Naira redesign policy good, but not well managed, says Moghalu
The Managing Director/CEO of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief George Moghalu, in an interview with MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR said currency redesign is desirable but the handling of the policy created loopholes, leading to the sufferings and anger among Nigerians.
The build-up to the 2023 general elections has been mired by internal contradictions, especially in the two major political parties; can we say that governance at the national level is declining?
Yes, this is a demonstration of the fact that you are dealing with human beings. One thing you must understand is that human elements must play a role when you’re talking about governance, managing people’s feelings, expectations and their ambitions. So, such issues must crop up. Currency swap issue is important, as it is a national concern that affects everybody, APC inclusive. I think there is actually nothing much there, other than the fact that some people feel that the timing is not very good. But there is a general consensus of opinions that there is the need for the process. I have not seen anybody who is opposed to the policy, but what I hear people say is that the process is being mismanaged. But then, I think that the problem can be easily rectified and I believe government is on top of the situation.
Your presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu and other top leaders of your party, such as Governor Nasir El-rufa’i of Kaduna State say it is targeted at the party’s presidential candidate. Do you agree?
The important thing is that the presidential candidate of our party is a human being, before he became the candidate; he also has interests and concerns. From what he said, he is concerned about the masses, the feelings of the people with regards to the implementation of the policy. He did not criticise the policy, he only complained about the process of implementation of the policy and I think he did so in the exercise of his fundamental human rights. A few others have also expressed similar concerns about the implementation and government is taking notice of the concerns with a view to addressing them accordingly.
Fuel scarcity, which Buhari promised to address in 2015, appears to have worsened under his leadership as president and minister of petroleum, what does it speak about his leadership capacity?
Let us be fair to Mr. President. In the course of his administration, he has done a few things that show that he is a statesman, determined and committed to pursue any agenda he is committed to. Don’t forget that this is the President that signed into law, the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and one of the features of the law is that he has liberalised the petroleum sector and like we all know, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) limited, is no more a government agency. It is now a limited liability company that has to be operated within the norms of the business tradition in a competitive economy like we have. Yes, we all expected that there will be fuel every where by now and NNPC has come out to offer explanations why the challenges exist and the efforts it is making to ensure availability of the products.
In this instance, we must not lose sight of the human factors, blames have been laid at various sources and on various tables as to who and who are causing the bottlenecks, but the long and short of the whole thing is that the issues are being addressed. This is not about the President as a person, because he has provided the necessary environment for the industry to grow. We need to encourage and support him as he continues to drive the process.
This underscores what his critics fault in his leadership style, that once he assigns responsibilities, he does not monitor performance?
I don’t agree with you. People are punished, questioned for not doing what they are assigned to do and examples abound. Besides, the act of giving somebody a job and allowing him to do the duties must be acknowledged because if somebody gives you a job, that means he believes you can do it. And giving you the freedom to do the job is something to be commended and not vilified. That is not to say, however, that there should not be checks and balances, circumstances where people are called to order. What I’m saying is that people have been questioned in performing their duties. So, it may not be totally correct to say that he does not do follow up thereby giving his appointees the latitude to do whatever they like.
Still on currency swap, there has been blame game between CBN and commercial banks over the availability of the new naira notes and the President is watching, is that not pointer to a leadership failure?
Don’t you see what has been happening? Some bank executives have been exposed; in fact, a few officials have been arrested for hoarding the new notes. In this instance, who do you blame? Is it the CBN that claimed that it released the money to the banks or the banks that claimed they did not get the money? So, the ones that were hoarded that led to the people being arrested, how did they get those ones, did they print them by themselves? The bank managers that were arrested by either ICPC or EFCC, where did they get new notes from, and who is now telling truth? If you did not get the money, you will not hoard it, and that is why the security agencies have been able to trace them. So, I feel that President Buhari is being unfairly maligned and vilified by critics. We must give him some credit, but that is not to say that we have got to our Eldorado. Even the President acknowledges the fact that Nigeria is a work in progress, that no one person has solution to all our problems. Even if we had 10 terms, at the end of those terms, there will still be issues to be resolved.
There is no doubt that Nigerians are hungry and angry as a result of the hardship they are currently experiencing under this administration. How confident are you that your party will come out victorious in the forthcoming general elections?
The mistake that a lot of us, especially, the elite make is to think that Nigerians are dumb heads. Nigerians are intelligent enough and they know the truth. I’m sure they are going to judge our party based on the truth and the practical demonstration of what we have been able to do in the last seven and half to eight years. I must admit though, that power belongs to God and He gives it to whom He pleases at His own time.
What is the state of APC in the Southeast?
