‘Buhari Will Ensure  Credible Elections’

George Moghalu

Chief George Moghalu is the National Auditor  of the  All  Progressives Congress (APC). He recently addressed journalists in Abuja ,  including Udora Orizu, on many national issues, including the seeming crisis in his party , arising from the party’s primary elections. 

What machinery did the party put in place to manage the fallout of the primaries?
In any human organisation of which APC is one, interests are bound to clash. There must be disagreements after every major primaries because in every contest involving two or three persons, only one person will win.

Having clearly established that fact, it is incumbent on us, who by the grace of God and the will of the people, assigned  the responsibility of managing the party to set up the machinery to reach out to every concerned person in the reconciliation process.

It is not an individual’s specific responsibility and as you must have seen in the media that Mr President met with some of our aggrieved colleagues that did not get the party ‘s tickets and that are not happy with the process. These are all parts of the reconciliation.

Committees will be set up to reach out to as many people as possible but the most important thing here is that we are a very large family. It is a viable platform and it is incumbent on us to ensure that we reached out to as many people as possible to assuage the aggrieved ones.

Is it true that there is strong division among members of the APC National Working Committee?

Sincerely speaking, I am not aware of any such division and I am just hearing it from you.

What is your take on the allegations of corruption against the party leadership by the Ogun, Imo and Zamfara governors – after the primaries conducted in their states and the report that the party’s national chairman was grilled by the DSS?

I saw the grilling of the national chairman by the DSS in the media. I am not aware of his invitation and questioning. I think that the National Publicity Secretary has issued a statement regarding the issue. On the states you mentioned, you will understand that there are many court cases already and as such commenting on it will be subjudice. It is not wise, politically speaking, for me to comment on the issue in the court of competent jurisdiction.

Is the recent report that the Federal Government wants to hire the services of US National Guard to tackle the security challenges in the country an admittance of failure by the APC-led government?

I may not agree with your view because if you want to talk about security, we should look at it from where we were before we get to the present state. You will agree with me that we were in a very difficult situation as a country.

But I am surprise that some of us have forgotten that 14 local government area councils were under the total control of Boko Haram to the extent that their flags were in the seized territory.

The then government lost absolute control of the situation. President Buhari anchored his campaign during the 2015 elections on three key areas, comprising the issue of insecurity, fighting corruption and addressing economic problems.

Everybody knows that no inch of Nigeria soil is under the control of Boko Haram today. Insurgency has been dealt with sufficiently to the extent that they only operate by attacking flash points. Government is addressing that challenges.

I agree that there are new security developments, like herdsmen attacks and the challenge we are having in Zamfara today. They are new development that are being comprehensively addressed.

The president has expressed dismay and has demonstrated commitments. Not too long ago, he deployed troops to Zamfara. He has equally summoned the Service Chiefs and issued them a commanding directive to address the issue completely. These security challenges were not there when we campaigned four years ago. But the good thing is that government is determined to fight that. You may say that it is not new, but the case of Jos then was previously an ethno-religious crisis. It quietened down when it was addressed. You and I should be honest enough to give credit where it deserves and criticise where and when necessary. In the case of involving the US National Guard, we should understand that security challenge today is not a peculiar Nigeria problem. It is everywhere in Africa and all over the world.

So, when government share information and interrelate with the intention of stopping a global security phenomenon, it is a welcome development. Security is a global challenge that requires global interaction. If for no other thing, the morale of the Nigeria Army is very high now unlike before.

What will the APC be campaigning on in 2019, apart from insecurity — especially as many Nigerians believe it did not do well in terms of good governance and economy?

Government has done really well and I will be bold enough to say that we have done well even though we may not have achieved our own heart desire and we may not have arrived where we want to be as a nation. However, it is a work in progress. We should not forget that this government is only three and half years but we are comparing it with the monumental corruption that took place in the past 16 years. It is not something you can get up and conclude in one year. It is like we are forgetting too fast that when this government came into office, the highest oil was sold was less than $30p/b. We took over from government that sold oil at $140p/b. There was no saving for the rainy day. There was no infrastructural development.

As we talk now, work is going on in the Southeast at the second Niger Bridge. The repairs of federal roads are currently going on. There is concentration on the development of our rail lines. Government is making serious commitment and investment in it. We are seeing the returns but these things have gestation period. The major thing that should concern everyone is whether there is the will, commitment and determination to achieve that. I want to emphasise that we have not got to where we want to be; but this government has done much in the various aspect of our economy. Today, we are no longer major importer of rice because we have practically reached to a point of sufficiency in terms of rice production. We are no longer talking about rice importation in the country.

Do you think the rate at which APC is approaching the crisis will help the party in 2019?

