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« Of Sleaze and the last Messiah | Main | Biafran Footballers: Mr. Obasanjo’s legacy »

April 12, 2005

Ngige and Uba stole our Mandate – George Moghalu

Interview by Uche Nworah ---- He is one of the few shining stars of his generation. If Nigeria were a country where ideas and ideals ruled and mediocrity was allowed to languish where it belonged, in the trash can, then George Moghalu may well have been granting this interview from the government House Awka, as the executive governor of Anambra state, having contested for the governorship election of the state in 2003 under the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) platform. Prior to diving into the mad house Anambra state gubernatorial elections, Chief Moghalu was the national secretary of Nigeria’s leading opposition party, the ANPP. This reporter caught up with the Nnewi- born father of five recently in London for a brief chat on Anambra state, Obasanjo, and other national issues.

UN: Chief, kedu? (How are you?), you are looking well; you do not look like somebody who has been through Anambra state’s political minefield.

UN: (laughter). By nature, I am a happy person, I am also happy that God is happy with me, that may be the reason for the way I am looking.

UN: Since the 2003 election fiasco, what has been keeping you busy?

UN: My business of course, I am back to doing that which I know how best to do, I am also spending quality time with my wife and kids.

UN: How would you describe your experience from the 2003 election?

UN: I would say terrible, especially when one has good intentions to serve the people, my campaign covered all the 21 local governments of the state and over 177 communities, in fact my campaign was grass roots oriented, and also covered the entire state. Peter Obi of APGA also ran a grass roots oriented campaign.
After all the hard work, it is quite disappointing that a group of people will sit down in their hotel rooms in Abuja and write the results of the elections, against the wishes of Anambra people, using the machinery of government. Their own version of the election results is in total disregard of the people’s wishes, it is also inhuman and wicked to declare such a result and sustain it.

UN: Sorry chief, but can you be a bit more specific, when you say that government machinery was used against you and your closest rival, Peter Obi, what do you mean?

UN: All the security agencies, INEC, the police, the army and others were deployed, it was a total collaboration. You can then appreciate the level of my frustration, for this reason I have often said that what happened in Anambra state is nothing but what can be described as a theatre of the absurd.

UN: how would describe the other candidates, in terms of the kind of campaign they ran.

UN: Well, some of them I know and some I don’t, but in all fairness, any individual who after a personal assessment and due consultation, decides to offer himself to come and serve his people should be considered a great person.

UN: So what is your relationship with governor Chris Ngige?

UN: I have known Chris Ngige for some time now, he is my friend and we will still remain friends, however our disagreement is on principle, I do not recognise his position as the governor of Anambra state because he didn’t win the election. It was a stolen mandate.

UN: Do you feel Ngige has robbed you?

UN: I feel robbed personally, and not only me, Anambra people as well, and the only way to assuage the peoples feelings is to restore back their mandate, by conducting a free and fair elections, if Chris Ngige wins, then I will support him, but if I win, or any other candidate wins, then he should be courageous to surrender and support the person.

UN: So do you feel pity for Chris Ngige considering his travails and difficulties with Chris Uba, his godfather?

UN: To be honest with you, I don’t feel pity for him, rather I sympathise with him and more importantly the Anambra people because what is happening to him is expected, after every robbery, there is always a disagreement at the point of sharing the booty, theirs will not be any different.

UN: How would you assess the social, economic and political climate in Anambra state?

UN: The Anambra people are like a conquered people, the state is like a keg of gun powder, anything can happen, if something happens fine, if nothing happens fine, and we can trace this problem back from 1999 to date. Our people are frustrated and we are looking up to God for intervention, under this circumstances, any thing done by the government no matter how small is considered an achievement especially in a situation where some of the gang are being accused from the inside. There is now a general feeling by our people to accept low standards, even though they are being short changed. In the midst of plenty, our people sure deserve better. Poverty should not be our portion.

UN: Chief we hear that Anambra state is broke, although you are not the governor but can you enlighten us a little, as a key player in the system, what is the current situation with Anambra state treasury?

UN: I don’t have current information as to our monthly allocation from the federation account, to both the state and local governments which is also now being controlled by the state government, not to talk of our internally generated revenue. Let us even assume that we are not getting so much, Anambra people deserve to know how much is coming in and how much is going out, and into what areas?

UN: The governor of Abia state publishes the state’s account monthly, would that be something you would have loved to do as governor, and also would that be something you will encourage governor Chris Ngige to do?

UN: Yes, there is nothing wrong with that as it promotes transparency and accountability, but I would have gone further to run a transparent and accountable government that would be open to public scrutiny

UN: How would you have done that?

UN: There are many ways, declaration of assets, subjecting every contract to due process, and also publishing of the state’s accounts, most importantly allowing the rule of law to prevail by obeying court orders in all circumstances.

UN: So is there hope for Anambra people?

UN: Yes, there is hope; with God there is hope for sure. I for one believe that Anambra state has great human and material resources, but the government must create the enabling environment for the people to thrive and for the state to flourish and occupy its rightful position in the committee of states in Nigeria, if the government does its part, I am sure that Anambra people will do theirs.

UN: How can Anambra people in the diaspora be part of this process?

