‘We’re Going to Present What APC Has Done in South-east, Anambra’

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Managing Director of National Inland Waterways, Mr. George Moghalu talks to Adedayo Akinwale on his achievements in the agency and his desire to contest in the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress

How have you been coping with managing the affairs of NIWA all these years?

Those who knew a little about the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) when I took over as MD knew that only few people knew about it. It was bad that people didn’t even know that it is a parastatal under the Ministry of Transportation. I saw that NIWA was under reported as a major critical challenge. Because I know that for you to make the needed impact, people must know that you exist. We needed to bring NIWA to the consciousness of Nigerians, get them to know who we are, our responsibilities and get them to share in our challenges and aspirations. When they know what we stand for and our constitutional responsibility, if we have challenges, they can buy into them and see the extent they can partner in solving the problems. I saw NIWA as under-reported. I want to place it on record that I have been receiving encouragement from the media.

The key responsibilities that NIWA is expected to do, principally, is to move cargos and personnel through our waterways. For me, I see that as a major challenge. I previously said that I would like to leave office as MD of NIWA, if there is anything I want as a record, it is to be recorded in my favour that water transportation becomes a major choice both for cargo and personnel. If we are able to arrive at that destination, with all modesty, I will say we have succeeded. Publicity is a way of bringing NIWA to the consciousness of the people.

What have you been able to do?

We have done quite a lot. We bought beautiful world-class jetties. We brought crafts and placed orders for dredgers and we have improved on our sensitization. We have addressed the issue of navigational challenges and accidents on our waterways. Recently, we have deployed ambulances to different places. We have been able to improve the morale of our staff. As we speak there is a salary review. We have done quite a lot of training and some are still ongoing. The beautiful thing about the training is not only for management staff. We are doing training for the least of the staff. For their sake, they are still undergoing some forms of training because of what we want to do. We want a situation where everybody is updated about NIWA. We have also done an aggressive restructuring of our headquarters. It is quite different from what it used to be when we came into office.

Again, everyone is aware that we came into the office at a time when the Coronavirus pandemic ravaged the world. We have aggressively addressed that unlike before when you cannot go to any of our jetties to board our vessels or operate from one jetty to the other without adhering strictly to the COVID-19 protocols. Without a life jacket, nobody can be allowed. We insist on observance of COVID-19 protocols. We have been able to do much to save the lives of Nigerians we consider very critical in public transportation. Today, I will not say we have gotten to where we want to be, but we are a work in progress. We are doing our best and sustaining the efforts apart from the physical construction and some level of procurement.

Water Hyacinth and floating debt are other challenges we have on our waterways. We have done part of those clearing and as we speak the processes are still ongoing. We are removing dregs on all the inland waterways because it constitutes lots of hazards and challenges. Water maintenance is not a one off thing. It is not something you will say I have done and I won’t do again. It is something that comes seasonally. We have consistently zeroed our minds and addressing it as it comes. We have done quite a lot in NIWA.

Why then are you trying to step out of NIWA?

I step into NIWA and the date to step out is not the issue now. My desire to serve as governor of Anambra state is not a new thing. I am sure you know that I ran for the gernorship seat in 2003. It is only because of the desire to change the narrative. I believe very strongly that I have the capacity, ability, and determination to change the story of my state. I want to play an active role in getting the state back to where it should be. I believe that lots of things have not been done right. I believe there are better alternatives. Better ways to do things to change the story. As we get along, when I will unfold my manifesto, people will understand the driving force.

What are the chances of APC in Anambra

APC as you know is a national party. There is a new reawakening across the country, particularly in the South-east. But, the fundamental point is not necessarily about the old narratives. It is about the new consciousness. I keep telling people that we are going into the election with our report cards. We are going to present what APC has been able to do in South-east and Anambra.

We are going to put it side by side with what others have done. Again, we also have to put the credibility, character, capacity, and ability of whoever is going to fly the flag of the party into consideration. That is why it is important that the party takes into cognizance the experience, exposure, capacity, and ability of the contestant that can win election without baggage.

We have very great personalities. Our people are not satisfied with the governance of the state today. It is like, having married this man for some time, let us try this other husband. PDP has ruled our state, APGA has ruled our state, why don’t we then try APC to see whether the narrative will change. Let us see the differences so that we can do enormous comparative analysis. As for whether we have the chance, I can tell you, without sounding immodest, that it is our best chance.

What about the issue of zoning?

Truth be told, there is no place an agreement was reached in terms of everybody sitting down to sign a document that it must be zoned to the south. Truth also be told that for justice and fairness, Anambra South should benefit. Moreover, if you look at the narrative of key players like the traditional rulers, critical stakeholders, they will tell you that for things to work properly the right thing to do is to zone the position of the governorship seat to Anambra south. This is without prejudice to the fact that every street in Anambra state has the capacity to generate a complete cabinet. I can tell you that we are well-schooled. You can have the kind of person you want in all the three senatorial zones of the state. But, for equity and fairness, the tide favours the South. That is why everybody appears to be singing the song that this time around, the ticket should be in the South.