We must continue to talk because politics is collective. You cannot do it in isolation because it involves human beings and interests. It has gotten to the point we have to dialogue and address the issues. Any politician like me will not wish to lose any party member at all.

We have to lean over backwards to accommodate our personal interests. The window for dialogue is still open and we must get to the point we all have to agree. The APC is one big family but if we must retain power, the fight is not in the party but outside the party.

Do you share the feeling by many people that the combative attitude of the party’s national chairman is not helping in the resolution of these crises?

You know that everybody has their own style. The way one will handle a situation may be entirely different from the way another will. Handling issues varies from person to person. The point is not how you arrive at 10 but the important thing is arriving at 10. It is not the vehicle you use, the concern is the determination to solve the crises.

It is not a one-man-show or what many may call cabal. This thing about cabal has been over used. I grew up to hear about Kaduna mafia, Kano and or Anambra mafia. It is about two or three persons agreeing to do something. I agree with you that it could be about perception.

Is it true that humongous amount exchanged hands to help aspirants during the primaries?

I am not aware of that money exchanged hands to favour one aspirant or the other. I am not also aware that Mr President has directed a refund of any money collected to help any aspirant during the primaries. Anybody who collected money from any aspirant but failed to deliver should return it to him. However, as I said, I am not aware anybody collected money from any aspirant.

Do you share the feeling that former National Chairman of APC John Odigie Oyegun would have managed the situation better than Oshiomhole?

It boils down to the same speculation. We are trying to create an impossible situation. For me, God gives power at His own time. He determines who He wants to give it and at his own time. No leader emerges because he is good or bad.

What are the chances of President Buhari in 2019 considering the formidable opponent contesting against him?

His chances are very bright and I can take a bet. I am very confident because of his performances, report card and commitment. You will see an honest person in him. I don’t believe that his strongholds like Kano, Kaduna, Kwara are uncertain. Anybody who watched Buhari’s arrival at Kaduna unannounced and the crowd that received him will also know that the same thing will happen in Kwara and Kano States. The commoners and average Nigerian feel the impact of what he is doing. You can see the man’s determination and commitment. He is willing to deliver and making every effort, despite the challenges. We have to take into account where we were, where we are today and the likelihood of where we will be in the next four years.

Don’t you think that the body language of the international community seems not supportive of him?

Do the international community have a body? Let them conduct a poll in Nigeria and see what will happen. People are free to make assumptions but if there is any legacy Buhari wants to live, it will be a credible 2019 elections.

Ordinarily, one would expect that he would direct that the states be delivered but APC lost in the 21 local governments during the Anambra state governorship election. We must give credit where there is need for it and criticise when there is need for it.

Why there was issue with Osun is because APC won. Many would have celebrated Buhari if APC had lost Osun. But now that his party has won, we should give him credit.

What are your fears for Buhari’s re-election in 2019?

To be honest with you, I really don’t have any fear. However, what we need to do which is also good for our democracy is that we need to work hard as a party. We need to improve on our marketing and we need to consolidate on our area of advantage. We must continue to reach out to the people, doing what is expected of us considering the limited resources available to us.

If there are healing process to take place internally to avoid any more cracks, we must concentrate on it until they are done with. We must ensure we tidied up our house first.

Is it true that APC is jittery over Atiku’s emergence?

Why should we be jittery over Atiku? He is the choice of the PDP and we have no role to play over who emerges. PDP may have weighed its options but you may be surprise that other aspirants would have being a more formidable force. You may not know what an average Nigeria is looking for in a candidate.

Considering the protests that trailed the APC primaries, was there anything you would have done differently?

We are human beings running a human organisation and if I tell you that everything was perfectly done during the primaries, I may not be telling myself the truth. It is not easy to find a perfect situation. I will say that what happened was what would have ordinarily happened.

There may have been mistakes because human beings and interests are involved. Since we don’t have absolute control, the most important thing is the pertinent questions of whether our conscience is clear, whether we are sincere about our actions and whether we are aware that God is watching.

Once we ask ourselves these three questions and satisfied with the answer, we will leave the rest to the judgement of the people and God. Unfortunately, this is a business where people assume you have collected money from any side. At any given period, you are accused of receiving money from either the winner or loser.

Has APC given up on the removal of the National Assembly leadership?

The situation is not about giving up, the present reality is that as a law-abiding party, one thing is the wish while another is the act itself. We wish to have the leadership of the two chambers as a party, but the point is that the reality on ground will not make it achievable.

Considering the prevailing reality, the possibility of changing the leadership of the two chambers is not there because we need the required number to so. Don’t forget that we are in a constitutional democracy.

We may be left with no other option than to live with the current situation because we don’t have another choice. However, my simple appeal is that the common denominator is the unity of Nigeria.

We must all be accountable to the country. We have to place Nigeria first in whatever we do whether we are in the opposition or ruling parties.