UN: You must understand that our people look up to Anambra people in the diaspora as role models; some how there is a great expectation that Anambra people in the diaspora can influence the political and socio-economic situation both in the state and in the country. You can also attract foreign investors to the state, but like I said the government must create the enabling environment, for example how quickly can the diasporas secure industrial sites in awka? How safe is the environment for the diasporas, after living in safe countries with minimal crime, they should at least expect a safer state, diasporas can also mobilise themselves and form political groups. They can stand for elections, they can vote and be voted for. So the Anambra diasporas are a big and important part of this process, in fact I am discussing with a group of diasporas at the moment both in London and America concerning the way forward for the future of Anambra state, I am always open to further consultations with our people both in Europe, Asia, America and in other parts of the world. I believe that if we all join hands, we can reclaim our state and restore it to its pristine glory.

UN: Chief, what is your assessment of what is going on in Abuja at the moment, regarding the president’s war on corruption?

UN: The president’s war on corruption is commendable and should be supported by every Nigerian.

UN: Do you subscribe to this school of thought that the war on corruption is being targeted most especially against Ndigbo, as is being claimed in certain quarters?

UN: No, I don’t agree with that school of thought, I have always said that corruption has no tribe, be it Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Efik, Ibibio, Itsekeri, Fulani etc. a corrupt man is a corrupt man.

UN: It has been widely reported that you are a friend of the Wabaras, do you feel pity for the ex- senate president.

UN: I feel embarrassed by the whole incident, most especially for my friend Marc Wabara, but my own position is that the ex-senate president (Adolphus Wabara) and all those connected with the scandal should be given a chance of fair hearing to defend themselves, doing that will be part of the democratic reform process.

UN: You seem to live a very quite and simple family life, most people hardly know anything about your family, would you like to tell us a little about your family?

UN: Well, to God be the glory. That’s to be expected of a simple Christian family, I am married to a beautiful woman (nnenna), and we are blessed with five wonderful children, 2 boys and 3 girls. We couldn’t ask for more. My wife has been a great pillar of support.

UN: What does your wife think of your involvement in politics considering that in our own part of the world, it is still considered a dirty game?

UN: She shares my passion for service to the down trodden and to humanity, but at the same time she feels disappointed with the system, but since it is a matter of for- better- for -worse, she will always go with me, and prayerfully too. God has always used her in every situation and I am most grateful to God for her.

UN: Political analysts were quite surprised that you (a young Igbo man) became the national secretary, and in that regard the chief operating officer of the ANPP, a party viewed in the south as a northern party, how were you able to break into the northern circle?

UN: Firstly, contrary to assumptions, ANPP is a national party and not a northern party, with presence in all the 36 states of the federation including Abuja, adequately represented in the national assembly, though without governors in the south for reasons Nigerians know. Having said that I have goodwill in the north, I have friends in the north who supported my aspirations when I declared my aspirations to be the national secretary of the ANPP, they worked for it, coupled with the support of our governors and prominent leaders of the party across the country who endorsed my candidature, trusting that I will do a good job, for which I am confident I didn’t let them down during my tenure.

UN: Is it safe to say or to assume that your friendship with the north can also be seen as something positive that will benefit Ndigbo in the future, being that you have become sort of a bridge between Ndigbo and their northern brothers?

UN: Certainly, such relationships matter and are important in politics; we should be able to reach out to people from other parts of Nigeria in the overall interest of the Igbo nation

UN: Do you feel that certain people may misunderstand you, and eventually view your relationship with the north as being too close for comfort, in the light of the several clamours for an Igbo president in 2007?

UN: I don’t mind being misunderstood, but the truth of the matter is that Ndigbo cannot exist in isolation, if we are sincerely desirous of producing a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2007. I am sure you are aware that both the northerners, the south westerners, the south southerners and the northerners, everybody who is a Nigerian and is qualified to vote will participate in choosing a president for Nigeria in 2007, if we start this early to isolate such people because they are not Igbo, how would you expect them to trust you, and that takes us back to my initial position that we must build bridges across tribes, religion, culture and so on in order to realise our dream.

UN: You set a precedent by being the first Anambra man to be appointed a Director- General in Abia state by the then governor, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, how did that happen and what is your relationship today with Dr. Onu?

UN: In a nutshell, I played an active role in his emergence as governor of Abia state, in the course of which he identified my potentials and defied critics by appointing me as a DG; I believe that I did not disappoint him. Regarding my relationship with him, it has remained very cordial, if anything we are getting closer and closer. I also see myself as a detribalised Nigerian, I am from Anambra state, grew up in Aba (Abia state), schooled in Enugu, I have business interests in Lagos and the north. My appointment as DG in Abia state shows that Nigerians can actually excel anywhere they find themselves in the country if given the opportunity. That initiative by governor Onu has paid off and is now being copied as non-indigenes are now being appointed into key government positions in several states.

UN: Chief, I know that it may still be a bit premature but what role are you going to play in the electoral process of 2007?

UN: You have already answered the question by saying that it is still premature but what I don’t do is play god, however I can assure you that God willing, I will be involved.

UN: Thank you for your time and best wishes.

UN: Thank you too and God bless you.


uchenworah@yahoo.com

11th April 2005

Posted by Administrator at April 12, 2005 11:43 AM

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