OKEY MADUFORO reports on the prospect of the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, emerging as a consensus candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State
It was a well-attended meeting of some stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress APC in Anambra State and top on the agenda was the candidacy of the party ahead of the gubernatorial primary election of the party next month.
Though reporters were not allowed to cover the meeting, feelers that got to reporters were that the stakeholders were brain storming on the possibility of having a consensus candidate for the party instead of going through the process of conducting a primary election. After the meeting, one of the members present at the meeting told this reporter that five aspirants were considered.
They include Senator Andy Uba, Dr. George Moghalu, Chief Azuka Okwuosa, Paul Orajaka and Chidozie Nwankwo. “We had to look into the possibility of any of them being acceptable to the voters and we felt that the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA), Moghalu, is the only aspirant that has no kind of stigma or unpopular past but we are still consulting and let me tell you that three aspirants have indicated interest to step down for Moghalu,” she said.
However, the state chairman of the APC, Chief Basil Ejidike, however noted that the constitution of the party made provisions for consensus candidate but it must be done in line with the law and not just automatic ticket.
When contacted, the Director General of Moghalu Campaign Organization, Okey Chukwuogo, said that the NIWA boss is not surprised that he is being considered for the ticket of the party.
But Moghalu opponents are kicking insisting that he cannot be the party’s consensus candidate. Engr. Ike Ekwensi one of the directors of Azuka Okwuosa campaign organization contended that in the event of choosing a consensus candidate, all party stakeholders must be involved before such a decision is taken.
“Moghalu is not the only aspirant in the party and the Azuka Okwuosa campaign organization is not aware of any plans for a consensus candidate and we were not informed about this,” he said.
Also, Senator Andy Uba”s supporters described the issue of consensus as unacceptable to them, contending that the primary election must be held.
They also insisted that Uba is the most acceptable candidate for the party, adding that the former senator has capacity and pedigree more than other aspirant. Reports, however, has it that the candidacy of Moghalu appears to be enjoying the support of most leaders and members of the party. Moghalu, indeed, cuts the picture of consistency.
He made his debut in politics when he was the campaign director to the former governor of Abia State, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, and later became Commissioner in Abia state as it were. At the formative stage of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP), he emerged as the National Secretary of the party and later National Secretary of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) for over eight years.
He contested for the gubernatorial election in Anambra State in 2003 on the platform of the ANPP but was not successful. While other candidates collapsed their structure in support of the eventual winner of the said election, Moghalu remained in the party despite overtures to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Moghalu challenged the declaration of Dr. Chris Ngige (then of the PDP) at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal but his party’s chairman and secretary, testified against him, claiming that the winner of the election was Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Moghalu described the position taken by his party’s chairman and secretary as a sad commentary of what party loyalty should be. He added that politics as a game is not dirty but the set of politicians who have chosen to play the game dirty.
Moghalu was a member of the merger committee that midwifed the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) by then leading opposition parties.
His contributions earned him the position of National Auditor and member of the APC Board of Trustees (BoT). When NIWA was faced with challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari found Moghalu well positioned to steer the ship of the agency and appointed him chief executive officer and managing director of the establishment.
Before then, Moghalu was Chairman Nigerian Communication Daylight Limited (NICOMSAT). His advent into NIWA has indeed showcased his capacity in turning human and material resources to good use.
According to the Anambra State chairman of the APC, Ejidike, “what is happening in NIWA is indeed commendable and a lot of changes are being made manifest under the stewardship of Dr. George Moghalu and we the members of the APC are happy with him.
This also goes to show that we have men and women of proven Integrity that can manage the affairs of Anambra State and Nigeria in general. “Our brother, Moghalu has been turning the body around and this is to the advantage of Anambra people, Ndigbo and our brothers from the South-South and it has gone a long way to open the eyes of our business men and women as well as industrialists to a lot of opportunities.
“Most of the ports in the country have come alive due to the way he has been running the affairs of NIWA and it leaves nobody in doubt over what the APC government is doing in the South-East and South-South today and we as a party would leverage on these achievements in the November gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
“Moghalu has added more to the scorecard of our party and has also shown that if given the chance to run the affairs of Anambra State he will do better and take the state to the next level,” he said.
Anambra South zonal chairman of the APC, Mr. Izuchukwu Okeke, said the concept of consensus candidate is in line with the constitution of the party, adding that if Moghalu emerges as through such process, it would be a welcome development.
“When you understudy the achievements of Moghalu in NIWA, you will discover that he has taken the establishment to a greater height, he has been able to revive the revenue base of the body to become self-sustaining, and that is to the credit of our party in Anambra State,” he said.
A former state chairman of the PDP and now member of the APC, Chief Chris Orajekwe, described Moghalu’s candidacy as one that presents the first eleven of the party. “Who doesn’t know George Moghalu? His relationship with politicians across all political parties is commendable.
Even when he was in the ANPP, he also related freely with the member of the PDP while I was chairman of the PDP. “I must tell you that of all the aspirants in the party, Moghalu is the most acceptable and aside from other meetings that have been going on, I learnt that the APC Elders Forum is going to meet, so be rest assured that Moghalu will emerge as our candidate. That doesn’t mean that we do not have other qualified aspirants in our party. We have a lot of them and Moghalu is among the best,” he said. The submissions of Okeke speak volume of the task before Moghalu in the coming primary election. Given this indication is the reservation some Anambra electorate have about the APC in the face of Insecurity in the country as well as the calibre of aspirants in the party. Moghalu has to battle with kinsman, Engr. Azuka Okwuosa, who has been a traditional APC man and who has been instrumental to reconciling all factions in the party after the last governorship election.
He is equally expected to go extra mile in order to upstage a two-term senator of Anambra South Senatorial District, Andy Uba, who also commands followership in the party. Also, Dr. Paul Orajaka, from the Old Aguata Union has deep rooted structure in the party and has the capacity to turn the table at the primary election.
Against this backdrop, Moghalu has to play deep into the politics of the three local government areas that make up the Old Aguata Union.
Also from the Old Aguata Union is Dr. Chidozie Nwankwo, who has proven that he is not new to the politics of Anambra State and the APC in particular. He has built a formidable structure in the party and is also on the list of those being considered as consensus candidate.
Despite Moghalu’s political strength and chances of clinching the APC ticket, the question being asked is: Will his personality change the notion most Anambra electorate have about the APC?
Answers to this question is not farfetched as according to Moghalu, “those painting such pictures about the APC are the opposition who know that our party is contesting to win the November election and they are doing everything thing they can to paint us black.”
He added: “All federal government’s projects embarked upon and abandoned by the PDP are being completed by the APC government at the centre and these were projects used by PDP as a campaign slogan.
We are not afraid of their antics because we are fighting corruption and corruption is trying to fight back through name dropping and making malicious statements. November is by the corner, and soon, you will discover that Anambra people have nothing against the APC.”