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Now That Moghalu Has Lost

Eyewitness reporter

George Moghalu, the Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) was among the 14 candidates who contested the All Progressive Party (APC) governorship primary for the November 6th  governorship elections in Anambra state.

At the party’s Anambra state primary election held last week, Moghalu came a distant third, losing the APC ticket to Senator Andy Uba.

According to the results announced Sunday, June 27th, 2021 at Golden Tulips Hotel, Agulu Lake, the NIWA boss garnered 18, 596 votes to come a distant third to Senator Uba, who grossed 230, 201 votes, thus putting paid to the ambition of Moghalu to govern Anambra state, at least in the next four years.

We are not by any means celebrating the electoral defeat of the NIWA boss nor gloating over the temporary setback in his electoral fortunes.

But what the Anambra people may have lost in denying Moghalu the APC ticket to vie for the highest position in the state, is now the NIWA gains.

We believe that now that Moghalu has lost in his ambition to run the state, at least at this period, he would now give maximum concentration to the administration of inland waterways in the country.

Chief Moghalu, a core member of the ruling party, was appointed as the Managing Director of NIWA in October 2019 to replace Senator Olorunbe Mamora who was appointed as the Minister of State for Health.

Until his appointment in 2019, Moghalu was the  National Auditor of his party.

Stakeholders claimed he was a reluctant NIWA boss as he still had his eyes firmly fixed on politics and how to fulfil his ambition to become the governor of Anambra State at the time he took over in 2019.

His action and miens betrayed his political ambition even while he reluctantly assumed duties at the Lokoja headquarters of the agency.His political ambition, which he could barely conceal, even at the early stage of his tenure, divided his attention and impaired his performance in the discharge of his core duties as NIWA boss.

The harvest of avoidable mishaps on the waterways, lack of will power by NIWA to enforce standard and regulations on the operators clearly showed management which lacked commitment and focus.

The failed state of some of our River ports, the under-utilisation of Onitsha Rivers Port, which one thought could have engaged his attention for obvious reasons, was also a pointer to leadership with divided interests.

The lifeless nature of NIWA’s leadership got to an alarming proportion when the waterways began to witness almost daily mishaps.

Stakeholders, who were concerned by the apparent lack of commitment and focus of NIWA leadership, began to voice out their trepidation over gradual decay and rot on our waterways.

They blamed lack of will to enforce regulations, safety, standard, and lack of regulation such as overloading, night voyage, rickety and old craft as causes of mishaps on the inland waterways.

The erstwhile President of Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Alhaji Aminu Umar,  believed that enforcement of safety and standard on the nation’s inland waterways is weak.

“I think the task of NIWA  is to standadise safety conditions and procedures on the nation’s waterway.

“There is no standard applied on the movement of people as all kind of boats are being used. It is important that we standardise because lack of safety and standard will increase accident.”

Umar was also alarmed at the unregulated movement of barges with passengers boats which he said was accidents in waiting, blaming it on the lack of weak regulatory powers of NIWA.

He said it’s a huge risk allowing badges moving containers around the port area to be moving side by side with boats moving passengers and vessels approaching the Lagos Ports.

“Moving people and containers at the same time is a huge risk and a safety concern. NIWA and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), should see to this,”

Another concerned stakeholder, a professor at the Lagos Business School, Dr. Frank Ojadi,  was alarmed at the level to which the Nigerian inland waterways has deteriorated.

He said it was shameful that the nation’s Inland waterways are in ruins and left to rot away instead of being a catalyst for development.

” The Inland Waterway Transport was the platform on which the colonial masters built Nigeria before the railway. It is a shame that it has been left to decay. That is how we do things in this country,” he said.

Also speaking, a member of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kenneth Nwachukwu, asked why it was so difficult for NIWA to enforce the banning of night sailing, use of life jacket and overcrowding of boats?

“That the MD is unable to ban night sailing, use of life jacket and overloading is another testament that a lot still needed to be done to clean-up our inland waterways”.

The alarm raised by these stakeholders was an eloquent testimony to the level of loose control from the leadership of NIWA and this could be the function of lack of commitment and focus.

That is why stakeholders said the loss of Moghalu in the APC primaries, though painful, was a blessing for NIWA.

They believe the loss will now afford Moghalu ample time to focus on how to direct the affairs of NIWA to achieve maximum efficiency.

“Now that he has lost, he should concentrate on the job he is being paid for,”  an angry operator on the nation’s inland waterways said.

“We urge him to pay more attention on how to enforce standard and safety on the waterways to forestall further loss of lives and properties on the waters” another stakeholder interjected.

The stakeholders believed the relative calm and safety on the Lagos waterways was largely due to the activities and purposeful leadership of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) which has been proactive, focused and committed in its quest to enforce discipline on the waterways.

“If left for NIWA, the Lagos waterways could also have witnessed the similar harvest of mishaps as the case in other parts of the country,” another operator said.

“NIWA has practically gone into a coma under its present management as the activities of the agency are not being felt going by the regular mishaps that happen on our waterways where it is now free for all for all kind of boats and crafts whose operators have no or little regards for standard and safety,”  an expert in the industry said.

It is therefore the general wish of all stakeholders that Chief Moghalu, now that he has lost the Anambra state APC primary election, would give his assignment at NIWA the utmost priority, maximum and committed attention it deserves in order to bring order and sanity to the nation’s waterways.

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