Chief George Moghalu is the national auditor of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as well as an aspirant in the forthcoming Anambra state governorship election. In this interview with MIKE UBANI, the APC chieftain promised to change the landscape of the state if elected governor this November. He also commended the Buhari-led federal government for nearly winning the war against the terrorists, Boko Haram, as well as effecting positive reforms in the economy. Excerpts
What is the driving force behind your aspiration to occupy the Anambra state Government House, Awka?
I want to offer service; to do things differently, and primarily to change the landscape of Anambra state.
But the public perception is that the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano, has done very well in office, and should be allowed to do a second tenure. Do you share this perspective?
No. That is a wrong assumption. I keep telling people that it is all about perception, and perception has never been the reality. I try to create an analogy when I want to answer this question. If you are in a dark room now, and you bring in a candle light, there will be an illumination. If you bring in torchlight, you will notice an improvement in the illumination. And if you bring in fluorescent light, there will be greater illumination. Then, if you bring in flood light, there will be far greater illumination. So, because we are in a dark state, and candle light is brought in, and there is glimmer of illumination, people assume that there is an improvement. Quite alright, there is an improvement, but that is not for me what it should be. Governor Obiano has done his best; he is still doing his best. But by my own assessment, his best is not good enough, and so he should give way for the APC to govern the state.
What are those areas that he ought to have improved upon?
Generally, infrastructural development, quality infrastructural development, quality educational development, issue of health, agriculture, and every aspect of leadership. I think there is a large room for improvement.
What is your assessment of President Buhari’s performance in office in the past two years given his campaign promises?
To be honest with you, the Buhari administration has done very well in keeping with the promise made to the electorate. A few days back, I was confronted with this same question. I reminded the interviewer that our then Presidential candidate, who is now His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, anchored his campaign on three issues.
One is security of lives and property, with emphasis on the issue of Boko Haram. Second, is the issue of fighting corruption to a standstill, and thirdly, addressing the issue of our economy. Even those who don’t like us (APC) as a party, and as a government in power acknowledge the fact that before APC came into government, more than 14 local government areas of this country was practically under the control of Boko Haram terrorists, to the extent that they call it the Caliphate; their flags flying and their government in place. But today, Boko Haram is almost a thing of the past. No one inch of Nigerian soil is under the control of anybody other than the leadership of this country. What you find now are snippets of attacks which is expected, but in no distant future, I am sure we’ll not talk about the issue of insecurity. A few days back, to the excitement of the country, 82 of our daughters abducted by Boko Haram terrorists , were released. And according to the Hon. Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, efforts are being made for more of these girls who are still under the captivity of Boko Haram to be released.
The Buhari administration is addressing the issue of corruption. I remember the President saying that if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. The government has set in motion measures to address this issue of corruption. You and I know what the introduction of the Bank Verification Number (BVN), and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy have done for the country, and just recently, the Whistle Blower Policy. I believe like a lot of Nigerians do that if we are able to kill corruption permanently, our challenges certainly would be addressed.
When looking at our economy, let us ask ourselves: where did we start, and where were we before this government came in? And I tell you that before this government came in to be, oil was selling at one hundred and twenty US dollars a barrel, and you and I know that Nigeria is a one product economy – most unfortunately. Some years back, the World Bank advised our country to save; that recession was approaching, but nobody listened to them. Sadly enough, we had no savings, we had no investment in infrastructure – look at the stage where we are in power supply today. Most unfortunately, when the present administration came in to be, there was international recession, and the price of oil dropped to an unfortunate level of between twenty-eight and thirty US dollars per barrel, and this affected government projects. But this government in its determination to change our story, started aggressive diversification of the economy. Today, there is aggressive investment in agriculture and solid minerals sectors, all meant to create an enabling environment for the economy to grow. Today, we have reasonable stability on the exchange rate policy. So, I am confident that by the time this administration concludes its first four-year mandate, we would have built a solid foundation upon which we can now build a formidable structure, and our economy will begin to thrive.
Some Nigerians hold the view that the whole saga of abduction of Chibok girls is a scam. What is your reaction on this?
How can it be a scam? The girls are alive. If there is any scam, it is the inability and deficiency of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that put us where we are today. If not as a result of the ineptitude and unseriousness of the past PDP administration, we won’t be where we are today. If the past administration had pursued the issue of the Chibok girls the moment it happened with commitment and dedication, those girls would have been recovered entirely at that time.
You don’t believe the suggestion that the Chibok girls were quartered in a private home as some people have alleged?
That’s a callous thought. So, the people who are alleging this think the government is so idle to the extent that they will take girls and quarter them in a private home and nobody knew about it. And after three years, they started bringing them out and advertising them on television. We must try to separate politics from reality.
APPOINTMENT OF POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS
Do your share the view that the South-East has been marginalized by the Buhari administration in the appointment of political office holders?
It’s not true. I want anybody who said that to come out with empirical facts. When ministers were appointed, the South-East got its share; board members are being appointed and I have seen Igbo names there.
Don’t you think the Federal Government should have brought in more South-Easterners into this administration?
As an Igbo man, I would wish that every appointment comes from the South-East. If it is a matter of wish, I would wish the President and the Vice President, minister of finance, works, and housing come from my village. But the reality is that these appointments must reflect the federal character principle.
The federal government recently awarded a major road contract in Cross River state without awarding any in the South-East. Are you also satisfied with this treatment?
But the Federal Government has awarded contract for the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway; and the Second Niger Bridge. These are projects that are being funded by the Federal Government. There was a time in this country when South-East produced the Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), minister of finance, chairman, House committee on works, chairman, Senate committee on works, and the question is: why didn’t they repair the Enugu-Onitsha and Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressways? They were flagging-off Second Niger Bridge every four years during election. That is the only bridge in history that was flagged off four times. But it is only this administration that has put money down for the project, and construction is going on. If you look at the 2017 budget, the South-East is sufficiently accommodated, and the government is funding the budget within the limit of available resources.