The race will be that of billionaires, are you one?

I don’t know whether among the criteria for election now is to be a billionaire. I also know that there is no column to indicate that aspirants should attach a bank account in their interest forms. What I can tell you is that I am comfortable by the grace of God. It is not about now. I am a contented person. I know contentment is great riches which gives a lot of peace of mind.

As to whether I will run against billionaires, it depends on what Anambra people are looking for. If we are looking for billionaires, we know where to find them. If we are looking for someone to deliver in terms of service, we know where to find them. One thing I can tell you about our people is that we know what we want. An average Anambra man and woman knows what they want. So, when we get to the bridge, we will cross it. But, what I can tell you without fear of contradiction, is that finance won’t is an issue.

You have contested severally, must you be governor and what are those things you will do differently from what Peter Obi and other governors have not done?

I don’t know the premise of your question whether I must be governor. What I don’t know is whether it is because I have tried it two times and going for the third time. Otherwise, I would have given you examples of those that tried three or four times before God answers their prayer. The truth about it is that I am not desperate. I believe very strongly that all powers belong to God. And He gives it to whoever He pleases at his own time. You must make yourself available for God to use you. If it is the will of God that I will be governor, nothing can stop it. If it is His will that I will not be governor, nothing can also make it possible.

Is there any truth on the imposition of candidates during the primary?

The question should not have come to me but to the party because I was not part of a meeting to impose a candidate. However, I agree with those who are saying that for any democratic process to be credible, peaceful, and achieve success at the end of the day, the party primary process must be credible and acceptable. One good thing about credible primary is that it encourages unity among members after the primary. It is easier to lose and the person reconciles with a party, the establishment and moves on. When you feel short-changed and deceived that the process was schemed ab initio, with the intention to get you out of the way, if it eventually happens, there is likelihood and tendency to fight back. That is not usually in the interest of the party. Just like you on the outside, my appeal is let the process be free, fair, and credible.

How convinced are you that you will defeat the other contestants this time around?

I am convinced. God’s time is now. And that is why I am going to give it my best shot for the will of God to be done.

Who is bankrolling you since Anambra is full of political godfathers?

God and the people are my godfathers. If you check my political history and trajectory, you can’t find any of such godfathers. But, I respect leaders. There are influential leaders who have opinions and it will be unfair to ignore them. You will also find it necessary to convince them to see your vision from the same prism if they are convinced they will do everything within human capacity to see that you succeed.

Nobody can come out today and claim he is my godfather. God is my Godfather and everybody knows that in my politics. I respect people, I honour them even the people you consider poor. The truth about it is that if one million people put 100 Naira, it is already a N100 million. So it is about the narrative for people to buy into it. Once they buy into it, God’s willing, your destination is assured. My Godfather is God in heaven and the people he is going to use in Anambra state.

Over 11 contestants are vying for the position, can you step down in the primary for anybody?

The issue of stepping down does not even arise. I wonder who will look at me and ask me to step down. My decision to run for office was taken in my closet how can anyone come out and say I should step down? Such will not even arise, I can assure you.

Will Anambra people trust APC?

Why will they not trust APC when the facts are on the ground? I just use one example. In 16 years they were flagging off the Niger Bridge. Every four years they flag it off and after flagging it off they dismantle the canopies and the story ends there until Buhari came into office and we are talking of the completion date. Is that not enough story to tell? Let me also draw your attention to the fact that there was a time in this country that an Igbo son was Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker. An Igbo was chairman of the Senate committee on works. An Igbo son was committee chairman on works. An Igboman was secretary to the Government of the Federation; Igbo daughter was Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy. Yet no one kilometre road was tarred in the South East states.

Enugu to Onitsha collapsed completely. But, today work is ongoing. That is why I said we are going to go to the election with our report cards. If we have refused to sing our songs, we are going to sing them during the election. If you are the only one licking this soup and you say it is very sweet, the only way I will agree that the soup is sweet is when you lick and allow me to lick. Then when I lick I will say I agree with you that it is sweet.

QUOTE

God and the people are my godfathers. If you check my political history and trajectory, you can’t find any of such godfathers. But, I respect leaders. There are influential leaders who have opinions and it will be unfair to ignore them. You will also find it necessary to convince them to see your vision from the same prism if they are convinced they will do everything within human capacity to see that you succeed.

Nobody can come out today and claim he is my godfather. God is my Godfather and everybody knows that in my politics. I respect people, I honour them even the people you consider poor. The truth about it is that if one million people put 100 Naira, it is already a N100 million. So it is about the narrative for people to buy into it. Once they buy into it, God’s willing, your destination is assured. My Godfather is God in heaven and the people he is going to use in Anambra state