WHY I RETURNED TO ANPP â€“ MOGHALU
George Moghalu was National Secretary of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. He left the party last year to join the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), but has since returned, few weeks to the ANPP national convention slated for July 17. In this interview, Moghalu offers an insight into what he saw in PDP during his shuttle and why he returned to 'the party I helped to nurture to growth.“
Why did you return to ANPP? Well, to be honest with you, politics is all about service and you can offer service on any platform, if you are committed. Everybody knew the circumstances, the reason I left ANPP, because it was widely reported in the papers.
There was a calculated attempt to frustrate some of us and when it became too hot, we decided to give space. If you look at the country today, like I have always said, opposition politics is the platform of any democratic nation, because the truth about it is that you cannot have a viable democratic culture, without a strong opposition and each complement the other.
There is this theory I have always propounded. I have always said that the party in government and the party in opposition, both are in government.
.One is in government to keep the electoral promises, the other is in government to ensure that promises made are kept and when the two are active, it is the people that benefit. Therefore, there should be no restriction to the level at which opposition is being played. It could be at the national, it could be at the state level, but it could even be at the local government level, because the party in government in the centre could be in opposition in the state.
For example, where I come from, Anambra State, PDP is in opposition. But you and I know that the PDP is the largest party; it is the party in control of the central government, therefore everyone has a role. So, what happened to ANPP as a party after the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Maiduguri created a new consciousness.
Some leaders in ANPP whom I relate with across the country, politically discussed with me, because they believed I have a role to play.
People have been asking, “why did you leave your party“? Without sounding arrogant, I am not a joiner in ANPP, I am a founder. So, why would you leave your party, since you have always said the people are your major concern/ are you happy with the state of ANPP? Don't youthink there is the need to rebuild opposition party, so that it can present a viable opposition to government, so that government can be alive to its responsibility to the people?. So, a lot of pressure was on me, from my political associates and people in ANPP and I considered the sincerity of intention of those who approached me.
But some are of the opinion that, just like the average politician in Nigeria, your movement wasn't informed by any altruistic motive; that it is because PDP became too hot for you as a platform that's why you had to move .
Well, let me start with the first one. What is there to grab in ANPP, when all that can be grabbed is in government and the party that is in power at the center today is PDP that I just abandoned?
If contract is my interest, it is in the Federal Government of Nigeria; if appointment is my interest, it is the federal government that can guarantee it. ANPP is not in control in my state. If they were, I would say, fine, I want to go back to ANPP. If it were in control of the central government, you can say, fine I want to go back to the central government to take what it can offer me as an individual.
The truth about it is that without sounding arrogant, I am a different kind of politician. The reason is simple : for me, integrity counts.
If I had to mortgage my integrity; if I had to live a life that will be an embarrassment to my people, I would rather not do it, because I believe so strongly that, which is my own will come knocking at my door—at the appropriate time. So, it isn't just that at all.
If what all those who had come to talk with me is anything to go by, the reference point has always been, “ we are making reference to the role you played, when you were national secretary“.
Without sounding immodest, I refused to talk about when I served as national secretary, I allow people to talk about it, because we all keep saying that history will judge us.
People have said to me and to others who came to me that, if there was a time ANPP was in glorious mention, it was when I was National Secretary. If you remember then, with the total support of my chairman, Yusuf Ali and the encouragement the nine governors and 24 Senators, I was able to rebuild the party. If you remember, people were coming into ANPP, across the nation. I don't want to bore you with names. People were trooping into ANPP across the country, because they saw the platform as viable, for the actualization of their individual ambitions.
So, the people who talked to me to return, were convinced that I have a role to play to strengthen opposition so that opposition can play its role, so that opposition can be vibrant, for the benefit of the Nigerian people.
Then, the second part of your question, you can make any independent assessment. I have a fantastic relationship with everybody I met in PDP. I was very well received, from my ward, to the local government, to the state and the national and everything due me as a leader in my own right I have always received, be it respect, acknowledgment—everything due me.
If I wanted to be governor in 2010, I could have been involved, but the question is, did I contest? I refused to, because for me, this word called desperation don't exist in my calendar. It doesn't . When I saw the desperation, coupled with the determination of the party in line with the expectations , vis- a – vis the direction the party was going, the honourable thing to do was to sit back and watch.
So, nobody can say PDP was hot for me. In fact, it would be hotter for me in ANPP. Being a leader, I would put more energy and everything to rescue the house the that I built, from total collapse. So, the challenge is more there. But for me, like I have always said the key word there is service. To what extent can I be used by God for the benefit of the generality of Nigerians; that's the fundamental thing, because if you remove the Nigerian people from the equation; if you remove service to the Nigerian people, there is no point being in politics.
You must have read the ANPP constitution
There is a section that stipulates that to seek for a party office, you must have spent a year.
Will that not be a hindrance to your speculated ambition to be National Chairman of the party?
One thing you don't understand is that you are even going too far, because your question is based on an assumption. I would rather say, when we get to the bridge, we cross it. One thing about my politics is that when I get to any bridge, I will cross it.
You were in ANPP with them, when the party joined the government of national unity. Some people have attributed the present abyss the party has found itself to buying the bait of the ruling party through that unhealthy romance.
Do you agree with that?
You see, there is no problem with trying to stabilize the country, but the truth about it is that to what extent did you carry the people along? You cannot eat your cake and have it and there is no way that you can play very vibrant politics, as an opposition by being part of government , because it would check you, it would restrict you naturally speaking , because you cannot with one mouth say hosannah and then turn around and use the same mouth to say, crucify him!
Did you raise your voice against it when it was being mooted?
Yes, we discussed it and I raised my views, but the most important thing, like I have always said, there is the need at every time to consult.
There must be proper consultation, total consultation so that everybody would have a say before a decision can be taken, vis a vis the party policy as important , as strategic as being part of the government in power . It was a policy that required serious, sincere consultation , because it had the potential of making or marring the party and its future.
Now that you have returned to the party, are you sure those issues that informed your decision to leave are being taken care of now?
I may not be able to tell you the details, but the truth about it is that the issues we think aren't right certainly would be discussed. It has to be discussed, because they are the basics.
It isn't only me that left ANPP, a lot of people did. If you take time to sit at the gallery at the National Assembly and take a census of those there, if you check the political history of those there now, I can say without any iota of contradiction that over 50 per cent of the people you have there have one thing or the other to do with APP, or ANPP and the same thing is applicable to the House of Representatives.
So, it isn't about George Moghalu anymore, but about many of the people that left the party. The question now is, why? Can we get these people? The only way to get them is to address those fears. You cannot talk about a stable democracy in this country without having internal democracy in the political party, that throws up these candidates that emerge as leaders. Of course, you cannot give what you don't have! So, there must be internal democracy and that's the key factor; the peoples` wish must count. You must try to move a step further from where you are standing.
But do you think the ANPP has what it takes to win election now, considering the enormity of the problem it is contending with? Those of you who want to rebuild has a rubble to encounter and that's a serious challenge.
But the truth about it is that you don't build a house from the roof.
The only thing you do from top, is digging a grave. Every other thing you build from bottom up. Even God , when He created us, we all came as children, before we came to maturity. If you are doing anything you start from the scratch; if you want to assemble a car, you start from the parts.
Few months to election?
With determination of everybody that's concerned. One thing I know about the average Nigerian, irrespective of the political party is that Nigerians are ready at any time to follow a focused, sincere and committed leader . And when you have that kind of followership, very vibrant, you can turn things around, time isn't the problem. The two basic factors is the commitment of the leadership to know and the determination of the followership to follow you. For you to be followed, you must show the potentials of knowing where you are going to.