Like in other zones in the country, we’re pushing very hard. Everybody is working hard towards winning the elections. Everybody is working extremely hard, and Everybody wants to deliver his own area. We have gone to the market with our report card; that is the difference between us and the other parties. While we are coming to showcase what we have been able to achieve for Nigerians in the face of obvious challenges and constraints, other parties are coming to tell Nigerians what they will do.
Are you confident that Nigerians will be convinced about that your report card?
Yes, I believe that our report card is good enough to attract the goodwill of Nigerians through their votes, if we are honest about it. We have not reached that Eldorado, but we are on the road to our desired destination.
Some APC leaders stayed away at the presidential campaign rally in Enugu. Is that not an indication of what some see as obvious case of disunity within your rank and how do you think you can win election in that atmosphere?
Like I keep saying, a political party is a living organisation because you’re dealing with human beings and as many humans that you have, you will have many interests, expectations and ambitions. So, it is a case of how you manage those interests to achieve common objectives, because a party is formed and nurtured for the purpose of wining elections. It is a matter of how we manage ourselves as leaders. Remember every state its own peculiarities because we all have individual challenges. So, as we manage our individual differences, manage the elite who give political directives, I’m sure we are going to resolve all the perceived differences because the common denominator of our desire is that our party should form the next government at all levels and we’re working hard to achieve that.
You have Mr. Peter Obi from your zone, contesting the presidency on the platform of Labour Party (LP), don’t you feel threatened by his rising popularity?
Naturally, it is expected that he would present a considerable challenge because he comes from Southeast, just like other candidates also come from somewhere and you cannot afford to ignore them in their local areas of political influence. Especially, being that South East has been clamouring to have a shot at the presidency Obi will do well there and even our leaders realise this fact, and consider it a major challenge to the party in the zone. In fact, I would be fooling myself if I say that it is not a major challenge and I won’t fool myself like that.
Don’t you think that people like you would be considered as betraying the Igbo cause because you are not supporting Obi’s ambition?
Let me say that for me as person, you know my political trajectory, I have not changed political party, I’m among the very few politicians who have remained true to APC. I played a role in its formation, I was privileged to be elected as its first National Auditor, re-elected for the second term before Mr. President graciously offered me this position that made me to vacate that office. So, everybody knows exactly where I stand on this divide and at this point in my political career, I cannot be seen to be an inconsistent politician. I will remain with my party win or lose, and that is my character.
Are you campaigning for APC in the Southeast?
Why not? I’m already doing that and those people who believe in me as a person, who believe in what I stand for, which are good governance, sincerity of purpose, commitment to help the poor certainly will still go with me. I have been around.
You aspired to be the governor of Anambra State and when things did not go your way, you went to court against the party’s directive or instruction, when will the elite start respecting party supremacy?
It is not about being patient; it is about making a rule and breaking the rule with impunity. You cannot set a standard and then break it with impunity, in total disregard for the feelings of members of the party, who laid our lives and played various roles in building the party, it’s not done that way. I said you did not do primary, do the primary if I win, to God be the glory, and if I lose to God be the glory. But they just sat down somewhere and wrote the result and expected me to accept it, I said no, I wouldn’t accept it, and if you don’t do the right thing, I would challenge it in court and I challenged it. The court agreed with me that the right thing was not done and nullified the primary. They went on appeal and the Appeal Court aligned with the judgment of the High Court. They went to the Supreme Court, which also affirmed the judgment of the two earlier courts that I was right. For me, I have been vindicated that the party has to learn a lesson or two from there because even if we had won the election eventually, the judgment would have nullified it because we had no candidate ab-initio. The right thing was not done.
If the right thing was done, anybody who loses will be happy to say I lost in a free, fair and credible process. Even if he wins, those who lost to him will have moral consciousness to now join him for the main election. But you allowed us to waste our time, resources and burnt our goodwill, built momentum only for you to sit down and say that the 13 of us don’t appear to worth anything. You just write the results and hand-picked a candidate, that the rest of you can go to hell. I can’t go to hell like that and I refused to go to hell and rather went to court.
What advice do you have for political parties concerning internal party democracy?
My view is that parties should allow for internal democracy, let us build a strong democratic culture, let’s encourage people to participate, so that when somebody wins an election, he should be seen to have won clean, clear and those who participated with him will be willing to team up with him because in every contest somebody must win and somebody must lose. If I had participated in a fairly organised contest, I would have loved to work hard to ensure that my party wins. The other 12 persons, I’m sure, would also work hard to make sure that our party wins, but when you ignored us and wrote the result and imposed somebody on us, we said no, it would not happen. So, instead of working for the party, everybody pulled away and the party had to crash and we all saw the result. Even in that primary you claimed to have organised, the result you wrote showed that, altogether there were over 300,000 votes and the purported winner got over 230,000 votes, but when we went into the main election, all the party got was just 41,000 votes.