It is not everyday that one receives an official call from the erudite and radical Rotimi Amaechi, Minister for Transport. It was like a bolt from the blues call to my childhood friend, Chief George Nnadubem Moghalu. It was a life changing call that put drops of tears in his eyes. Tears that fast forwarded his life’s giant strides and contributions to the Nigerian Project that is on track. Ecstasy could not capture George’s feelings when President Buhari accepted the recommendations of the Minister of Transport to appoint him the MD of the National Inland Waterways Authority. That thundering call came on the 8th of October, 2019. George said that the call represented a crescendo of his efforts over the years and a strong needed Presidential endorsement from Mr. President. In his own words, “the call was primarily and mostly a marching order from Chibuike Amaechi to install a solid platform to reeingineer the internal operating mechanism of NIWA robustly for better results”. We have been friends for over 40 years from our boisterous infantile days in Aba. But the difference between us was quite clear on the status of our families. While my poor parents struggled to enlist me at the famous Asa road primary school owned by the Christ The King Church, CKC with my siblings, George was enlisted in the then famous and exclusive Sancta Maria Primary School in Aba patronised by the established rich and famous families. After primary school, George proceeded to Ngwa High School, Abayi Aba while I proceeded to the National High School Azumini where I met such strong characters like Felix Waboso, Kalada Epele, Pastor Ken, Brother Ike(SP) and Veronica Unachukwu. These class of ’80s changed my life for good.
With his solid disciplined background with the added silver spoon family platform, George has unprecedented pedigree and innately imbued capacity to turn around the fortunes of NIWA. As a consumate politician and seasoned Administrator, George Moghalu became the National Secretary of the defunct All Peoples Party of Nigeria that later changed to All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP). The party had 9 Governors under their belt with an equally solid National Chairman in Alhaji Yusuf Ali from Kano state. This unbreakable and uncompromising pair of hands lifted the ANPP to a respectable height in Nigeria during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. George is a man with zero tolerance for tribalism of any sort. As the National Secretary of the defunct ANPP, he wielded the party together as a united force under the leadership of Yusuf Ali. Straight from my NTA and AIT days as host of a sociopolitical and Diplomatic programmes, the party appointed me the multimedia consultant in 1999-2003. With George as my direct boss, I toured all the 9 states for interviews with the governors and had on the spot assessments of their governance projects. With George’s midas touch from our heydays, ANPP thrived. I was also Lucky to work with him again in 2014 during the formation of the APC brand as a political party where he was appointed as Member/Secretary of the ANPP Merger Committee under the Chairmanship of His Excellency, Alhaji Shekarau, the former 2-time Governor of Kano State. He was also appointed a member of the Central Merger Committee of the ANPP that midwifed the birth, registration and inauguration of APC. It was not a surprise that he was also elected as the party’s National Auditor, a post he held until the recent dissolution of the National Working Committee. With his integrity, high administrative skills and operating acumen, George was also appointed as the Chairman, Board of Directors of the Federal government owned Nigeria Communication, Satellite Company Limited(NIGCOMSAT).
With high level of innate value chain he has from the years of yore, George is certain to put measures in place to reposition NIWA. Meeting him up in his office complex at the Shippers Council here in Abuja, the beehive of activities was unprecedented. I hear that he has initiated a giant step with his team to upgrade the Authority’s facilities and safety standards on Nigeria’s Waterways and coastal lines. In Bayelsa state recently to unveil the initiative, he insisted that such moves are necessary to restore the operational and and regulatory integrity of NIWA. As part of the re-engineering process, he said that all boats and water vessels without NIWA permits would not be allowed to operate on Nigeria’s vast coastal lines. He says that NIWA would never allow business as usual where rickety boats are allowed to operate with the potential dangers of wasting Nigerian lives in our waterways. He says the organisation has commenced massive clearance of the water debris and Hycinth of Nigeria’s channel. Part of his functional plans includes having a clear institutionalised data on operators in our waterways. It of of note that part of the changes he has recently installed in the organisation includes the signing of an MOU with a firm to provide life jackets in all waterways in the country. In other to attract investment opportunities in Nigeria’s Waterways system, he has embarked on a massive sensitization workshops across the country. He told me in our recent chats in his office that he has concluded a facility tour of Port Harcourt, Warri, Yenagoa, Onitsha, Oguta, Baro and the Headquarters in Lokoja.
REMOVAL OF ILLEGAL STRUCTURES AND THE NEW DRIVE TO COMPLETE RIVER PORTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
As part of his initial managerial steps, NIWA has committed to dismantling illegal structures along the right of ways of our waterways. In other to increase the organisation’s IGR, he insisted that all landlords given permission to build the right of ways must pay their appropriate dues to avoid unpleasant sanctions.
