•Anambra ready to vote out APGA
From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief George Muoghalu, has advised Nigerians expecting a very peaceful and harmonious relationship among the members of the party in the year 2017 to perish the thought.
Muoghalu who is the National Auditor of the party gave the warning while fielding questions from Daily Sun in Abuja. He argued strongly that since the party is a human element, it is practically impossible to avoid misunderstanding and crisis, contending however that the party deserves resounding applause in the manners it managed the myriad of crises witnessed in 2016.
He spoke on a wide range of issues bordering on the party, economy, achievements and challenges that confronted the APC government and the magic wand of the 2017 Annual Budget to turn around the situation in the country.
Assessment of APC in 2016
The party has done reasonably well in the light of the challenges we found ourselves but we also know that there is still room for improvement and we are trusting God that the year 2017 will be far much better.
As we have repeatedly said, we took for granted the opportunities we had as a nation. The past administration did not think that we are going to have tough times ahead. Despite the warnings from institutions like the World Bank, we have no savings even when we made lots of money from sale of crude oil.
We had issue of security challenges, issues of militancy in the Niger Delta; however, despite all these challenges, the government of APC is still moving forward with the commitment to fulfil all the promises made with the manifest determination under the leadership of the man we all know and we can vouch for his integrity, commitment and love for the country.
So, those challenges will always be there since it is part of life, but the most important thing is that efforts are being made to do what is supposed to be done and do what is right to handle them.
Nigerians may not know that so much have been done but when there was serious damage as we found ourselves, it takes longer time to fix them. When you are confronted with a nation in near collapse, it takes total rebuilding of the entire structure from the foundation to be strong enough to build a solid super structure.
Yes, we are in recession today, but there is determination by the government of APC to put things in order. Mr President has assured that with the implementation of the 2017 budget, recession will be a thing of the past.
Getting a nation on the brinks of collapse back to its feet and putting it on the right track is a continuous process and not a quick fix kind of scenario. It is one that has to take a little time and that is what the APC government is doing now.
As we speak, this government is not up to two years and any honest assessor should be kind to say that government and the country are on course despite the challenges. It may be gradual but the satisfaction is that the country is focused on the predetermined destination.
Agreed, Nigerians are suffering, we are very much aware of it, but the truth is that things are happening, even though not at the speed we all anticipate, because it is not a quick fix scenario. We all know the challenges we faced in the 2016 Budget. By the time it was eventually passed, almost half of the year was gone.
There was practically no way the budget will be implemented 100 per cent since budgeting has to do with time limit and not buying and selling. Constructing of roads has time provision, building power station has time frame and they are situations we cannot avoid.
Without holding brief for the government, I want to believe that the reason we are starting the process of the 2017 budget was to overcome these challenges. The process of passing the budget has started early and I am sure that government is cautious of this situation. They are bent on avoiding the pitfalls we found ourselves in 2016.
What is your take on the crisis in APC
What I always want people to understand is that APC is a human organisation and as such the element of interest must be accommodated. The moment different interests don’t agree, tempers must certainly rise but that does not mean that there are crises in the party. In every human organisation, people disagree to agree and it is the process of disagreement that separates group A from group B.
The management of crisis is what differentiates APC from others and that is where the party deserves credit. As for disagreements, it must certainly come since we are talking about human elements not robots but it boils down to management of the crisis.
In every consideration, I have to give APC pass mark in the management, but as a human organisation, more crisis will certainly come even in 2017 because interests will still clash.
The trust of APC achievements in 2016
Above every other thing, APC ran a stable government very much committed to fulfilling all what we have in our party manifesto. We have been able to address the issue of insecurity in the North East geo-political zone.
We have been able to tackle corruption which is one of the biggest challenges facing the country. Don’t also forget that the issue of the economy is receiving adequate attention.
Within the year, we have been able to identify some of the problems affecting us as a country and in addressing them, we know that things will be tough. That is why government put several palliative measures in place to cushion them.
We have the school-cooking programme, the e-power employment programme, the 500,000 teachers, Civil Service and police employment programmes are still on course.
How do you relate the achievements with the fact that Nigerians are suffering?
Even Mr President acknowledged that Nigerians are suffering. It is so because we understand that we are not where we should be as a nation due to the mistakes of the past which no one can place as blame on the table of this government.
I want to assure Nigerians that this government is determined to tackle the problems by correcting those mistakes of the past. If I may ask, where is our savings as a nation that throughout the time oil was selling over $100pb, we have no savings.
The World Bank warned of the situation we found ourselves today, yet past government did not save. What investment did we make in infrastructural development? Using South East where I come from as an example, not one federal road was done in the past 16 years.
There was no effort to address even one power station for the past 16 years. These are indices to tell you that we have been suffering under bad leadership. For a leader to own up that he appreciates the fact that people are suffering and roll out palliatives, he deserves commendations.
We have a government cautious of the challenges ahead of it and the difficulties Nigerians are going through. The confidence and conviction is that Mr President has assured that with the implementation of the 2017 Annual Budget, the issue of recession will be a thing of the past and I believe him.
