From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Having been in the corridors of political party administration, the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu, is eminently qualified for any elective position both at the state and national levels.
Speaking to Sunday Sun in Abuja, on his ambition to occupy the soon-to-vacant Anambra State Government House, he sounded confidently that he is the rightful person to wear the fitting the cap.
He also claimed that by every imagination, he is a big fish in Anambra politics to entertain any fear from other aspirants, assuring that he will not fail or betray the confidence Anambra people reposed in him.
He also spoke on the chances of the Igbo ahead in the 2023 presidential election, advising that they should approach it from the angles of picking both the APC and PDP tickets.
What is your impression about the ongoing APC membership and revalidation exercise across the entire country?
I will say it has been so far so good. It has attracted lots of interest and people are showing it in every part of the country. However, I would have preferred or wished that the registration and revalidation is by biometrics. I feel this way because biometrics registration has lots of advantages, especially as it will go extra length to confirm the credibility of the process and the membership register. However, I will say that those in the national leadership position know why they opted for this method, but ordinarily, I would have wished we had adopted biometrics in the exercise.
Did the initial hostility from party chieftains against the exercise come to you as a surprise?
One thing you should understand is that everybody is entitled to his perception towards the process. But for me, as a loyal party member, the most interesting thing is that despite expressing those reservations, those our party leaders still got their membership revalidated. It goes to show that they are credible loyal members of our party. It could be likened to the reservations I expressed that I would have wanted biometric registration, but it was not forthcoming, I still went ahead to revalidate my membership. In a nutshell, such reactions from our party leaders and chieftains are expected.
What is your view on the dilemma of APC on the serious agitation for the Southeast to produce the next president?
It is also important for us to know that power is not given but taken. The president of Igbo extraction means that far down Kastina, Yenagoa, Calabar, Lagos etc, they all have a stake in the person who wants to be president because democracy is about numbers. It is incumbent on us now, the South Easterners, to think out of the box, build bridges and rebuild broken ones, make friends because every election has two stages, primary and main election. We need to see to what extent we are in control of the party structures because you and I know that as of today only two parties are in existence, the APC and PDP. If that is true, to what extent are we working hard to influence party’s structures because there is no provision for independent candidates? Therefore, we need to work very hard as a people. We need to unite ourselves. We need to understand in all honesty that we have the confidence of all for the role they will play of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. He has to be elected by Nigerians. It is not about the Igbo alone electing the president; it would have been a lot easier if Igbo are electing their president. Wherever we are we all come home and elect our president. We are looking for the president of Nigeria, but of Igbo extraction. We need to get the buy-in of everybody. We need to win the confidence of everybody. It is not a responsibility for one person. It is our responsibility to the people. We must unite ourselves. Those in the party should work very hard to win the confidence of the people so that the ticket will be given to an Igbo son or daughter. Let those in PDP work hard and those in APC do the same so that they can give the ticket to Igbo son or daughter. When that happens and by tomorrow the candidate of APC is Igbo and the candidate of PDP is Igbo, it becomes a case of head or tail. These things are possible but, it is a case of how are we prepared for the election to pursue that agenda. It is doable.
With two governors in the Southeast, do you think the APC has made incursion into the zone?
APC has become an already established party with membership across the country, including the Southeast. For every living thing, there is a growth process. Sometime past, APC has no governor in the zone, at another we have one governor, and today we have two governors. By the grace of God, it will increase to three governors by November after the Anambra election. APC is a growth process, it will continue to grow. What we need to do is to justify the confidence of the people by doing what is right and meeting up with their expectations.
Do you think the zone has joined the mainstream APC to deserve presidential ticket?
Of course yes. With the level of consciousness, it points to the direction of our determination to take the platform. There are two stages to every election – the primary and main election. As we know in this country, only two political parties, the APC and PDP, are capable of presenting formidable candidates with the likelihood of winning presidential election in Nigeria. For us in the APC, just like any other political party, we will contest for the ticket and for us to do that, bridges must be built and contacts made so that as we keep expanding our friendships, handshakes across and enlarging our coasts, it will provide us the opportunity to look for president of Nigeria from Igbo extraction. We should not forget that the man in Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Osun, Calabar, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, the Southeast states and others across the country all have stakes. We need to work hard to secure the confidence of these people and make them trust us.
