Twice, he threw himself into the Anambra State governorship race. Again, he is making his third attempt at governing a state that boasts of many billionaires and godfathers. George Moghalu, the Managing Director of Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, spoke with reporters on his plans for the state. JIDE ORINTUNSIN was there.
You have an impressive record of achievements in the Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). Why then are you stepping out of NIWA?
I stepped 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 governorship 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.
However, principally, there is a desire and determination to serve our people at the level of the governor. That is without prejudice to the fact that I have a responsibility now which I am doing my best to justify the confidence of Mr. President who appointed me, my Ministers who nominated me, my family that has confidence in me and my friends who expect much from me.
I believe very strongly that to whom much is given much is expected. At this level, I believe much has been given to me. Then, I have the responsibility to deliver much to the society. For me, it is about service at another level.
Even before I become NIWA MD, by the grace of Mr. President, I was chairman of a board of federal parastatal, National Communication Satellite, NICOMSTAT. I served at the state level as Chairman of board. That goes to show, without sounding immodest, that I will do the best I can to justify the confidence trust on my shoulder.
What are the chances of APC in Anambra State?
APC as you know is a national party. There is a new re-awakening 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 southeast 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 tried 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 in the state?
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 governorship 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 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 knew 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.
Must you be governor? 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 it 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 fourth 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.
Let me say at this stage that for every opportunity that you have to serve posterity will remember you. That is my guiding principle. In any position, I give it my best shot so, that when I leave office I will be remembered. In offices I have held in the past and in NIWA presently, I have done everything I can. For example, you may be aware that for about 42 years, the Onitsha Port was design and built, it is under my administration that it had the first commercial badge. We are doing everything we can to ensure that our river port and those that are under construction are completed and functional because I believe very strongly that the only way you can address port congestion and infrastructural decay is by making the waterways functional.
All over the world, bulk cargos are either moved by water or by rail. Our roads are not designed to carry the pressure they are carrying. If the waterways are functional, over 60 to 70 containers that arrived Lagos today have their final destination in Onitsha or Aba. If we can take those going to Onitsha and move them by water for example, we will take 50 containers out of the roads.
What we have done is that we have taken 100,000 trailers out of the roads. 50 going and 50 coming with empty. If we can do this and achieve it, I can assure you that we are good to go. I want to be governor because I want to serve. I know how many times Lincoln tried to be a Counsellor and didn’t get it. He tried to be a House of Representatives member, but didn’t get it. He tried Senate and didn’t get it. But, when he tried President, he got it. So, you don’t know what the plan of God is.
If you enter a dark room with candlelight there is light you can see your face. If you enter the same room with a fluorescent tube it becomes brighter. If you take floodlight into the room, it becomes light. That is governance. You cannot give what you don’t have. So, they have given you what they have. I am confident and convinced that I will do better.
Is there any truth about 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 can you 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.
What is your view on the agitation for the Southeast to produce the next President?
It is also important for us to learn that power is not given but taken. The president of Igbo extraction means that far down Kastina, Yenagua, Calabar, Lagos etc, they all have a stake in the person who wants to be president because democracy is about numbers. So, it is incumbent on us now the South Easterners to think out of the box, build bridges and rebuild broken ones, make friends because every election has two stages, Primary and main election.
We need to see to what extent we are in control of the party structures because you and I know that as of today only two parties are in existence, the APC and PDP. If that is true, to what extent are we working hard to influence party’s structures because there is no provision for independent candidates?
Therefore, we need to work very hard as a people. We need to unite ourselves. We need to understand in all honesty that we have the confidence of all for the role they will play of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. He has to be elected by Nigerians. It is not about the Igbos alone electing the President; it would have been a lot easier if Igbos are electing their president. Wherever we are we all come home and elect our president. We are looking for the president of Nigeria but of Igbo extraction.
We need to get the buy-in of everybody. We need to win the confidence of everybody. It is not a responsibility for one person. It is our responsibility to the people. We must unite ourselves. Those in the party work very hard to win the confidence of the people so that the ticket will be given to an Igbo son or daughter.
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