His priority projects are to ensure that the major Lokoja River Port in Nigeria are promptly completed because of their economic streams and values in Nigeria. Part of his agenda is to complete River Port project at Akpanya, along the Abuja-Lokoja road awarded in 2012. I understand that this project has a high economic value to Kogi State and Nigeria’s quest for an increased non oil revenue profile. Besides, the Federal government has invested a huge chunk of resources so far on the project. Knowing George’s usual dexterity, tenacity and his strategic engaging nature, I expect him to pull rabbits from his thinking hat to revive Nigeria’s River ports.
If he successfully completes the Onitsha River Port because of it’s economic value to the Southeast zone, there will be high economic stimulation of the Southeast zone. Succeeding to add economic values to the southeast zone where the zone’s kwashiokor and egocentric loutish governors have failed woefully to inaugurate regional economic platforms that can generate and offer employment opportunities to teeming youths and women. I am also expecting similar aggression to succeed in the Baro and Oguta River Ports.
George has not expressly indicated to me about his gubernatorial quest for Anambra state’s 2021 election. If the rumours are true with some flashes of tales by moonlight stories I am exposed to in Anambra state, the 2021 gubernatorial elections will be a titanic fights of Kilwe Nwachukwus in Anambra state. From the beer parlour rumour Mills, more than 50 aspirants have indicated interests in the election. For George to win the APC ticket for the election, he may need to do something that has never been done before: lift the Apc national secretariat with all the national caretaker committee members and the entire governors under the Apc belt to relocate to Awka. In this era of aborted 2nd term dreams of incumbent governors of Apc, my brother will also need to keep his eyes on the ball within his domain of Nnewi. The interesting colouration of the upcoming gubernatorial election in Anambra is the interests of women who hitherto cowed out of such ventures in the past. I hear that Uche Ekwunife is gearing ready for this herculean rofo rofo fight next year. The list is increasing by the day. As usual in every election circle in Anambra state, the Minister of Labour, Chris Nwabueze Ngige’s name is sticking out like a sour thumb on this occasion. Back to NIWA matter of today, George Moghalu says and I quote during his celebratory 100 days in office as the MD of NIWA and I quote “GOD WILLING, I WILL BRING THE BEST OUT OF NIWA”. I strongly believe him.
SOUTHEAST GOVERNORS AND QUEST FOR REGIONAL SECURITY VS EASTERN RAIL LINE
I wish to congratulate the Southeast governors forum for suddenly waking up from sleep to aspire to set up a regional Security outfit towing the same line with the southwest zone who recently inaugurated AMATOKUN, as the regional Security outfit. It is a well placed vision. I also thank His Excellency, David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State for exhibiting a strong political will to lead this pack of never-do-well governors of the Southeast. It is about time our Governors of the zone actually remembers the reasons why they are living rent free with all their expenses paid by their respective states in the zone. In a forum that lacked leadership where there mantras remained the proverbial ” …to your tenths o Isreal”. it’s amazing they can think of how to secure the Southeast zone. In a zone where joint ventures usually dies on arrival, how are these governors going to workout the logistics of funding, training, equipment, legal and regulatory issues as well as issuing robust revolutionary Houses of Assembly laws to guide the outfit, statutory relationship with the Nigerian police, the Army and other security agencies to avoid inter agencies clashes that maybe a regional Security threat in the long run?
What about the employment opportunities in the outfit? What’s the equitable ratio of slots per state? Which state produces the leadership of the organization? I am speaking this grammar because I know that some states in the zone, especially my home state of Imo has the mischievous capacity to owe workers salaries for up to 12 months without giving a toss about these hapless workers. They forget that these workers shop from the same markets as the Governor’s wife without any “poverty” discounts offered to them by the traders.
My suggestion to these fat cows occupying our exalted seats of power is to come together to contribute to a common purse and embark on an aggressive economic integration projects to generate a spike in the zones economy and generate the needed IGRs to pay at least a minimum salary to our regional restive youths and women that are jobless and mostly resorting to criminal activities of armed robbery, financial scams and kidnappings.
It is a good idea for these governors to wake up belatedly from slumber to talk about the eastern rail link when the southwest, Northwest and northeast are remotely aggressive with the Federal government in the set up of cobwebs of surface rail lines leading to their states from Abuja and other cities. I encourage the governors to have a collective strategy of engaging Mr President and Chibuike Amaechi to cut a deal for the sake of the region. They need a political deal to pull this off.