The Director General of National Inland Waterways and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Chief George Moghalu, in this interview says his decision to challenge the outcome of the Anambra governorship primary election in courr was to halt impunity. Excerpts from Adedayo Akinwale
You contested the primary of the APC Governorship primary in Anambra State and you have instituted a legal action against the outcome of the primary. What are the issues?
I refused to speak on this Anambra politics because the lawyers say when the issue is in the court, you don’t speak. It is sub judice. To that extent, I am in court and following the judicial process.
Are you not bothered that the party is compiling the names of people who have taken the party to court?
Why should I be worried? My being in court is not a hidden agenda. It is as public as anything. If they compile my name, so be it. I wish them the best of luck.
Has the party reached out to you?
No, the party has not reached out to me.
Even the presidency?
Yes. I have met with the Vice President and various leaders in their individual capacity, but the issue is private. They are not what I am supposed to be discussing in the media.
I think we are personalising the issue. We are making it look like it is just me. It is not about me but about the democratic institution. It is about doing what is right. It is about halting impunity. It is about the interest of the party in the state. It is about APC and democracy. It is not about George Moghalu. It should not be reduced to George Moghalu wanting to be governor. I keep saying that power belongs to God, He gives it to whoever he pleases at his own time and God’s will must be done. If God destinies that I will be Governor, I will be. If God says no. I will not be. These are things that are beyond us. It is not about me. Yes, he has visited me. And so what?
With this, don’t you think the party might feel you are pursuing anti-party ambition?
Well, I wish them luck. Everybody is free to think whatever they feel. I am seeking justice and not only me but for the entire APC so that things can be done properly. So, that we can enthrone decency and democratic norms. It is as simple as that. It is not about me.
The allegations against you are that you are not following the internal mechanism of resolving intra party issues.
What is the intra party mechanism? You have set up an appeal committee and I have appeared before it. What do they want?
Have you heard from the APC?
I have not heard from them. Even as we speak, I didn’t get the report of the appeal committee. I applied but I did not get it and don’t forget, I have a time frame within which if I don’t take my protest to court, I am out. So, it could be a ploy to get me to lose that opportunity.
Is there anything that can make you withdraw the case in court?
I think you are kind of pre-empting nature in this instance. Because what you are doing is to talk about morals when we are still living in today. Let us wait for tomorrow to come and we will deal with it. But the truth about it is that, as we speak, George Moghalu is in court in Abuja.
What it means is that if Mr. President or the Vice President calls you now, you won’t bother?
That is why I said they are trying to look at tomorrow when we are still living today. Let’s deal with today and wait for tomorrow to come.
How strong are the chances of your party in the state?
Anything I say certainly will be misunderstood and misconstrued. You must look at it from that perspective and give me the benefit of doubt because I am not in a good position now to analyse the party’s position. Anything I say which may be a reality may be misconstrued that somebody is not with the party and these are some of the challenges. You have to excuse me now because I am not in a good position to give an understandable situation report on the status of the party, because some might see it as true and some might not, depending on which side of the divide you are standing on.
That you are in court doesn’t mean you have abandoned APC?
I am an APC man. How can I abandon the party?
How much of the party’s activities are you following as a national officer? There were lots of crises in the congresses and so many things are happening.
I am worried like a lot of people are. I am a critical stakeholder. And I make bold to say it. Because I have laboured for the party. I played a role in the formation of the party. I have a stake. I am watching because for now, it has been reduced to an Anambra issue. It is a fight for Anambra. Don’t forget that I was a member of the merger committee that formed the party. I was elected the first National Auditor of the party and re-elected, before the President graciously appointed me into this position that made me leave the party leadership. I have been fully involved in the party and the process. I am worried about what I read in the papers with the reactions. So, my appeal is that we should not allow this party to implode.
What about the build-up to 2023?
I am worried because we are now playing God. Everybody is now talking about 2023 and we are still in 2021. Who discusses with God to give a guarantee that he is going to be alive? What is the guarantee? Why don’t we make use of the best opportunity that we have? Why don’t we do the best now for the people? Let us emphasize and limit ourselves to today in 2021. Why are we talking about 2023? Why the emphasis? And why the worry?
I have no problem with anybody having an ambition for 2023. But my appeal is that we should lay more emphasis on delivering the dividends of democracy now. Because we need to have a country that we aspire to lead in 2023. So, we need to build that political culture and get the people to understand and appreciate our challenge which is part of what we are doing. Building the democratic culture and encouraging our people. And, by the time we get to 2023, these problems will be resolved. God has a role to play in this business. But, we keep removing God from the scheme. It is only a living man who can aspire to positions. And only a healthy man can aspire to be anything. We have seen it happen before. It is not rocket science. We have seen people who have tried to plan what they are going to do next year and they did not live to see next year. It has happened before. So, why don’t we do our best now to justify the confidence the people have in us? And, that is what worries me. And you see, in a political setting and a party, the only time you have challenges, is when you want to cut corners. The rules are straight and if you follow the straight line, you won’t run into problems. But the moment you try to manipulate the process, you will get the answer you deserve. That is why we are having challenges and hiccups right, left, and centre.
