‘South East is benefitting from Buhari’s government like other zones’

Chief George Moghalu
Chief George Moghalu

Chief George Moghalu is the National Auditor of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In the interview in Abuja, he speaks about the election of leaders of the National Assembly, the South-East’s status in the ruling party, need for electoral reforms, and change of service chiefs, among other burning issues.

T he emergence of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly seems to be rancour-free in the history of the ruling party, taking into cognizance what happened in 2015. What was the magic?

The  emergence of our leadership in the National Assembly was rancour-free as a consequence of wide consultations and mutual respect. The party consulting widely, the party reaching out to as many stakeholders as possible, taking into account the views of our leaders, the views of everybody and at the end of the day, we got a peaceful exercise.

In the eyes of many people, the south-easterners are losers in the National Assembly principal offices. Do you also share that sentiment?

For me, it is not about losers. The important thing here is what role have we played. We have the expected number of legislators from the South-East. But there is a mix here. In both the opposition and the party in government, we have a mix. But we of the APC stock did not play right politics. That is understandable. But that does not deny us what we are entitled to have. 

We have positions in the National Assembly. But like I said in one of my interviews, humans are selfish politically speaking. I, now as George Moghalu, if you ask me what is my wish in this democracy, I will like the president, the vice president, the Senate president and the deputy to come from my local government, if possible from my town. That is the human being in everybody.

But it is not possible because the reality of the moment is that these positions have to be distributed to balance power, and that is exactly what is going on now and that is why you have consultations. Today, you have the Senate president from the North-East, the deputy is from South-South, the Speaker is from South-West, the deputy from North-Central. Otherwise, they should have been from the same place. If it is about number, now for example, the North-West can take president, Senate president, Speaker. Kano alone has 24 House of Representatives members in our party.

So, if it is a function of votes, the North-West alone has over 100 of legislators. If it is about number now, both the Speaker, the deputy, the Senate president, the deputy, all will come from North-West. But because we understand that in a multi-party democracy, in a multi-cultural society like our own, multi-ethnic society like our own, you have to distribute these positions so that at the end of the day they can also translate to support for the party in the future because elections are continuous. After 2019, 2023 is coming.

The outcome of the 2019 elections has shown that there is need for electoral reforms. Now that the APC has control of the National Assembly, should we expect major electoral reforms before 2023 elections?

For me as a person looking at the politics, we keep improving by the day, and we keep learning by the day. Our democracy, our electoral processes are not the best as you can get today, but we believe that it is on the road to improvement. After every election, we keep improving. So, it is incumbent on us to keep looking inwards with a view to improving on the process.

If there is anything I constantly remember in all the speeches Mr President has made it is that he wants to bequeath a legacy of free, fair, credible elections by the time he leaves office and I think it is a good to achieve that legacy. There is need for a constant review of the processes so that very soon we will be able to arrive at our desired destination.

The party has set up a committee on true federalism, should we expect something?

Certainly, the party set up a committee on true federalism, they worked, they submitted their report to the party and the party is making consultations as regards to the report. Because it has a process, anything you have to do that has to do with constitutional amendment has a process. So, the party will look at it and send it back to the executive. If there are observations we have or views we want to canvass, it still has to go through either private members’ bill or executive bill because either has to end in the National Assembly because they have the final say when it comes to constitution amendment.

On the need for electoral reform, one major issue was that of vote buying to the extent that people are now afraid that if you don’t have money you may not get elected?

Vote buying is something that is not good and everybody, including INEC, has consistently criticised it. In our party, we are sincerely against it. In fact, we want to discourage it completely so that credible people who may not have what it takes in terms of resources but they are credible, they are wanted by their people, such people should be encouraged to run and win elections. But when you look at the expenditure profile of these elections, you get so scared that you may not even have enough courage to start.

I agree with you and I agree with those who have been canvassing it that there is need to make our electoral processes as cheap as possible.

You have spoken about the promise of the APC to the South-East people and two major items you mentioned that no other government has given to the South-East but this government, are the Second Niger Bridge and the Enugu-Onitsha expressway. How would the south easterners appreciate this government in terms of its legacies?

These two projects you mentioned are very key strategic projects that affect the entire South-East and that affect our economy. If you remember also, this present government has design for the rail line. The South-East is sufficiently accommodated. That is something we are happy about. I also mentioned that Aba-Ikot-Ekpene road that has been awarded. I also reminded you that the Umuahia-Ikot-Ekpene road has been awarded and the contract is ongoing.

The Social Investment Programme, we are beneficiaries. I reminded you that the last trip the vice president made to Anambra State, I had the privilege of going with him where he went to flag off the Trader-moni programme. We are all part of it and the South-East is gaining as much as other zones are gaining. One thing unique about this government and you must give them that credit for it is that every zone is being addressed, depending on their immediate needs. For me, the fact that this government has dedicated itself and resources to ensuring the delivery of the second Niger Bridge, I’m eternally grateful to it.

The project is about N230 plus billion and I remember I said by the time we went there the engineers said that by the end of June they would have finished the underwater structure and the pillars will be out. And by 30th of June, you confirmed it that the pillars were out. It is no more a case of design; it is no more a case of we will, we will; it is not a case of lying. At a point, it became a political issue of flag-off. Every four years, they will put canopy there and flag it off. Now, the project is ongoing because the president and this administration are committed to it, for which we are grateful.

There are so many things which the government has done for the South-East and I think our people are beginning to appreciate it. If in 2015, 198,000 voted for us and this time around four hundred and eighty something thousand, we may not have reached where we want to be, we may not have contributed as much as we desired but it goes to show that people are beginning to see that things we said earlier.

Could that be what you are expecting at the Next Level?

A lot is coming at the ‘Next Level’. The truth about it is that the government has a budget, the government is committed to delivering on its budget. In the course of the campaign, the president made promises and we are committed to them. As a nation, we should be grateful to God that we have a man who is very concerned about what he says.

Mr President is not free with words and anytime he makes commitment, he bends over backwards to deliver on these commitments. For me, that is all I need from my leader, that when he says I’m going to do something, he will do it, not under compulsion, but he will be satisfied in doing it. That is what I expect of my leader. Not a situation where he will make promise and not deliver, it doesn’t show leadership. Here, we have a man that if he says something, he believes in it, he works on it and delivers on it.

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