Chief George Moghalu is the National Auditor of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He speaks with KOLAWOLE DANIEL on a number of issues in the polity.
Before the 2015 general election, your party made many promises to Nigerians, will you say your party is living up to expectation?
Yes. We appreciate the challenges; we appreciate that we have not got to the place where we expect to be or where we intend to be. But we are confident that we are on the right track. When you look at all that was said during the campaign, we took our campaign from three perspectives and these were the issues our presidential candidate and now Mr President, emphasised. The issues of security, anti-corruption fight and the economy.
You will agree with me that he has done very well on the issue of security. One of the indices you can use as a basis to assess his performance was that before he was elected into office, during the time of the presidential campaign, 14 local governments were in total control of the insurgents in the North-East. Today, normalcy is returning to the North-East to the extent that people are returning to their ancestral homes from where they fled to. Yes, I agree that in the course of one year plus that our party has been in government, new challenges came up in the area of security. Issues like the militancy in the Niger Delta and the issue of herdsmen, but the truth is that the government is committed and determined to make sure that these things are issues of the past and that we address the issue of insecurity.
If you look at the morale in the military and other security agencies, it is a lot higher than it used to be because of the emphasis the government placed on their welfare. Things are no longer like they were was when the money earmarked for the security agencies is diverted for other purposes. We have done quite well in that aspect. On the issue of anti-corruption, if I may quote the president, he said sometimes back that, “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria” and that is a truism, because we have lost a lot on the altar of corruption. A lot of damage has been inflicted on this country. Otherwise, we won’t be hearing mind-boggling stories that we hear as to how much money people collected and diverted. As expected in any given situation, corruption is fighting back, but the government commitment cannot be wished away and a reasonable promise has been made in that regard.
On the economy, we appreciate the challenge Nigerians are facing now, but this is the consequence of carelessness of the past and failure of leadership in the past few decades. Past leaders refused to address the issues and were busy throwing away the resources that God gave us, instead of applying them to address our infrastructural challenges and building concrete structure for the future. They didn’t even think of saving. Few years back, oil was selling for over a $100 per barrel unlike when the president was sworn into office when oil came down to about $20 per barrel. This situation affected the resources available to the Federal Government. Apart from that, other expenses of government were also cut short. But these are not excuses to say that government will not be able to do what it promised.
But some people believe that the country is in recession because government has not done what it promised on the economy. What is your take?
That is not true. We are in recession as a consequence of the fallings of the past. Be that as it may and in line with the promise of Mr President, it will only be for brief period. That is why we want to borrow money to reflate the economy and I am confident that government will address the issue of recession. Different palliatives have been put in place, like school feeding, women empowerment and other efforts.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo spoke against the plan to borrow about $30 billion to finance infrastructural deficit. Do you think such step is necessary right now?
When people say you can’t borrow, what is the next option? We are looking at how to reflate the economy. How do we get funds now to finance government projects? The problem with borrowing, even in ordinary life or the private sector, is when you borrow and use it for what it is not intended for or when you borrow and invest it on projects that are not self-sufficient in returns. But here, government is planning to borrow for infrastructural development and in the course of doing that, it will pump money into the economy and you get people employed and the economy will be generally reflated.
Looking at the APC National Working Committee, it appears that there is a division…
I am not aware of that.
But there is a pointer in that direction…
No, I am not aware of that. There is no division in the NWC to the best of my knowledge. Like any human organisation, there could be disagreement or divergence of opinion.
Then why did the party suspend its deputy National Publicity Secretary?
A lot of people have asked me this question and I need to correct that error. The deputy National Publicity Secretary is not a member of the NWC.
But in the absence of the National Publicity Secretary, who should act in that capacity?
Our constitution is very clear about that. Having said that, I want to believe that though we are yet to consider the report, from the information available to me, there were petitions against him by his local chapter. In line with the constitution, the zonal office set up a panel: an investigative panel, which was in line with our constitution, to investigate that petition and those who wrote the petition were invited. He was also invited, but you and I read in papers where he said he would not appear before them. It was clear; the implication of non-appearance before a properly constituted authority means you accept all that was said. An opportunity was offered to him to counter all that was said against him or provide evidence to contradict the petition, but he refused that offer. Therefore, based on the evidence before the members of the committee, they recommended to the leadership of the party that he should be suspended. And the party at that level accepted the recommendation for the suspension and the report has been sent to the party’s NWC, though we are yet to deliberate on it. He still has a chance of petitioning the NWC, which will now look at it based on the information available. So, he has another opportunity, otherwise, the working committee is going to look at the report.
What is the relationship between the party and the National Assembly now?
Great. We have a very good relationship. I am not aware of any bad feeling.
But can you say that on the part of the presidency too?
I don’t see any problem. There is nothing wrong. I speak for myself, because I am not the spokesperson of the party. But I can tell you authoritatively that the relationship is good.
2019 is just by the corner and there are reports that some big wigs in the party are already planning to realign?
I have a heard the talks like you said, but I am not aware of it. If it is true, I wish them the best luck. For those of us in APC, we are here to stay. As far as I am concerned, APC is one strong and indivisible party and we will enter into the election in 2019 as a stronger party. For the moment, we are concerned mainly with addressing the challenges of governance; we are concerned with giving all we can to the executive, so that the promises we made can be fulfilled for the benefit of Nigerians. We are more concerned about how the people feel and not exactly what the politics will give for 2019. 2019 is still far away. Have we thought about those who will die before that day? Mind you, 24 hours in politics is a long time, because a lot of things can change within 24 hours. But I am convinced that government is committed to justifying the confidence of Nigerians who keyed into change mantra and remain faithful to it.
What is your take on the appointments made so far by the president?
They are fine. I am waiting to see people point out one or two people that were appointed but were not qualified.
What will you say about the rejection of list of non-career ambassadors by the Senate?
Some leaders of the party expressed concern and the president, being who he is and because he wants to make sure that things work well, accepted a review. That was why the papers reported that. The governors, the speaker, the senate president and vice-president all met to see how every interest would be accommodated. This is politics and it is about human interest. But the assurance here is that everyone will be carried along and every interest will be protected and the right people will be given the jobs.