Chief George Moghalu is national auditor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and an aspirant in the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election. He speaks with MUYIWA OYINLOLA on burning national issues even as he urges the people of the state to prepare for the poll in spite of the call by IPOB to boycott it.
How do you react to the call for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari, for being absent from the country this long?
To me, it sounds very funny. The president, when he was leaving made it very clear that he was going on medical vacation, and as a good democrat that he is, he handed over to his vice president, who is now the acting president. So, this call, to me, doesn’t make sense because there is no vacuum. Government is running. Who told you he doesn’t have communication with the acting president?
Some people are of the opinion that the acting president is being caged by a cabal and not given free hand to operate?
How do you determine that. I will like to know how you determine that. Are you saying that whenever they want to communicate, they should inform us that they want to communicate? What is the basis for this? Is there any lacuna in government? No. Things are running as they should. So, the president should be commended for being a pure democrat.
We have had situations in this country where presidents travelled and did not hand over to their vice presidents. He needs to be commended. This is a man who believes in the rule of law, a true democrat. And he practices it. We must judge him by his actions, and this is one of them.
During the week, Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, said the president has been on life support for about 20 days. As a NWC member, one would expect you to know whether or not the statement is true?
For me, it sounds nauseating. It sounds very nauseating. We must be human. We must try as much as possible to divorce politics from reality. If there was any issue with the president, is he the one to know? He’s not. You’re the third person asking me this question and I refuse to comment on it because I don’t think it’s necessary.
Unlike the other time when people traveled to see him and even took pictures with him when he was sick, nothing of such is being seen now. Couldn’t this suggest his situation may be critical?
What if he decides not to take pictures? The choice is his. Even you and I, every one of us determines how we want to spend our vacations. It is left to us. So, if I decide to spend my vacation by the sea side, it’s my choice. If I decide to stay in my room and study, it’s my choice. I could take vacation to read. I could take vacation to spend more time with my family. I could take a vacation to solve some personal problems. Somebody can take a vacation to write his memoir. So, must he be on the street?
Your party has been in government for over two years now, yet there is no virile opposition. Your party has been fingered as having a hand in the crisis in the opposition PDP. How do you react to this?
If you follow my history, I have always believed there is a need for a strong opposition. I’ve been in opposition. This is the first time I’ll be in government. So, I understand how it feels. I’ve always said that both the opposition party and the ruling party are in government. One is in government to keep to the electoral promises made. The other is government to ensure that the promises made are kept. So, if the opposition is dead, like you’re saying, it’s a cause for worry because it is not even in the interest of the polity.
Coming to the issue of my party being fingered, it is expected that we’ll be accused because we’re the opposing political parties. But I can tell you that we have never discussed PDP as an issue. As a party, we’re not interested in their activities. Their problem is internal. Let them make efforts to resolve their problem which is strictly internal. They should resolve their problem. The APC as a party has no hand in it.
One of the allegations is that Ali Modu Sheriff, factional chairman of PDP is an in-law to the president and he’s therefore working to destroy it in order to pave way for your party’s victory in 2019?
I don’t know about that. If he’s an in-law to the president, that is a personal thing. A lot of us are linked to one another one way or the other. I have friends and relations who are in PDP, even the newly registered APDA; all of them. We have relationships across board. But as a party, we
do not have a hand in that.
Now, there are about 50 parties in the country. Do you think proliferation of parties is healthy for our democracy, or would you rather advocate for just two or three strong parties?
You have to act strictly with what the law says. If the law says parties should be registered so long they meet certain criteria, you have no choice, once they meet the criteria. You can’t stop them by fiat. Sometimes back, we had 63 political parties. It didn’t make any difference. Some people may not like any of the parties, so they may want to form their own parties based on their ideological leaning, based on their own ambition. The point still remains there were strong political parties. So, we have 40 plus now and I won’t be surprised if we hit 50 anytime soon. I feel once you meet up with INEC requirements, they should register you.
Two years after assuming office, your party is yet to hold its convention as against its constitution. Why the delay?