Is the process wrong?
It is not right. How can it be right and we are having challenges across the state; we are having disagreements? If you provide a guideline, allow it to operate to the fullest and not minding whose ox is gored. You cannot bend the rules.
The zoning is tearing the party apart. What is your advice on this issue?
We must talk about it. Honestly, we must put the issue on the table and discuss it. We are talking about human beings and we are talking about interest. All this clashing left, right, and centre is about interests. We are dealing with human beings, not robots. So, we must come to the discussion table and the party as a platform should play the leadership role now and create the enabling environment for peace to reign. And no matter how bad the situation is, we must discuss it. Check the history, every war has always ended at the discussion table and not at the battleline. And the question I keep asking is, why do we have to get to war first before we negotiate? Why don’t we negotiate, discuss and settle to avoid that war? Do we have to come back after the destruction has taken place? And that is what baffles me as a leader. All of us are leaders in our various groups. It baffles me. Why do we have to quarrel before we discuss? Why don’t we discuss to avoid that quarrel? Because we are still going to discuss after or before the quarrel. To avoid the quarrel, we discuss first. We must talk about it. No matter how difficult it is, we must talk about it. Because if you keep postponing the day, a time will come there will not be a need again for postponement.
What is your take on the agitations that power must come to the South in 2023?
It is a political decision and they are entitled to it.
Don’t you think such a statement is inflammatory?
It depends on your perspective on it and where you are looking at it from.
And the north is born to rule?
It is not about being born to rule. We have heard that before. It still gets back to the point that we have to discuss it. Because it is people that will do the planning and the voting. It is the people that will lead.
How do you assess Buhari’s government?
The truth I have always said is that, whenever you want to assess a regime, don’t take it from the middle. Take it from the beginning. Look at it from the perspective of promises made and promises delivered. Using empirical evidence, I come from the South-east, the promises made to us are being delivered one after the other. And let me also emphasize so strongly that Nigeria as a nation is a work in progress. We have not reached our destination. Our desired destination. But everybody is working to achieve that destination barring all the challenges. There are projects that you can mention, legacy projects. For me, if he has one legacy project, I will credit this administration. It is a fact that the Second Niger Bridge is almost coming to completion. We were in this country between 1999 and 2015, there were four flags off for that same bridge. Before every election, you have the national flag off, the President comes to Onitsha and they put canopies to flag off and the president goes, and we pack away the canopies and the projects. Until Buhari came and made a commitment and started delivering. I throw a challenge that we, the elites of South-east are sitting on the center table. Let me remind you in case you have forgotten, as at the time under reference, the Secretary to the Federal Government was from the South-east. The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs was from the South-east. The Chairman House Committee on Works was from the South-east. The Chairman Senate committee on Works was from the South-east. The Deputy Senate President was from the Southeast. Deputy Speaker was from the South-east and not one kilometre of the road was tarred. And I dare to challenge anyone for 16 years, what were the legacies? I even forgot to mention the Minister of Aviation. She was from the South-east. They are all from the South-east. The same table where decisions were made when we would have put it in the budget and it would have been approved, financed and awarded? All from the South-east. But, today, work is going on the federal roads in the South-east. Enugu-Onitsha is under construction. Enugu-Port Harcourt is near completion, Aba-Ikot-Ekpene, Umahia-Ikot-Epene are under construction. These are critical and major roads in the South-east.
Why is your party wooing some PDP members and still going after them?
Supposing they are the ones wooing the party?
You have offered somebody your ticket.
Who did I offer?
One of the people you demonised
It is a problem. We have a problem. You don’t offer a ticket. It is not sold like a biscuit in the market. It is the people who will decide who will have their ticket. Getting a ticket is making you one among them. It is like a case of the party members agreeing to say, give Romanus this ticket so that we can follow him on the election. What that means is that we are putting our destiny under the care of Romanus. And, we will work as a team to deliver him. How do you deliver? It is by voting and campaigning and ensuring that your votes count. But when you sit back in Abuja and decide that it is Okeke in Niger-Delta that will fly the ticket, without the input of those who own the party, and those who own the party are the people. If you disrespect and disregard them, and you now bring an Okeke and impose him on them, then you will get the consequence.
The APC caretaker committee is like Buhari. There is a deep hatred for them. How will you assess them?
I will not assess them now because I have issues with them. it will not be fair to do that now. At the appropriate time, it will be done.
As at the time under reference, the Secretary to the Federal Government was from the South-east. The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs was from the South-east. The Chairman House Committee on Works was from the South-east. The Chairman Senate committee on Works was from the South-east. The Deputy Senate President was from the Southeast. Deputy Speaker was from the South-east and not one kilometre of the road was tarred. And I dare to challenge anyone for 16 years, what were the legacies? I even forgot to mention the Minister of Aviation. She was from the South-east. They are all from the South-east. The same table where decisions were made when we would have put it in the budget and it would have been approved, financed and awarded? All from the South-east. But, today, work is going on the federal roads in the South-east