What is giving you the confidence that the North will allow an Igbo to fly the flag of the APC?
What is wrong with giving an Igbo man the ticket of the party if I may ask? It is possible, but like I said, the Igbo must work towards it and convince people. There are some critical northerners that are opposed to the Southeast president, but it has to do with democracy. It behoves on us, the Igbo to move out to convince our brothers and sisters in the North, West, South and East that it is the turn of the Southeast. And once we can convince them, they will now be part of the agenda.
Are Igbs even united enough to fight for a common goal?
It depends on what you call unity because I know that interest can unite. One thing you must always have in mind is that we are talking about human beings with different interests and ambitions that must clash. For instance, we are about nine that have indicated interest in running for the governorship of Anambra State and what that means is clash of nine interests and ambitions. However, if we are able to do some negotiations and horse-trading that will result in some people dropping, it is fine. There is certainly going to be a clash in the pursuit of Igbo presidency, but when we now consider what the interest of the Igbo nation is, then, the interest will be the uniting force.
Why are you trying to step out of NIWA to contest Anambra governor?
My desire to serve as governor of Anambra State is not a new thing. I am sure you know that I ran for the governorship seat in 2003. It is only because of the desire to change the narrative. I believe very strongly that I have the capacity, ability, and determination to change the story of my state. I want to play an active role in getting the state back to where it should be. I believe that lots of things have not been done right. I believe there are better alternatives. Better ways to do things to change the story. As we get along, when I will unfold my manifesto, people will understand the driving force. However, principally, there is a desire and determination to serve our people at the level of the governor. That is without prejudice to the fact that I have a responsibility now which I am doing my best to justify the confidence of Mr. President who appointed me, my ministers who nominated me, my family that has confidence in me and my friends who expect much from me. Even before I become NIWA MD, by the grace of Mr. President, I was chairman of a board of federal parastatal, National Communication Satellite, NICOMSTAT. I had served at the state level as chairman, the state board of executive. That goes to show, without sounding immodest, that I will do the best I can to justify the confidence trust on my shoulder.
Are you convinced that the APC Caretaker Committee will give Anambra credible election?
You are trying to turn me into a native doctor. I have confidence in the party leadership because otherwise, we won’t accept it. We need to give them all the supports and encouragement to ensure they do what is right. They have said it time and time again that they are going to do what is right. It behoves on us to pray for them, support and encourage them to do that which they have promised. It won’t be fair to prejudge them on whether they are going to deliver or not. We are praying for them.
What are the chances of APC in Anambra
APC as you know is a national party. There is a new reawakening across the country, particularly in the Southeast. But, the fundamental point is not necessarily about the old narratives. It is about the new consciousness. I keep telling people that we are going into the election with our report cards. We are going to present what APC has been able to do in the Southeast and Anambra. We are going to put it side by side with what others have done. Again, we also have to put the credibility, character, capacity, and ability of whoever is going to fly the flag of the party into consideration. That is why it is important that the party takes into cognizance the experience, exposure, capacity, and ability of the contestant that can win election without baggage. We have very great personalities. Our people are not satisfied with the governance of the state today. It is like, having married this man for some time, let us try this other husband. PDP has ruled our state, APGA has ruled our state, why don’t we then try APC to see whether the narrative will change. Let us see the differences so that we can do enormous comparative analysis. As for whether we have the chance, I can tell you, without sounding immodest, that it is our best chance.
What about the issue of zoning in the state?
Truth be told, there is no place an agreement was reached in terms of everybody sitting down to sign a document that it must be zoned to the South. Truth also be told that for justice and fairness, Anambra South should benefit. Moreover, if you look at the narrative of key players like the traditional rulers, critical stakeholders, they will tell you that for things to work properly the right thing to do is to zone the position of the governorship seat to Anambra South. This is without prejudice to the fact that every street in Anambra State has the capacity to generate a complete cabinet. I can tell you that we are well-schooled. You can have the kind of person you want in all the three senatorial zones of the state. But, for equity and fairness, the tide favours the South. That is why everybody appears to be singing the song that this time around, the ticket should be in the South.
