Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and a governorship aspirant in Anambra State, on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief George Muoghalu speaks on the 2023 Igbo Presidency, the 2021 Anambra governorship election, among other salient issues.
As an Igbo man and member of the ruling party, what is the fate of the South East regarding Igbo presidency in 2023?
I have continued to say that power is not given; it is taken. People keep talking about Igbo presidency, presidency and presidency. For me, power is not given; power is taken. One thing we should know about democracy is that it is a game of number. Igbo really desire to have president; who wouldn’t want that? Personally, I would want the presidency to be allotted to my immediate family, because of the positive impact it will make in my life and my immediate environment. Igbo people are agitating for the 2023 presidency, as a way of addressing what they perceive as marginalisation. Good! Everybody has the right to make demands. But we are faced with a situation where we need to work hard to grab power. Igbo people need to sit down at home, plan, get ourselves organised; then, extend our link to other regions. As we talk about Nigerian President of Igbo extraction, a man from Rivers State has a role to play; a man from Sokoto has a role to play; a man from Zamfara, Calabar and other parts of Nigeria will play their different roles to make it a reality. This is because, we are not looking for President of Igbo nation. We are looking for President of Nigeria; but of Igbo extraction. So, the question now is what are the Igbo doing to engage these other nationalities and groups that have roles to play in the actualisation of Igbo Presidency? We need to engage them! We must not lose sight of the fact that in our constitution, we do not have any provision for rotational presidency. Also, we do not have any provision for independent candidacy. Any presidential candidate the South East will present must come under a party platform. All of us are aware today that there are only two credible platforms under which a person can stand for the presidency in Nigeria, based on empirical evidence. These platforms are the All Progressive Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So, to achieve the 2023 Igbo Presidency, we must sit down at home and plot how to win primaries and field Igbo people in the two political platforms. We must think of how to win the primaries to secure the tickets of the two major political parties? When this is done, the presidency will be achieved. Igbo Presidency is not what we should sit down at home to shout and make noise about. It does not require noise making; it requires strategic planning and thinking, so that we can achieve our desire.
What informed your decision to succeed Chief Willie Obiano as governor of Anambra State?
I am desirous of running for the governorship seat of Anambra State because, I am convinced that I will provide better alternative. I believe I can provide what it takes to give our people better and correct governance; because, I know what to do to change the story of Anambra State. There are things they are doing today at the Government House that I will not do the way they’re doing it. For every sector of the economy, I have a programme. For agriculture, economy, infrastructure, etc, I have programme and blueprint. Whatever they are doing today in government is within the limit of their knowledge and understanding; but it does not suit my own definition of governance, because I believe I will do better.
Majority of governors in Nigeria have resorted to borrowing in order to finance government projects and programmes, a development that has plunged states into debts. When you get to the Anambra Government House in 2021, how would you organize your government to make sure you execute state projects without borrowing?
I am one of those who believe that the cost of governance in our country is very high and must be reduced drastically. One thing about Anambra is that it has both the human capital and the resources to move it forward. What it requires is to create the enabling environment, and Nigeria will be surprised at what our people can do in moving the state forward. Anambra has successful and determined people in every sphere of life. So, what our people need to do is to create the necessary environment for these great Anambrarians to thrive. We can achieve it. That is not to say that borrowing is not part of governance. But one thing that must guide any government borrowing is that you must borrow to invest in a project that has capacity to pay the money borrowed; otherwise, you plunge your state into debt. If you borrow to fund white elephant projects or do Christmas tree or decoration, you will run into trouble paying the debts. If you borrow to invest in infrastructure, you’ll get a return; because, such investments have the capacity to repay the money borrowed.
May we know any marks you’ve made at the National Inland Waterways Authority since you took over as managing director?
We have done a lot. I know where NIWA was when I came in; I know where it is today, and where it will be before I leave office. I have done a lot in terms of infrastructural development, in terms of staff training and welfare, in terms of development of jetties, among many other things. We have been able to improve berthing facilities at Lokoja dockyard; we have been able to digitalize National Inland Waterways Authority; construct the Ilama-Iwopin jetty in Ogun State. We have constructed jetty at Odekpe, Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State; constructed NIWA shore protection works at Marina, Lagos; completed jetty construction at Yenegoa, Bayelsa, and also constructed shore protection works at Yenagoa Jetty 2. We also constructed boat terminals at Bekin, Kogi State and Wuro Boki in Adamawa State. Others include procurement of one reach stacker 45 ton, one Mobile Boom Crane 80 ton, as well as 3T, 5T, and 250T forklifts; installation of electronic register for NIWA inland water vessels, NIWA assets, and infrastructure on inland waterways right-of-ways; installation of floating jetties, and successful test run carrying empty cargoes from Onitsha River Port to Onne Port, among other achievements. Since we assumed office on October 8, 2019, we dedicated ourselves to restoring operational and regulatory integrity of the waterways. I state with all sense of humility that my management and I have made considerable strides to restore operational and regulatory integrity of the nation’s waterways system. It is also safe to say that without the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, we would have recorded more successes in the service delivery, revenue drive, provision of waterways infrastructure and human capital development in NIWA. NIWA has great future, and my main task as the MD/CEO is to harness and grow its resources to bring that future to fruition.
Could you speak briefly about your pet project, Zimuzo Humanitarian Foundation?
Zimuzo Humanitarian Foundation is 10 years old. We see it as a platform through which we can contribute our quota to humanity. As the name implies, Zimuzo, it means showing the way. We see it as platform through which we can better the lives of the less privileged, the indigent, the poor, the orphans and the widows. Using the platform of Zimuzo, there are people we paid their hospital bills, there are people we trained in schools. Sometime ago, all those at the correctional centres within Anambra State, who were there because they could not pay their fines, this foundation paid their fines and secured their release. We also have housing scheme for widows. Some of the beneficiaries of the housing scheme have no children; some of them have children who cannot also fend for their aged mothers. Sometime in the past, we commissioned one of such buildings at Nise in Awka South LGA and one at Nnewi North. One is ongoing at Anam in Anambra West, and so on. So, as we find resources or receive supports, we will also reach out to other people. We have some of the beneficiaries at the universities; some at the secondary schools. We also undertake projects in the church, depending on the resources at our disposal. We also provide palliatives to indigent people, to make sure that we share what we have with others within the society. For me, life can be worth the while when you impact on it. I am one person, who believes that I will be remembered by history based on the impact I make in the society; not based on personal wealth I make. I believe that any position you occupy is given to you by God. I also believe that any action you take, you will also account for it.