Despite the threat by the Indigenous People of Biafra that governorship election will not hold in Anambra, the All Progressives Congress’ National Auditor and aspirant for the state’s governorship post, George Muoghalu is confident that the election will hold as scheduled. He spoke to a few journalists in Abuja. Onyebuchi Ezigbo was there and presents the excerpts:
Why do you want to join the race for the Awka Government House?
I am seeking to be governor because I am confident that I have something to offer. I have been into this terrain once. I ran for the governorship position in 2003 under ANPP. I am one of those who believe strongly that power belongs to God and he gives it as he pleases at his own time. For me, it is not a matter of do or die nor life and death. I made a strong attempt, I had a good show despite all the challenges I came out stronger. I hope all of you know what happened in Anambra state in 2003, for me, I allow the history of the past but have learnt more lessons, I have gathered the experience of the past and I have made myself available again to serve my people. I am confident that I have something to offer and with all conviction by the grace of God if I have the opportunity, I will justify the confidence reposed in me by my people.
In specific terms, can you tell us what you want to fix in Anambra if elected governor.
I try to use an analogy to explain the situation in Anambra state. When you come into a vacuum very dark, if you come in with a candle, there will be light if you bring in a bulb, there will be an improvement on the candle light; if you bring in flood light, you have created a brighter atmosphere that looks like the day light, that is exactly the situation in Anambra. From what some people see, it is a candle light because I believe that Anambra has far more potentials. We need to create an enable environment for our sectors, build on our potentials and try to change the narratives. For me there is quite a lot to be done in Anambra state in terms of governance, infrastructural development, expanding our agricultural base to address our basement issues. There are issues that have to do with the power sector, industrial base, development of our infrastructure and our agriculture even education. We must have to look at education very critically because of much emphasis on certificates today; people obtain certificates which they cannot defend. We must change the narratives; we must change the education curricular, we must target a situation where people will have the capacity to employ people that are not employable.
Our infrastructure is totally decayed, never mind what you see on the television, there are quite a lot to be done. Anambra, in a very short while, should be the point where every state will look unto because of our capacity, our untapped potentials.
From what happened in Osun state, for every election, apart from the party, each candidate presented has a role to play in every election. For APC as a party, we are acceptable in the state. When you are looking at APC as a political party, you look at the individuals that represents the party. For me, I know I have a credible record that Anambra people can trust. They see me as a credible politician. One who is consistent, who will say something and stand by it, and whenever I enter into anything, I do everything humanly possible to keep to those things which I stand for. It is about the person and not the party. When you join the credibility of the person and that of the party, then you have a candidate that can be liked by the people but if you choose the wrong candidate, you will have yourself to blame but when you pick the right candidate, you stand a better chance.
On Agriculture, there is no way we can continue depending on the federal allocation, it does not make political sense and not even economic sense. Nigeria today depends on one commodity controlled by external forces. We do not determine the price of oil. If the external forces force down the price of oil, it affects our economy and if everyone is dependent on oil as its source of revenue for the state, this idea of rushing to Abuja at every month end does not make sense.
Take the case of rice, a stable food: Anambra has the potential to grow rice to feed, I will not say the whole nation, but to make a reasonable impact. We need to expand that base. We need to talk not only about production but how we can export our rice. To do this, we must try to industrialize. We must introduce a commodity market so that we can encourage local market production. We need to get the private sector involved. We must create an enabling environment for the private sector to come in. To do this, we must address some basic issues; infrastructure and the cost of capital. These are the areas that the government has a strong role to play in order to generate foreign exchange from rice production. We must create an environment that will employ our young graduates. I think that agriculture is the way to go.
The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra is calling for secession and that the election will not hold, are you not worried by this development?
I think the issue has been addressed by the position taken by Ohaneze N’digbo. What message are we sending by this agitation? For me there will be election and Ohaneze N’digbo and other stake holders have come out to say election must hold in the south-east and we are going to implement that. I am sure the federal government has the capacity to organise the election and will protect lives and properties in the state.
The APC has set up a committee on the Anambra state election, can you tell us more about that and the issue of zoning in the state?
The APC South-east leadership set up that committee to look at how to run the Anambra State election and to interface with all the aspirants with a view to making sure that we have a common position and understanding and that it is not a do or die affair and to maintain a relationship that is beyond election. So far, so good, we have met with them and others have been invited; we also met together and I think they are sincere and are committed. They all wish that we will win the Anambra election and they took the assignment given to them as a serious one. I wish them well and I want to assure everyone that with every support required, the committee will succeed in its assignment.
The issue of zoning, we have tried to address this issue many years. First Anambra State leadership has never liked zoning in the state. I have been around the political scene for a while and I understand the nuances in the state. Somebody asked me this question, does the north have to do two terms? I said why? Did the south do two terms? Mbadinuju did one term and he is from the south. After four years, he was not allowed to do second term and the position was given to our brother and leader in the state, Senator Chris Ngige. Thereafter from Ngige to Peter Obi; between Ngige and Peter Obi, they did almost twelve years and it left the central now to the north. By November 18th, the north must have done four years. If you must talk about equity, justices and fairness, it should return back to the south for them to complete their term after which it can go back to the north. You know you cannot shift the goal post at the middle of the game. If we must talk about zoning we should have started from day one and the south should have been compensated by allowing them to finish their eight years. Since the south was not allowed to finish its eight years and it comes to the north, by November 18th, it will come to the same level with the south and if that is the case, it is either the south or the north and if it has to be taken in terms of first come, first serve, it should go to the south before the north. That brings it to the fact that we never had any zonal agreement in Anambra state but I have no problem with it. That we start it, we have to start it, and we have to do it with equity, fairness and justices. By the time we finish this election, I am sure this issue of zoning will be finally resolved and at that point, we will now hold a meeting to agree to adopt zoning as a principle, to me I see nothing wrong in that.
On the issue of other aspirants, I am not aware that senator Chris Ngige is contesting the position because he has not told us; I am not aware. Elections are not about you and I, it is about the people of Anambra State. It is also about the individual and his capacity, his credibility and character and his ability to serve. These are the things that should concern us. If you talk about war- chest, I don’t know which one. One thing I know is that, if I am not ready for this election, I will not come to run. That is the truth; I cannot start what I cannot complete. I value my name and integrity so much and I do not gamble with it. It is the Anambra people who will decide who will rule them at the appropriate time. They will speak at the primary and the general election.
What is your position on Igbo Presidency?
On the issue of Igbo presidency, Why not? By the time the presidency leaves the north after eight years, it will be clear that every zone in this country has produced the president of Nigeria except the South-east. That is what we leaders from the South-east should be working towards. For us to achieve that, we need to talk to the northerners, southerners and every Nigerian to see it from our perspective, then it will be easy for us. We can not be talking of producing an Igbo president and secession at the same time. I don’t think it makes any political sense. The two are two straight lines that can never meet.
Aren’t you worry about the power of incumbency in Anambra?
Incumbency has been demystified; I don’t think we should be talking about incumbency anymore because it was sufficiently demystified in Ekiti, in Ondo, and the country where an incumbent president lost election. Why do you think the incumbent in Anambra will be an exception? It’s about the candidate, it’s about the message. We are through with incumbency. We are going to the field, come to the field and set your report card, if Anambra people think that you have done well they will continue with you, if they are dissatisfied with you, they will stop you.
We can not be talking of producing an Igbo president and secession at the same time. I don’t think it makes any political sense. The two are two straight lines that can never meet.