Moghalu: Six-Year Single Term for President, Govs Best for Nigeria’s Democracy

Former Director General of National Inland Waterways, Chief George Moghalu, in this interview, bears his mind on several national issues including the six-year single tenure being proposed for President, State Governors which he says is ideal for the nation’s democratic system. He also scored Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State low saying he has not performed up to people’s expectations. Adedayo Akinwale brings excerpts:

How would you describe life outside active politics?

It has been very interesting. The problem people have is not being able to tell themselves the truth that whatever has a beginning must have an end. When you are given a letter of appointment, it comes with an exit date to leave the stage after the duration of your tenure. And if the renewal comes, which is at the liberty of the appointing authority, then count yourself lucky. Nothing surprising and unexpected happened because I did not leave politics. 

I have never changed from who I am and not even the office changed me while I was there and after I left. Whether I did well or not at NIWA, is left for posterity to judge and for the people I served to assess me properly.

What are you missing leaving politics for the classroom?

I did not leave politics because politics is part of my life. What I have done was to manage my time to be able to accommodate my studies and at the same time still be involved in politics. Yes, I have to admit that I may not have been as visible as I used to be because I am neither holding any appointive or elective position.

How true is the speculation that you have left the APC for the Labour Party?

You must understand that at my level in politics in this country, I have never jumped from one party to the other. However, if I must leave the APC for LP, it has to be consequent upon my signing a statement from a recognised representative or my media office. And not until that happens, I will say that I am still with the APC. The social media report on my joining LP actually generated so much concern that people across the globe called to confirm the authenticity of that report. My answer has been that as of today, I have not left the APC. If I am going to leave the APC, there is a process, especially for somebody at my level. The process has to do with resigning membership of where I am now, not by proxy; but by formally writing to notify my ward about my intention to leave the party and I will make the resignation public. I may not give any reason because I am at liberty as my fundamental right.

If I decide to continue with politics or join another political party after due consultations, I will announce where I am going. I may even decide to play politics without joining any political party. I can be an independent player, and even though there is no independent candidacy; I can be an independent influencer or driver of the process.That does not make me a non-political actor. It is not only until you belong to a political party that you are a politician. And let me repeat, if I decide to leave the APC I will announce it publicly.

What is your membership status in APC and your relationship with the leaders of the party?

I am a full-fledged member of the APC. I am a card-carrying member of the party. I have personal relationships across-board that I built over the years. Nobody, not even my enemy, can dispute the fact that I have always been a key player in APC right from the formation. I didn’t join the APC, I was among the group that sat down, drafted the constitution, had meetings, gave it a name, and registered it. In fact, I was the coordinating secretary that gave birth to the APC. So, I am not an unknown quantity in the party and even my enemy will acknowledge that fact. My status in the party is not in contention.

It is not an issue for discussion or debate because the fact is clear as to who I am. Don’t forget that apart from being part of the formation of the party, I was the pioneer National Auditor of the party. I was re-elected for a second term. It was while I was serving that former President Muhammadu Buhari appointed me the MD of NIWA. And that was the first time I left the national secretariat of our party. And I have consistently been in party administration from 1999 till date.

Are you contesting the Anambra state governorship election next year?

If it pleases God that I will run for the election next year, I will make it public at the right time. For now, I am still consulting. And as for the political platform, I will say that consultation is also still on.

How do you rate other party members aspiring for the position?

I have never claimed to be God. And I have always said that power belongs to God and He gives it to who He pleases and at His own time. I cannot stop anybody’s ambition. The political party is like a church, it has no gateman. One can be Pentecostal on Monday, decide to be Catholic on Tuesday, and a Muslim the next day. People can be driven by their ambition but the choice of who leads is a consequence of God’s design and manifestation through the people, who the power actually belongs to.

Is Governor Soludo a big threat to your governorship ambition?

Truth be told, he cannot give what he does not have. He will do his best. He desires to win, but whether I am convinced he will win the second term will be a matter for discussion for another day. You also asked if there is a formidable opposition that can unseat him and my answer is very simple, there are quite a lot.

Many people are going to be interested in the seat and it will manifest as time draws closer. We still have over one year for the incumbent to prove some people wrong and within the period, the other opposition parties have opportunities to present a strong candidate for the Anambra people to decide whether we will accept him or go for a change. 

As I said, I am consulting across party lines because winning the governorship seat in Anambra state is not a party affair. According to the statistics, membership in political parties is less than 30 per cent of the total registered voters. What happens to the other 70 per cent? You have to win them over to make the needed impact to win the election. It is not about holding the ticket of one party or the other that will decide the winner of the election.