Why did it take the APC national leadership long to strike a chord with the National Assembly caucus?
There was no disagreement between the party and the National Assembly caucus in the first place. It has to do with approach. The speculations that the recently organised parley between the National Assembly APC caucus and the national leadership of the party was to smoothen what many tagged frosty relationships between them was false.
Don’t forget that we have channel of communication between APC leadership and principal officers of the National Assembly. It is not every meeting between them that would be in the public domain. I won’t accept that there was crisis between the two bodies.
What is your take on the allegation against the SGF by the Senate?
As I always say, differences and disagreements are not out of place. If anyone has accusation against anybody, the person must be given opportunity of fair hearing to defend himself.
Secondly, we must ensure that every accusation can be substantiated and that is why Mr President has directed the office of the Attorney-General to investigate the allegations. I am sure that if it were other people, they would try to do a cover-up or call it a family affair. It is not so with Mr President.
The SGF said that the allegations are not true; we must give him the opportunity to defend himself. Ibrahim Magu should also be given the opportunity to defend himself. All I want to say is that APC is still a very decent party made up of honest bunch of people.
However, that does not mean that if anybody has any accusation against me that he cannot raise it. The onus lies on you accusing me to prove it beyond doubt while I should be given opportunity to defend myself.
I don’t know the role Nigerians expect the party to play in this issue of accusation? Since we are not privy to the accusation, do you want APC as a party to write to the National Assembly to stop them from doing it or write to the SGF not to appear to defend himself or tell Mr President not to get involved.
How do you see the role APC as a party is playing in the government?
As a party, our role in the current government is purely advisory. Let me however say that there is a synergy between the government and the party. There is also a channel of communication between the government and the party.
The government has a manifesto which the party produced. President Buhari, as Presidential candidate of the APC, campaigned on three key points of security, anti-corruption and the economy. He anchored his campaign based on APC party manifesto and we are currently implementing that manifesto. By the time we are done, things will be better.
Did the recession take the APC government unawares?
The reality on ground today is not about lack of economic blueprint or recession taking the party unawares, but because recession, which has been on before now only manifested now. As I said earlier, we did not utilise the opportunity we had as a nation to do great things before letting it slip out of our hands.
There was no effort to diversify the economy from a mono product. By the time this product was hot in the market and made money, we did not address our infrastructural challenges.
We did not even address the issue of security to create environmental stability for industries to grow and for businesses to thrive. We did not also have any savings to fall back on. These three indices were not there.
Government is doing what it is expected to do because the country was at a near collapse situation. The good news is that desperate efforts are made to rescue the country. That is why we are talking about our budget and the palliative measures. There is massive investment in infrastructure and in rails, road and power infrastructure.
Take a look at the recently presented budget and you will find where the emphasis of government is. Government is diversifying, looking into agriculture and solid minerals as alternative source of income. We want to reduce the emphasis on oil since the inconsistency in the international market is affecting our planning.
Do you share the view that the formation of a mega party is a threat to APC?
As far as I am concerned, it is just rumour. Fortunately, I was part of the ANPP and should know if the defunct party is part of such new arrangement as speculated. I want to tell you that I am not aware.
What are the APC’s chances in Anambra governorship election?
We are certainly going to win the election because we are going to present a strong and credible candidate. We are going to present our manifesto and give our people the opportunity to be at the centre.
How do feel about your ambition clashing with the zoning arrangement in your state?
I want to first correct the issue of zoning. I come from the Anambra South Senatorial zone, which did only one term with Mbadinuju before it moved to the Anambra Central, which saw Dr Ngige doing three years while Peter Obi did eight years.
It moved to the Anambra North and by the time the North finishes their one term with Obiano, the North will be on the same pedestal with Anambra South. So the issue of doing one term or two terms between the two zones does not arise.
Putting the debate about zoning on one side, I want to ask one fundamental question of why is it that everybody wants to belong to the APC to run for election. Where were these people when we were called names like Boko Haram and castigated while building this political platform called APC? Are they not the same people who castigated us and called us all manners of derogatory names?
Everybody wants to join APC because Buhari has become President. The answer perhaps is a proof that we now have a good brand and an indication that the Igbo have accepted APC. If they are very popular and capable, why don’t they remain in their party and run election.
What is this clamour for APC now and why do people want to reap where they did not sow. Yes, it is true that APGA is on ground, but we are going to meet in the field for people to decide our fate. It is about the Anambra people taking decision through their votes.
What is your take on the desperation of the APC to win all elections?
What is working for the party is the involvement of Mr President in the campaign for his party as a true party man. Mr Vice President equally campaigned for his party. Before APC came to power, it has been the trend for Mr President to campaign for his party.
If they accuse us of using federal might, so be it and if they are crying foul over intimidation, were we not intimidated before? If the presence of Mr President is called intimidation, so be it.
The massive deployment of security agents was to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. I want it to be on record that no security agent was instructed to go and intimidate anybody. Those who feel intimidated are those with sinister intentions. It is only the guilty that is afraid.
What do you think is the APC performance scorecard?
I will give APC high score mark in the grade of B+.