the moment is that these positions have to be distributed so that it can balance power, and that is exactly what is going on now and that is why you have consultation.
Today, you have the President of the Senate from North East, the Deputy President of the Senate is from South South, Speaker is from South West, and the deputy is from North Central, otherwise they should have been from the same place. If it is about number now for example, the North West can take the resident, President of the Senate and Speaker. Kano alone has 24 House of Representatives members in our party. So, if it is a function of vote, North West alone has over 100 legislators. If it is about number, both the speaker, the deputy, President of the Senate, the deputy, will all come from North West where the president comes from. But since we understand that in a multi-party democracy, in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society like our own, we have to distribute these positions so that they can also translate to support for the party in future because elections is continuous, it was done that way. After 2019, 2023 is coming.
Why didn’t APC deemphasise, as you just explained, that it is not necessarily what you brought to the table but the future of the party?
That question is very simple and the answer is as simple as the question. The truth is that you have four presiding positions and you have six geo-political zones; there is no way two zones will not miss out as presiding officers. You have four presiding officers, President of the Senate, Deputy President of Senate, Speaker and Deputy Speaker. And if you look at it from the perspective you are going to, we have six geo-political zones, so, two zones must not get it.
So the issue of who gets it now becomes immaterial, we are doing a lot of political balancing to see that interest is covered. Inasmuch as we of the APC believe that we also of the South East did not play good politics, 2019 was however a far improvement to what happened in 2015. In 2015, we got 198,000 votes in the entire five states of South East, but this time around we are talking of over 400,000. So, what that means is that we are building new consciousness, people are getting more aware, people are getting more involved and I also believe strongly that by the time we go to 2023 the South East will do better.
Couldn’t the party have considered South East and North West House Leader and Senate Leader after other zones had taking the presiding officers?
You are talking about zoning, number is very critical, when you are looking at politics. If you are talking about House Leader for example, he must be somebody with the number to lead. Because you are leading human beings, you must accommodate it in your calculation, interest must be accommodated, and politics is about number, you can’t lose sight of that fact. There is quite a lot involved, the important thing is, am I there at that time.
One major issue people are talking about today is the ministerial list of your government, as a party leader are you not worried that your government has not been able to provide Nigerians the list of would-be ministers?
I will answer this question by throwing one. Has government stopped functioning? Since government has not stopped functioning and government is also conscious of the fact that ministers will be appointed, I don’t think we should make it a big issue. Recently, I read in the papers, the comment of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation that ministers will soon be appointed, I strongly believe him that ministers will soon be appointed. These are exclusive preserve of Mr. President. So I am confident that ministers will soon be appointed because there is no timeline now that he has breached constitutional provision, there is no where it is stated that he must appoint minister one or two weeks after swearing-in. He may be taking his time to get the right people.
The outcome of 2019 elections have shown that there is need for electoral reforms, now that the APC has control of the National Assembly, should we expect major electoral reforms before 2023 elections?
For me as a person, looking at the politics, we keep improving by the day, and we keep learning by the day. Our democracy, our electoral process is not the best you can get today, but we believe that it is on the road to improvement. After every election, we keep improving.So, it is incumbent on us to keep looking inwards with a view to improving on the process. If there is anything I constantly remember in all the speeches Mr. President have made, it is that he wants to bequeath a legacy of free, fair, credible elections by the time he leaves office.I think it is a good legacy to leave and for you to achieve that legacy there is need for a constant review of the process so that very soon we will be able to arrive at our desired destination.
What should Nigerians expect in the Buhari’s ‘Next Level’?
A lot is coming to us at the ‘Next Level’. The truth about it is that the government has a budget; the government is committed to delivering on its budget. In the course of the campaign, Mr. President made promises and we are committed to the campaign promises. As a nation, we should be grateful to God that we have a man who is very concern about what he says. Mr. President is not free with words and anytime he makes commitment he bends over backwards to deliver on those commitments. For me, that is all I need from my leader, that when he says ‘I am going to do something’ he will do it, not under compulsion, but he will be satisfied in doing it. That is what I expect of my leader. Not a situation where he will make promise but will not deliver, it doesn’t show leadership. Here we have a man who when he says something, he believes in it, he works on it and delivers on it.
When will the party get a new National Secretary?
We will get it very soon. Although I will not be able to give you a date as regards to that, however, there is a process because it is not by appointment but the constitutional right of a geographical area that it was zoned to, to produce the person.
Is the ruling party aware that Nigerians are suffering?
Nigerians have always suffered and enjoyed but it is about life and about working hard. I don’t really understand what you mean by suffering because we are not living in a separate world. We buy from the same market. We admit that there are challenges. We must thank God that he took over the time he did because Nigeria was at the point of collapse. Don’t forget that he took over when oil crashed totally and it was by the grace of God and sincere commitment of Mr. President that we managed to get ourselves out of situation we were then.
It was because of it that the Federal Government came up with the idea of Social Investment Programme by way of school feeding, recruiting teachers and Tradermoni among others. They are palliatives to help cushion the effects of the challenges we are facing. We will set this country on the path of growth and development. To achieve these, sacrifices must be made.