What are the factors that will help you decide whether you are contesting or not?

One of them is the acceptability of my aspiration and the platform by the Anambra people because the two go together. People will ask who the person is, what is he bringing to the table, and which platform he is running. These are the critical questions that must be asked. It is in the course of the consultation that we will be able to find the answers.

In the interim, what are your fears ahead of the Anambra governorship election?

Sincerely, I don’t have any iota of fear, not even one. There is no reason to entertain any fear over my aspiration. Not even the threat from APGA will make me troubled. 

When the chips are down and when we put the cards on the table, we will start asking ourselves some critical basic questions like to what extent has the incumbent delivered on the mandate given to him, do we have prospects for improvement, and putting sentiment aside, is it where we should be and where do we want to be in the next five years? These are issues that will be brought into public discussion.

One mistake many people make, especially we politicians, is to assume that the electorate are foolish, but this time around, people are becoming more aware, and beginning to ask the contestants questions like who are you, where are you coming from, what have you done in the past, can you be trusted, are you a promise keeper, what did you do in your previous engagements, assignments, and to what extent can you be accessed?

In your assessment of Governor Soludo will you say it is a general state of hopelessness?

I won’t say that it is a general state of hopelessness, but there is a lot that he ought to have done. There are also certain things they have done that I would have done differently if I had the opportunity. As I said earlier, you can only give what you have. One thing I have never done was to criticise without providing an alternative. In the history of my political journey, I don’t just attack for the sake of it.

With the realities on ground, is this still the APC of your dream?

We really have so much work to do if we are sincere. It is not only about leadership but also followership. The action of the followers is a reflection of what the leaders asked them to do both in words and actions. There is a lot of re-engineering, there is a need for sincerity and we must all come clean.

With the reality on ground, what is your assessment of the current government at the centre?

To be honest with you, I sympathise with President Bola Tinubu, judging by the reality on ground and that is why I fervently pray for him. The challenges are so enormous and it is about all the support he can get from all the major players and sectors, especially those holding positions of responsibility. 

It is not only about the president. So much work needs to be done and we cannot pretend about it. You asked if he has impressed me in his first anniversary, he has done reasonably well in the face of the challenges confronting him. The reality is that we are in a difficult situation because the people on the streets, the poor farmers in the village, and the average workers may not understand these difficulties. But as to whether we have challenges, it is enormous.

Can you do a comparative analysis of nine years of APC and nine years of PDP?

I may not correctly do the comparative analysis because I don’t have the available facts; however, the truth is that APC, in the past nine years, has done reasonably well. We have had challenges over some time, and building a collapsed system is a difficult process.

Time was in this country when Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala was fighting the governors to save the excess crude funds, and if we had done that, I am sure we would not have been where we are today. Time was in this country when we had so much to build infrastructure and if we had done that we would not have been where we are today. The government has also invested in the power sector, but the result has not been shown yet. And you cannot blame this government for it. Billions of dollars were invested in the sector over the past 15 to 20 years but look at where we are today.

It would be unfair and insincere for anybody to blame this government even though they are trying to do something to address this particular challenge. What everyone needed to do was to contribute within our little ways to assist the government in pulling the string.

Is the campaign for APC to take over the South East a realistic one?

Any political party can win an election. But there are two basic factors. Who is the candidate, and the perception of the party within the environment? If you don’t address these issues, you are wasting your time. We are not going anywhere if we don’t nominate the right candidate, and address the issue of perception, which may not be reality but is very critical in political assessment.

What is your take on the plan to limit the president and governors to a six-year single tenure?

It is a good idea if you look at it from the face value. The argument they present is that a lot of effort, energy, and resources are usually wasted in fighting for a second term. From the defence I got on television, it will also remove that anxiety and refocus the elected officials on the reality of spending a six-year single tenure and ensure that they work with that. It will be a case of when they will go having won. It is going to be different from what we are seeing in the four-year double term. 

What we see is that in the first six months to one year, if he is not prepared, he will learn on the job, and he will do governance for one year and six months. Two and half years will be gone only for him to use the remaining years to prepare for re-election. Every agenda and every project will fail on arrival if it is not tied to the second-term bid.

Will a return to the parliamentary system of government be the solution to Nigeria’s democratic problem?

The parliamentary system of government will not be the solution to our political problem because our problem is not about what is written in the books, but about implementation. We can write the best of the constitution, but we can agree not to obey it. Again, when you are insincere and determined to fault or circumvent the process, no matter how good the Parliamentary process is, it will never work. There must be sincerity of purpose and determination to do what is right.

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