George Moghalu, a former National Auditor of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is currently the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). In this interview, he speaks on why he wants to become the next governor of Anambra State, 2023 Igbo presidency, why Baro Port is not yet operational, among other issues.
How was the experience like switching from your role as Auditor of the APC to heading NIWA?
Let me begin by thanking the president who based on the recommendation of my ministers appointed me as the MD of NIWA; providing me a platform to serve and the opportunity to contribute to national development.
Moving from the auditorship of the APC to MD of NIWA was actually nothing difficult because the truth about it is that there is a level you get to in management and everything is about the same; it is about taking decisions; it is about being responsible; it is about leading people.
You have been at NIWA for over a year now; what would you say have been your achievements so far?
If we are to be talking about achievements, we will spend quite a lot of time doing that. But let me say that when I was appointed the MD of NIWA, I took cognizance of one major challenge; and that was the fact that NIWA was under-reported. People didn’t know about NIWA; people didn’t know that we even existed and some people didn’t even know that we are under the Ministry of Transportation. We confronted that challenge and by the grace of God and with the support we have received from various media organisations, we have been able to move from obscurity to where we are today.
Another major challenge was the morale of staff. We needed to get the staff understand the vision I was coming with. We met with management; we went down to meet with the middle level management and even the lower cadre so that everybody could have a buy-in into where we want to take the agency to; and to God be the glory, today we have staff that are highly motivated.
I see these as major achievements; apart from the infrastructural developments; restructuring of the buildings and adding new offices to our head office complex; building new jetties in Lagos, Odekpe and a few others.
We are using our paraphernalia of government and the NIWA police to ensure that the protocols are observed even in this time of COVID-19. We have scaled down the percentage of passengers vessels can take at a given time; some of these are things that are being enforced. We have started our training school in Warri and we are going to start another one in Port Harcourt so that boat operators can be trained to ensure only qualified operators are seen on waters and so that we don’t create opportunities for people to go and waste the lives of Nigerians. We have done quite a lot but that is not to say we have solved all our problems in NIWA.
The Baro River Port has long been completed but there is no activity going on there; why?
You are correct; it was actually commissioned by Mr President. It is a world class port and is ready to go into full operation, but like you said, it has not started. And the reason that Baro Port has not been put into active use is principally because the access road to Baro is bad. But I’m happy to let you know that the federal government is doing something about it, and in addition, the Niger State Government has indicated interest to do one of the roads leading to Baro.
The APC appears not to be deeply rooted in the South East; what do think are the chances of the party in the forthcoming election in Anambra?
Not being deeply rooted is a false narrative that has been sold to the people. All these narratives will change because the forthcoming Anambra election and that of 2023 are an opportunity for us, members of the APC, to present our report card to the people for them to be in the position to make an honest assessment of who we are. An unbiased assessor will tell you that what has so far happened in the registration process of the APC is a pointer to where the APC will be in the next months.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has held sway in Anambra for over 16 years; do you think APC has the capacity to wrest power from it?
Why not! What does it take to wrest power? It is about presenting a credible candidate who has the knowledge and can deliver on promises made. Place him side by side with the fulfilled promises of APC, why can’t we wrest power. In my last but one interview, I said that Willie Obiano, the present governor, is going to be the last governor of APGA in Anambra State, and you will see what will happen in November. Anambrarians are determined to take their destiny in their hands. They want to be connected to the centre.
You have all along indicated interest in the governorship; why do you want to be governor?
I have said it time and time again that I am being propelled by the desire to serve. I’m being propelled by the commitment I made to my God to be a vessel to be used for the benefit of our people, because I know I have what it takes by the grace of God in terms of experience, knowledge, exposure and integrity to serve our people. I will make myself available, but like I have always said, power belongs to God and He gives to who he pleases at his own time using the people. I will only offer myself to the people. I present myself and ask them to make a decision.
If you are given the opportunity to serve as governor, what should the people expect?
Good governance; all-involving governance that will address the challenges of our people. But I will disappoint you by not releasing my manifesto now. But one thing I can tell you is that the APC’s manifesto as a party has taken into account the issues of infrastructural development, security, educational development and the issue of our health sector, and these can be properly done under the APC. The truth about it is that I am going to change the narrative if given the opportunity.
You are a big name in the APC, but some see you as more of ‘Abuja politician’ not rooted in state politics; how would you react to that?
At this time people are free to say anything because it is a matter of contest; everybody is trying to see to what extent you can run the other person down; which is also not my kind of politics. If you check my politics, I don’t discuss people; I discuss issues. I don’t want to spend my time talking about persons. I am a politician rooted in Anambra State, working today in Lokoja. It is when the voting will take place that you will know whether I am known in my area or not.
There are big wigs in the APC jostling to fly your party’s flag in the state; what do you think are your chances?
I have a bright chance. I don’t look at big names. I am happy that APC has big names. What is sure is that it is agreeable that the APC can produce the governor in the coming election, because I’m sure all these people who want to be governor using the APC platform may be seeing what I’m seeing. But as to whether I’m bothered about them, I’m not bothered because I know that loyalty has a reward and those who know me and have been in the trenches with us up to date know that loyalty has a reward, and if loyalty has a reward, I can lay claim to it.
What is your advice to the APC in terms of selecting its governorship flag bearer for Anambra?
Justice, equity and fairness allows you to fly high. It provides you the wings to fly high. The moment you cut off these three, you will come down, and that is life for you. Like I have always said, I have confidence in our party’s leadership. I trust them and I believe they will do what is right for the benefit of the party and the benefit of democracy. The utmost consideration should be the quality and ability of the candidate who is going to fly the party’s flag.
What is your take on Igbo presidency in 2023 and how should the South East go about it?
It is a justifiable ambition, but you and I know that power is not given; power is taken. I would like to correct this impression; we are looking for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, not an Igbo president. And for you to look for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, every other tribe has roles to play. So, it is incumbent on us the politicians and non- politicians to build bridges, extend handshakes across the Niger; reach out to our brothers and sisters in the North, East, West and South because they all have roles to play.
There is the allegation of marginalisation of the South East by the Buhari administration in terms of appointments and infrastructure; what is your take?
It is a wrong narrative; appointments in what sense? I don’t agree; I want empirical evidence. We have as much ministers as others have. We have key political appointees in office today. We have strategic appointments, so tell me why anybody should say that. The most important thing is that whoever is given responsibility should justify it by doing such duty well.
What would you say about the fulfillment of the promises President Buhari and the APC made to Nigerians in 2015?
I can tell you that we have met practically all the promises made and even gone further than that. That is not to say that we still don’t have challenges as a nation, because there are challenges that are coming up as every day goes by. For example, when the president was campaigning, he hinged his campaign on three promises: insecurity, economy and corruption.
In these three areas, he has done extremely well. We have not gotten to our destination, but he has put this country on the roadmap.