Interview Chief George Moghalu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress was until recently the secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party merger committee. He was also the Director General of the Chris Ngige Campaign Organisation for the November 16, 2013 governorship election that held in Anambra State. In this Interview with Charles Onyekamuo, Moghalu speaks on issues of national concern. Excerpts: A lot of PDP members, including governors have been defecting to the All Progressive Congress. Does your party see any danger in managing the influx? APC is a brand, and what is happening is expected because the situation where we are today in the country, people have always clamoured for a viable alternative. So it is expected because APC as a party is seen as that alternative and people are moving into APC in droves. There is nothing actually wrong with that because a political party is like a church or mosque where you don’t restrict people from coming in, only that you must have rules and regulation and anybody coming into the party must accept. Are you one of those who believe the PDP as a party has collapsed because of its internal crisis? I wouldn’t say that the PDP as a party has collapsed because they have government at the centre and they have government in some states. At the same time, sight should not be lost to the fact that there are some problems because of the vantage position they are occupying. That is not to say that the party has collapsed. The party is still there as a strong platform and an alternative also to the APC. For me, I don’t wish them collapsing, I wish them to be there so that some of us who have always wished that we have two strong political parties will have it in place. There are upcoming issues that will definitely be a test case for the survival of APC. I am sure you know that the interim committee of APC now in place will snowball into an elective convention for the party. Also the Ekiti State governor His Excellency, Kayode Fayemi and his Osun State counterpart are up for re-election in 2014. One of the biggest test cases for APC was the Anambra election and the party lost. Can you actually take us through what happened? I agree with you that the interim leadership of the party from the timetable that has been released will soon commence membership registration. From there to the issue of congresses that will culminate in a national convention where a substantive leadership will be elected and put in place. Regarding the Anambra elections, I make bold to say, being an insider and at the forefront of what happened that there was practically no election in Anambra State. To say APC lost the election is totally unacceptable because it is not true. We found ourselves in a situation where both the government at the centre and in the state collaborated with the supposedly Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to manipulate the entire voting process with a view to installing a pre-determined candidate which I consider a betrayal of people’s trust and confidence, even the international community. What happened in Anambra State cannot be considered an election but a charade. If they want to test popularity of APC in the state, let them organize free, fair and credible elections. Let them stop deceiving themselves by saying there was an election. How can you say there was an election when the voters register had no integrity? What happened in Anambra was not an election because if it was an election, Jega won’t come out to say there were issues. So there was no election in Anambra State. What happened is not a basis for any test to determine the strength or the capacity of APC. If that is what they intend to do in Ekiti and Osun States, God help them because I can guarantee you that our democracy will not survive it. The concern of a lot of your supporters is in the funding and mutual suspicions amongst all the parties that merged. Is it true that Ngige had problems of funding prior to the election? I make bold to say that funding wasn’t a problem. In actual fact, what are you doing with the funding? Your funding is to handle your logistics and we had no problem or challenge handling our logistics. One thing about an election is that any amount of money you put into it will surely finish, whether it is in billions or trillions. It is just for the organization to plan properly, applying the funds available to their specific needs to achieve desired results and that is exactly what we did. So funding wasn’t an issue at all. Let’s look at APC at the national level with regards to the 2015 general election. Most people feel that APC is a paper tiger, just blowing hot air? APC as a party is fully prepared for election. We only keep throwing this challenge to the establishment: give us the enabling environment; we want an INEC that is truly independent, committed to delivering on their mandate of providing free, fair credible election. Their attitude must change if they are sincere about giving us a credible election in 2015. We are asking the security agencies to see themselves more as Nigerians who have a responsibility to Nigerians more than an individual or a political party who certainly will go one day; they must be neutral. Whatever it will take, I am among those who will continue to champion it, I know the party is focused on it, there must be internal democracy in APC as a political party, and we must have internal democracy, create the enabling environment. Everybody has to have access to power, if you are the popular candidate of your people, you must be allowed to contest election, whoever wins primaries should be the candidate, whoever shows interest to contest for any office, please allow him to contest. The moment we agree on all these things, I am sure we will be on cruise control and the party will continue to grow. The only time we are going to have problem is when we deviate from these principles. What can you say to the beliefs that APC is ideologically bankrupt and has become an all-comers affair? If you read our manifesto and constitution you will understand that basically progressivism and the welfare of the people are the two key cardinal points in the party. As to people who are coming in, if you are willing to follow the rules, you are welcome because we already have a manifesto written down and we agree that everybody must implement this manifesto and the manifesto covers every aspect of our national life. Ahead the APC national convention, speculations are rife that people like you are gunning for the removal of the zoning process to enable you run for the chairmanship of the party. It is true? Well, speculation is part of political life; anybody can speculate anything. I believe there is need for zoning so that every interest will be accommodated. As for the speculation, I like you to know that once you are in the open, anybody can say anything about you. But I believe my main concern today is that we should first build a strong party before we start talking of who aspires to be what. When the convention comes, we will be able to take our decision, but what I can tell you confidently is that there is consultation going on everywhere. Do you share the view that the president may have finally had a hold on the security of the country? We have had a lot of issues on security, but that we did not have any incidence in very strategic places in the country during this holiday is a welcome development and I am happy about it. This is one area nobody wants to play politics with because you can’t talk about driving an economy in an insecure environment. For me, anything that can be done, any sacrifice that can be made to make the country safe should be of primary consideration because I see it as a primary responsibility of government and I welcome it. So we will keep praying that everybody concerned will live up to expectation and live up to their responsibilities. Still on security, INEC has said the states under emergency rule may not be up for elections in 2015; what is your take on this? It is a joke because like the governor of Borno said which makes so much sense, the moment you say that you have given in to the insurgents, you have confirmed that they are in charge. You don’t do such a thing and more so, with the recent local government election in Yobe State which was reported as free, fair and peaceful with a large turnout has made nonsense of that assertion. So I think that we should not think about that. INEC should prepare and go and conduct elections in those states at the proper time.
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Interview George Okoh spoke with a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, on various issues of national interest. Excerpts: What is your take on the proposed national conference? We just keep panicking in Nigeria over nothing. For me, the framework for national conference has not undermined the […]
INTERVIEW Supervising Minister of Education Nyesom Wike speaks on the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, the 2015 general election, and the crisis in the Rivers State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party, among other issues, in this interview with Jaiyeola Andrews. Excerpts: ASUU has been on strike for over four months […]