George Moghalu is the National Auditor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and aspirant for the party’s governorship ticket in Anambra State. In this interview with newsmen, he expresses reservation about the agitation for an independent Biafran Republic by separatist groups like the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), declaring that such agitation will undermine the South-East quest for the Presidency. TAIWO AMODU brings excerpts:
WHAT are those things you feel aren’t being done normally in Anambra State that you want to correct when you become the governor, considering the fact that the incumbent governor can still seek a fresh mandate?
I try to use an analogy to explain the situation in Anambra State. When you come into a dark room, if you come in with a candle, there is light and there is illumination. If you bring in a bulb, there is an improvement on the candle. If you bring in floodlight, you have greater illumination. It looks like the day. So, that’s exactly the situation in Anambra. What some people see is a candle-lit situation because I believe that the potentialities of the state to be number one in this country is there. But first we need to create an enabling environment for the private sector to grow. We need to build on our potential to expand the place. We need to change the narrative.
For me, there is quite a lot to be done in Anambra, in terms of governance, infrastructural development, expanding our agricultural base to address unemployment. This is why I have taken time to build up a manifesto which I am going to sell to the people. I have said we must de-emphasise oil if we really want to drive this economy and that’s because with our emphasis on certificates, today people buy the certificates which they cannot defend. We must target a situation where we train people so that they can be self-reliant and have the capacity to employ people in a very short time. We have a lot to do in our state. Our infrastructure is totally decayed. Never mind what you see on television. There is quite a lot to be done.
How confident are you with APC in this forthcoming election? Just a few days ago, your party lost an election in Osun State. The Anambra election will be the next. Do you think APC is strong in the state?
I keep telling people, for every election apart from the party, individual candidates you present have a very strong role to play. For APC as a party, we are very acceptable in Anambra. So, when they are looking at APC as a party, they look at individuals that represent APC. I know I have a credible record that Anambra people can trust. Today, I am seen as a credible politician. I am seen as somebody who is consistent, as somebody whom when I say something, I stick to it and whenever I enter into a commitment I do everything humanly possible to keep to the agreement. So, it is about the person and the party. So, when you join the credibility of the candidate and that of the party you have a candidate that can be easily sold to the people. That’s what I am selling.
How do you intend to diversify the economy of your state, to earn for it foreign exchange?
We can keep depending on federal allocation. It doesn’t make political sense, it doesn’t make economic sense because today, we are a mono-cultural economy and because of that it is controlled by external forces. We don’t determine the price of oil and when the external forces forced down the price of oil, it affects our economy. So everyone rushes to Abuja every month, but I don’t think it makes sense. So, agriculture must be given priority. Yes, Anambra has the potential to grow rice to make reasonable impact. So, we must expand that, not only production but exporting our produced rice. How do you do this? We must try to industrialise the sector so that people as they produce, you buy up from them. We must have a commodity market situation so that you can encourage local production. But when the conditions aren’t there, there is the likelihood that it will not grow.
We need to get the private sector involved. We must create the enabling environment for them to grow and to do this, we must address some basic issues. We must look at road, power infrastructure, cost of capital. These are areas government has a strong role and if government does its bit, I am sure the operating space will be conducive and we can have rice production at a considerable cost. So, I think agriculture is the way to go.
Ahead of this election, a separatist group in the South-East, IPOB, has vowed to disrupt the election. As an aspirant, aren’t you worried?
The issue of not wanting Biafra and not wanting election, I think it has been sufficiently addressed by various Igbo organisations. Ohanaeze has come out to make its position clear. What message are we sending when we say we don’t want to have election in Anambra? One state in our zone? It doesn’t make sense. I believe that there will be election and I believe that the Ohanaeze and other Igbo leaders have come out to say that the elections will hold in the South-East. I am sure that the Federal Government has the capacity to provide enough security for people in Anambra.
The APC leaders set up a committee to interface with aspirants ahead of the party primary. Can we have an update on how far they have gone? There is also the insinuation that zoning doesn’t favour you in Anambra. What is your reaction?
To put the first leg of your question clearer, it is the South-East APC leadership that set up that committee to look at how to run the Anambra election, interface with all the aspirants with a view to first of all making sure that we have a common relationship, making sure that everybody understands that it isn’t a do-or-die thing, that we have relationship that is beyond elections and I think so far, it has been so good. We have met with them, others have been invited, we have also met together. I think they are sincere and they are committed. They all wish that we win Anambra election. They see the assignment given to them as a serious one. So, I wish them well and I want to assure everyone that every support required of me to make sure that the committee succeeds in this assignment, I will be willing to offer.
Then coming to the issue of zoning. We have tried to address this issue in many scenarios. First of all, Anambra leadership has never met to do zoning in the state. Somebody asked the question: that the North has produced two terms and I say, did those in the South do two terms? Chinwoke Mbadinuju did one term and he comes from the south. After four years, he wasn’t allowed to do a second term. The governorship was given to our brother and leader in the state, Senator Chris Ngige. Thereafter, from Chris Ngige to Peter Obi. Between Ngige and Obi, they did almost 12 years, and it left central and came to the North. North, by November 18 will have done four years. So, if you must talk about equity and fairness, it should return back to south for south to complete their term, then it goes back to north. It equates to the same position of the south. At that point, we can now agree on zoning and then it can commence. You cannot move the goal post in the middle of the match!
What is your take on Igbo presidency?
On the issue of Igbo presidency, why not? By the time the presidency leaves the North after eight years, what will happen is that honestly speaking every zone in this country has produced the president except the South-East and I think that we the leaders of South-East should go back to the drawing table to plot, to think, to work out how it is going to manifest, because we are looking at the president of Nigeria of Igbo extraction. For us to achieve that, we must talk to the northerners, we need to talk to the South-West, we need to talk to every Nigerian to see it from our perspective. If we should be talking about that, I don’t think it makes sense for us to be talking about secession, because they are two straight lines that can never meet.