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Monday, March 4, 2024

Moghalu: APC Can Unseat Soludo In 2025 [Interview]



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Chief George Moghalu is one of the founding fathers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Managing director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). In this interview with JIDE ORINTUNSIN, he speaks on the economy, the Abdullahi Ganduje-led National Working Committee (NWC) and the chances of the party in the 2025 governorship election in Anambra State

Why were you not among the stakeholders from your state that visited the National Working Committee last Wednesday? Is it that you have not been integrated fully or there are still issues to be sorted out?

Let me put some issues in the right perspective. The issue of integration you mentioned does not arise because you can only talk about integration for someone outside. I am a bonafide founding member of APC. So, it is an irony for a tenant to sack the landlord in his house. For me, the issue of integration does not arise. As a bonafide member of APC, and as a matter of my orientation, I am one of those who insist that things must be done properly. Due process must be followed, and an enabling environment created for things to work. I am a stickler for things being done properly. That is what I have always demanded. Before now, you asked me why I went to court and I said that it was because things were not properly done. You cannot ask us to participate in the primary, and then afterwards you sit back in the bedroom, write results, come out and announce it and expect me to accept such a result. I will be honourable enough to congratulate the winner if I lose in a free and fair contest. But, when you manipulate the process, I will tell you that it will not work. That was exactly what I did last time, and I will do it again if the need arises. However, if things are done properly, I don’t have any problem.

I am very excited about the people joining the APC but the party has no governorship candidate yet. So, by the time we get to the bridge, we will cross it. Our party is built on equity, justice, and fairness. When there is a need for us to look for a candidate, we will go to the primary and everything must be done properly. Whoever emerges through the primary becomes the party’s candidate. So, the issue of endorsement does not even arise. It must be a level-playing field. We are excited that people are joining our party. So, why was I not part of the stakeholders that visited the National Working Committee? This is because I was indisposed and I felt it wasn’t necessary to be there at that particular time

Can we then say you are still not comfortable with the happening at the party?

I am very comfortable because I have no reason now to doubt any action since you cannot read anybody’s mind and cannot challenge an action out of intent.

Recently Senator Ifeanyi Uba defected to the APC and when he was presented by Senate President to the party hierarchy and the leadership of the party in Anambra was trusted on him…

Nobody can do that.

But the national chairman declared him the new leader of the party in Anambra…

Things are not done that way; nobody can entrust the party leadership to anybody just like that. It is not possible because a leader evolves from among the people. You can elect the chairman, governor, and president, but a leader evolves among the people. It is the people that choose their leader. Leadership is a responsibility and spontaneous reaction from the people. You don’t declare somebody a leader.

Who is the leader of the APC in Anambra State currently?

We have leaders who control people by their actions and people relate to them based on their status as leaders. I am a leader in my own right and there are other leaders that are also respected. The party cannot impose anybody on us as the leader of the APC in Anambra State except they want to rock the boat. It is not in the party we built, and we are talking about justice, equity, and fairness. It has nothing to do with peace, but giving respect to who it is due. In order of hierarchy before this time, Chris Ngige came first in Anambra APC and I am next to him. We are the founders who built the party in Anambra. Time was when we were called a Boko Haram party.

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The APC Anambra has already begun the build-up for the 2025 governorship election. The party leadership believes Sen. Ifeanyi Uba can win Anambra for the APC. What do you think will likely play out?

You said that the party’s leadership believes that Senator Ifeanyi Ubah can win Anambra for the APC but I tell you that those days when elections are won in that manner are gone. Every interested person will throw his heart in the ring.  The party must create an enabling environment and a level playing field for every interested person.

Do you think Ganduje can provide a level-playing field for all interested aspirants?

You asked whether I think Ganduje can do that and my answer is that he has no choice. He is the national chairman of our party with the responsibility to create an enabling environment for the party to win the 2025 governorship election. The candidate we present will, to a reasonable extent, determine who wins the election. Don’t also forget that we have the incumbency factor to contend with. We must put our best foot forward.

Then what is the prospect of the APC taking over Anambra in 2025?

The prospects are very high. But it will only take a fool to ignore the power of incumbency. That is why the party must put its best foot forward by unifying the party’s stakeholders. They must create an enabling environment for the best person acceptable to the people to emerge. It will make the stakeholders rally around the candidate.

Apart from the incumbent fighting to retain his position, other parties are fighting to remove the incumbent. It is not a two-party affair. Apart from the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), there are other parties like the Labour Party (LP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) among others. Who told you that there may not be a coalition of parties to present a strong candidate? Everybody will come with their inherent advantage.

How feasible is Ganduje’s claim that the APC will soon take over the entire Southeast region?

Well, that is his wish and I believe that it is possible. The APC is already in control of two of the five states in the region. But it boils down to planning and doing the right thing. It is about creating an enabling environment. There was a time when the PDP was in charge of the entire Southeast. But, as we speak and as presently constituted, the APC is in control of Imo and Ebonyi; the APGA presides over affairs in Anambra, while Enugu and Abia are under the control of the PDP and the LP. Taking over the states require us to work very hard and encourage our governors in the two APC states to work hard and become models that would influence people in the other states to support our party. Above all, if we are not united in fighting the common cause, our time will be wasted again.

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Do you then have confidence in the current APC leadership?

Yes. There are some of my colleagues when I was the party’s national auditor are still there. I have confidence in the national chairman and the national secretary. I have confidence in the other leaders of the party too. So, I have no reason to doubt their confidence.

What do you tell Nigerians accusing the APC government of inflicting hardship on the masses?

I agree that things are not smooth but at the same time also I would rather say that the Tinubu administration is a victim of its speed. Because of its speed, some people are seeing this administration as if it is already one year old. But the administration is about six months old. It was quick in appointment of ministers; in making very strong decisions on the issue of fuel subsidies and the insecurity in the country. These are strong decisions that should be commended. But, unfortunately, the results have not started to manifest. So, I would rather appeal to our people, let us be a little more patient. Things are difficult, no doubt about it, but let us be a little more  patient and see to what extent we can keep supporting the government so that the actions it is taking can manifest and yield dividends.

Let’s look at your days in NIWA, what do you think you could have done better as the managing director of the agency?

I have no regrets about all the actions I took.  When I got the appointment, I gave myself a target, which was principally to change the narrative. Before I took over the agency, I did not know about NIWA. A lot of people did not know about NIWA too. If you recall, in my first interaction with you guys, I told you that NIWA was underreported and pleaded with you to help me to bring it to the forefront, which the media did and I must thank you for that. You guys brought NIWA out of obscurity. Today, the NIWA I left is not the NIWA I took over. So for me, that was quite remarkable and I am very grateful to God, my colleagues, my friends, and members of the media for the support I received.

After these achievements, did it come to you as a surprise that they didn’t renew your tenure?

Why would it come as a surprise?  The appointing authority is at liberty to do as it pleases. The authority appointed me to serve for four years with a proviso that it can be renewed; not will be renewed. So, renewal is a probability. So, if the appointing authority decides it wants to try somebody else, why not? It is not cast in iron. What of people who did not even finish their term? I finished my term; what you’re talking about is renewal.

How is life after office?

It depends on the attachment you place to the office. Life is about life; it is for the living. If you don’t allow the office to change who you are, then you will not notice the transition from being in office and being out of office. The only time you have a challenge is when you allow the office to control your being; to determine who you are; when you lose your friends, because you put yourself in a position and things like that, then that is when you have difficulty. But when you enter the office, believing that one day you will exit — maintain your friends, remain who you are and don’t allow the office to determine your person – you will not notice the difference by the time you leave the office.

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