I think an explanation has been made on that. We make the law, we can change the law. Conventions are held at the convenience of the party. The party met and we agreed on when we’re going to hold it and the chairman gave a detailed explanation on the delay. But certainly, we’re going to hold the convention.
I’m not in a position to determine how soon, I’m only a member of the National Working Committee. The decision as to when to hold it is not only a National Working Committee matter, it’s also a NEC issue. The Working Committee will make the proposal and the NEC will approve it, that’s the way it is done.
What is your take on the recent call for restructuring by former military Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.), and the recent call by some Northern youths that Igbos should leave the North?
I will take your question from different perspectives. That a former president said it does not mean he does not have an opinion as an individual. So, we must respect he’s opinion. Every opinion is subject to the constitution.
But be that as it may, the problem here is that a lot of people that are talking about restructuring, secession, what have you, are not even able to differentiate between the two.
For some uninformed people who are shouting secession, they are also shouting restructuring. A lot of them have to the educated so that they know the difference between secession and restructuring. There is nothing wrong with restructuring so long as it accommodates the component parts of the nation. We can decide to restructure on the line of our economy. We can decide to restructure on the line of our administration or organizations. So, there is nothing unusual about restructuring but the truth still remains that it has to be discussed. And as we speak today, there are platforms already in existence where you can discuss these issues. You can take the National Assembly as a platform. You can take the political parties as a platform. You can take INEC as a platform.
You can the Executive Council as a platform, because as I speak to you now, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has representatives from all the states of the federation. So, every interest will be accommodated. So, there is nothing about it. The only thing that I keep saying is that let us keep talking to ourselves. We don’t achieve anything by bringing down the entire fabric, by pulling down the whole structure. We don’t achieve anything.
I have no problem about restructuring but the issue is ‘to restructure what and for what purpose’? The media should help educate us that there is a wall of difference between restructuring and secession. Once we establish this fact, a lot of people will understand what demands they are making.
Coming to the quit notice issues by some young men. I think government has sufficiently addressed it. The sanctity of lives and properties in the various states where people decide to live by choice is guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution and nobody in his right senses will just wake up and ask every other person to go, because it’s an infringement and I believe very confidently, there are security agencies; I believe very confidently that the government of the day led by President Muhammadu Buhari has the capacity to protect every citizen of this country, where you decide to live and make an honest living within the confine of Nigeria. So, for me, government has made itself very clear and has called them to order.
Some people’s view of restructuring is the devolution of power to the states whereby there will a weak centre with strong states or regions. What is your view on that?
I have no problem with this. It’s about application. My position is that it should be discussed. We can agree as a people, at the National Assembly, at federal executive council, at political parties level, on whatever we want to do. There are many areas that you look at when you talk about true federalism.
You look at state police, you look at the issue of the independence of our economy. These are all possibilities but the fact still remains that it has to be discussed and agreed, using the available platforms. It is not something you can wish into existence, it is not something you can create by fiat because this is democracy. So long it is for and about the people, we don’t have any problem with discussing as a nation, using the existing platforms to do what we want to do.
As a governorship aspirant in the forthcoming election in Anambra State, how do you react to the recent pronouncement of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu that people should boycott the election?
He’s speaking for himself. I’m not sure he’s speaking for Anambra people. The truth of the matter is that anybody that will be elected governor is Anambra son or daughter.
Anambra politics is about money and you’re not a moneybag. So, what are your chances?
I agree with you on the perception that Anambra politics is about money. Those who have won elections in the past are not moneybags. So, it is not about money. It is about integrity, it is about the quality of the person. It is about his capacity to move the state forward. It is about his love and commitment to the people of the state. It is also about his acceptability. It is not about money. And I want to assure you something, this election while money is required for logistic purposes, money does not count the way we perceive it.
Of course, money has a role to play like I said. Money will come if you’re accepted by your people. People put money on candidates they believe will help them deliver their state. The only way you can attract that is about your integrity, your capacity and the goodwill you carry.
How optimistic are you that you will be able to defeat an incumbent who people, perceive is doing well?
I will win. God is on my side. The people are also on my side. Incumbency has been demystified in this country. Incumbents have lost elections in the country.