Dr George Moghalu, the National Auditor of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is a governorship aspirant in Anambra State. He spoke with GBADE OGUNWALE in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on the Buhari administration, the crisis in the ruling party and his ambition to rule the Southeast state.
Why do want to be governor of Anambra State?
I am very confident that the APC will win the next gubernatorial election in Anambra State because by the time we put all the issues on the table; by the time we get our people to understand the issues on ground, when we do a realistic assessment of governance and what is on ground, I’m sure the people will see the need for a change. Yes, I have said it several times that I am qualified to be a President or a Counselor. That said, let me say that I am usually driven by the wish of my people. The observation that I am nursing a governorship ambition is very right. But, I’m going to elaborate on it at the appropriate time. As to wheter I’m desirous of running for the governorship seat next year, the answer is an emphatic yes.
What is your reaction to the visit of some Southeast Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislator to the President?
My reaction to that visit was one of surprise. Granted that the Southeast is in dire need of what they were talking about, which is failed infrastructures but it is instructive to note that these same set of people have been in government, have been in power for 16 years. There was a time the Southeast had the Deputy President of the Senate, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secreatry to the Government of the Federation, our daughter was the Minister of Finance and at the same time we had our sons as Chairmen Senate Committee on Works and now they were talking about failed infrastructures. That’s very embarrassing because these are the people that have been in government for the past 16 years. I’m rather happy and very excited that these people I called ‘born again champions of the Igbo interest’ are now waking up to their responsibilities. With all those I listed earlier, isn’t it a shame that we are talking about failed infrastructures in the Southeast? But it is all good because, as one Igbo proverb says that whenever you wake up is your morning, it could be that they have woken up from their slumber and I’m happy for it.
Could the President’s focus on Southeast infrastructural development swing the region in favour of the APC in the next general election?
There is no doubt about the fact as a government and as a party, I am very confident that this administration will pay attention to infrastructural development in the region, because we are a component part of this nation. For instance, a look at the first APC budget will show you that attention was focused on infrastructural development in the Southeast with specific projects. This goes to show the concerns of the government, that it appreciates the need to address the failed infrastructures in the region and the commitment is there. I’m confident the government will do it.
Dont you think the economic recession, militancy, kidnappings will affect the APC in 2019
The year 2019 is still far away but this is about governance, interest of the people and not politics. This is about implementing the party’s manifesto and promises made by Mr President. Everyone acknowledges that there is recession but I must also say that it is not peculiar to Nigeria alone because the challenge we have today in the economic sector is global. It is also a fact that we have a mono product economy with a far greater percentage of our income coming from oil, which price is deternined outside the shores of this country. Therefore, whatever affects the product Internationally must naturally affect us being our major source of income. That is why this government is shifting focus to other sectors of the economy like agriculture and solid minerals with lots of emphasis and investments in these two areas. Very soon, I believe we will start to reap solid dividends from them. We are also aware of the challenges in the Niger Delta with the resurgence of militancy which is affecting our oil outputs that has led to a drastic reduction in resources available to the government. That is not to say that the government is not alive to its responsibilities because the President assured the nation that the recession is for a short time and he must have said that based on information available to him flowing from policies and strategies put in place to address the situation. Like every other Nigerian, I’m concerned since all of us, both the APC members and non-APC members buy from the same market. I dont think there is a market designed for the APC members or non- APC members alone, so, whatever happens to Mr A happens to Mr B, whatever effect this is having on Mr A is equally felt by Mr B. Meanwhile, when talking about this recession, we must not lose sight of the fact that we failed to save for the rainy day, when the going was good despite being warned severally by the World Bank and others. Sadly enough there was a time oil was selling not below $100 a barrel but regrettably we had no savings neither did we address the issue if infrastructural decay. We all know how much was spent on power infrastructure but does that increase our power output? We only spent more for less and that is why the government is laying emphasis on corruption in public businesses. We all understand the challenges but I will always urge Nigerians to continue to give support to this government in whatever way we can contribute to get things right, let us look at it from the point of veiw of the Nigerian state and not from individual’s point.
What about the fuel price hike speculation that has refused to go away?
If I heard the Minister of State for Petroleum right, he had said there is nothing like a planned hike in fuel price. This only goes back to the realm of speculation because the Minister and the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are in the right position to make such pronouncements and nobody has come out to quote these two on that sensitive issue. When people sit somewhere and project into the future and think this is how things may or should happen and start to make news out of it, them it becomes worrisome.
With the APC having majority in the National Assembly, is the President enjoying the support it deserved?
There is no crisis between the APC-led government and the APC-led National Assembly, what I see there is just communication gap or communication management. For instance, when the issue of loan crept up, the Senate sent it back with their reasons that the details weren’t attached. I see this as a plus not a negative trend because ordinarily, being of the same party, it is expected or taken for granted that whatever demand or request is sent to the National Assembly will just be approved. That mesns that what we are witnessing now has shown that every arm of government is living up to its responsibilities. That an Executive sent something to an Assembly where it is in the majority and that Assembly said no, we have to examine this very critically without prejudices, without partisan politics, then I want to believe that our democracy is growing positively for the interest of the masses. This goes to show that there is synergy, that as a party, we are not partisan with issues that concern Nigerians.
Would the performance of the governor not affect the chances of the APC in next year’s election?
It is usually very embarrassing when I hear people say a governor is paying salaries as part of achievements. Are the civil servants in those states working for free? It is their entitlement, so it makes no meaning to applaud a governor for paying salaries, it is like telling me that it us an achievement for me to feed my family. So if a governor is paying salaries, it is his duty and part of responsibility of government but such should not be elevated to the level of absurdity making it an achievement. Flowing from that, I think we are coming to a point where we separate reality on ground from propaganda, where we have to put the issues straight by looking at governance, people’s expectations, promises made, looking at where we are and where we should have been and where we should be in future. I am going to address the issue of Anambra at the appropriate time with statistics.