The race will be that of billionaires, are you one?
I don’t know whether among the criteria for election now is to be a billionaire. I also know that there is no column to indicate that aspirants should attach a bank account in their interest forms. What I can tell you is that I am comfortable by the grace of God. It is not about now. I am a contented person. I know contentment is great riches which gives a lot of peace of mind.
Who is bankrolling you among Anambra political godfathers?
God and the people are my godfathers. If you check my political history and trajectory, you can’t find any of such godfathers. But, I respect leaders. There are influential leaders who have opinions and it will be unfair to ignore them. You will also find it necessary to convince them to see your vision from the same prism if they are convinced they will do everything within human capacity to see that you succeed. Nobody can come out today and claim he is my godfather. God is my Godfather and everybody knows that in my politics. I respect people, I honour them even the people you consider poor.
What is your take on the insinuations that you are not in alignment with any of the power blocs?
What do they mean by aligning with any of the power blocs? As far as I am concerned, I don’t believe in party factionalisation. It has never been in my character and if there is anything I have going for me today, it is my steadfast, trustworthy and focused in addition to the fact that my commitment is never in doubt. Once I believe in something, I follow it to its logical conclusion. I have a track record to show for it. I don’t believe in aligning with any group or party factionalisation.
Will you accept the emergence of the party candidate through a consensus arrangement?
What do you mean by consensus arrangement and what are the criteria for the emergence of a consensus candidate? If there must be such an arrangement, we have to agree on the criteria and put the rules down and if we see the honesty of the intention and sincerity of the purpose, then it could be considered.
In which areas have the APGA government failed that you are vying to win and correct?
There are quite a lot that have not been done right which need to be corrected. As I always say, you can only give what you have. Having done their best which is not enough, they should now give us the opportunity to provide an alternative. I have a personal policy not to criticise government policies without offering alternative solutions. The education policy in Anambra is not satisfactory to me, infrastructural policy, health policy and others are not satisfactory to me. I have alternatives which I will present in the form of my vision or my new Anambra when the time comes. I strongly believe that I can change things.
What do you tell your supporters and those expressing fears that the Anambra election will be bloody?
What I want to tell them is that my ambition is not worth the pint of anybody’s blood. I don’t want anybody to fight for me for power that comes from God. It is not worth it because all things work for good for those that trust him. My confidence is in God and good people of Anambra State. The assurance I want to give Anambra people is that I will not fail them. I want to be judged by what I say and that I will not betray the confidence they have for me.
Over 11 contestants are vying for the position, can you step down in the primary for anybody?
I don’t think so, but I have always said that I don’t lose sight of the fact that power belongs to God and He gives it to whoever He pleases at His own time. Let me repeat that my ambition is driven by the power of God concerning me and the wish of the Anambra people. If I have done well with NIWA, as many have testified, the best way to pay good performance, achievement and loyalty is reward and more responsibility. The issue of stepping down does not even arise. I wonder who will look at me and ask me to step down. My decision to run for office was taken in my closet, how can anyone come out and say I should step down. Such will not even arise, I can assure you.
Will Anambra people trust APC?
Why will they not trust APC when the facts are on the ground? I will just use one example. In 16 years they were flagging off the Niger Bridge. Every four years they flag it off and after flagging it off they dismantle the canopies and the story ended there until Buhari came into office and we are talking of the completion date. Is that not enough story to tell? Let me also draw your attention to the fact that there was a time in this country that an Igbo son was Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker. An Igbo was chairman of the Senate committee on works. An Igbo son was committee chairman on works. An Igboman was Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Igbo daughter was Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy. Yet no one kilometre road was tarred in the Southeast states. Enugu to Onitsha collapsed completely. But, today work is ongoing. That is why I said we are going to go to the election with our report cards. If we have refused to sing our songs, we are going to sing them during the election. If you are the only one licking this soup and you say it is very sweet, the only way I will agree that the soup is sweet is when you lick and allow me to lick. Then when I lick I will say I agree with you that it is sweet.