Friday, May 07, 2021

Developing Inland Waterways Would Help Reduce Road Pressure, Congestion--Chief (DR.) George N. Moghalu, MD/CEO NIWA


Chief (Dr.) George N. Moghalu is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). Before his current position, he has served at various level both in the private and political sector. In this exclusive interview with Topflyers Magazine, he speaks about the new NIWA and his ambition to occupy the soon-to-be-vacant Anambra State Government House.



What does it feel like to be the managing director of NIWA?

I will simply say that it is challenging because when you do what you like to do and when you have set timeline and target for yourself it becomes a little more challenging. So for me, it is challenging and interesting at the same time.

In a layman’s term, what is NIWA about?

Well, it is an acronym for National Inland Waterways Authority. We are an agency of the government domiciled in the federal ministry of transportation. We are responsible for making inland waterways navigable; we facilitate movement for cargo and personnel within the waterways. We manage and maintain our rights of way across the country, we create enabling environment for the transport system to grow, and we are part of the multi-border transport system in Nigeria. We have done quite a lot, like the Construction of Boat Terminal at Bakin-Kogi State; Construction of Jetty at Odekpe, Ogbaru LGA, Anambra State; Construction of Jetty 2 at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; Construction of Boat Terminal at WuroBoki, Adamawa State etc.

Before your advent as the managing director of NIWA, not much was known about the agency but currently, people seem to know much about it. What have you been doing to make this possible?

I saw the lack of visibility of NIWA as one of the challenges when I was about to take over. I said it in my first interview after my appointment on October 9, 2019. I said in very clear terms that NIWA is under-reported and because of that a lot of people do not know what we do and who we are. So I appealed to the media industries and my friends to assist me to get people to know NIWA by reporting our activities so that people can buy into what we are doing and to God be the glory we have received co-ordinated responses and media support. It is safe to say that today we are not as under-reported as we used to be.

You have a training school for boat operators in Warri, Delta State. Tell us about it?

Well, when I was appointed as MD, I saw the lack of a training school as one of the challenges because there were quite a lot of accidents happening so we had to do an in-house study of what could be the problem. Thereafter, we identified the wrecks of the waterways, poor quality of the vessels, inadequate training for the captains, carelessness and non-adherence to protocols. With these, we felt the need to do the right thing by providing them with the right environment instead of chastising the people. We decided to retrain boat operators by going to our schools to be properly trained because every life is important. We cannot sit back and watch accidents happen when some of them could be avoided. So that led to us starting the training school in partnership with some of the organizations that had shown interest and I have also given an approval for such a programme to start in Lagos. Early this year I was in Badagary to participate and preside over the training programme of some students where over 450 boat operators were in attendance and were retrained over a one-week programme on how to operate boats so we are concerned with training not only boat operators but even boat owners. So the school is doing well but we have to do more.

That is an amazing input Sir. Amidst the dreaded COVID-19 virus, how is NIWA being sustained?

As we all know COVID-19 is a world-wide pandemic that disorganized the entire structure and programmes of the world were altered, making Nigeria or NIWA not an exception. We had our own bit of the challenge but we had to key-in to do things that we should do. We had to look inwards to our operational methodologies to see how we could make some amendments to what we were doing before. We introduced protocols in all our offices and jetties like the use of face mask, hand sanitizers, frequent hand washing, etc. Unlike before, you cannot just enter any jetty boat without properly being kitted. You must wear your vests, life jacket, face mask etc. Again, because of the virus we reduced the carriage capacity of all vessels so that we can encourage social distance. Vessels that had 100% capacity were brought down to 60%. Basically it has been quite challenging but we are tackling the challenges.

Would you advise the members of your staff to take the Astravenza Vaccine and have you taken the vaccine?

I have taken the first jab and my second one is coming up soon. So I encourage everyone to take it but it is not something I can legislate over, I can only appeal to them so they do not follow the scary stories of the vaccine on social media. Presently every member of my immediate family has been vaccinated.

The Baro River Sea Port in Niger state has been long commissioned but activities are yet to start taking place there. What could be the reason?

Yes, you are correct. It is a world class port that has been completed and well built but the challenge that has been there which is being addressed now is the issue of access roads to the port. Even the Niger state government aside that of the federal government has shown interest in contributing to the port so, I am sure in no distance time, activities will commence there.

What are your challenges being the MD of NIWA?

For me, I do not look at challenges. I try to look at solutions. There are challenges certainly even my Bible tells me that “many are the afflictions of the righteous but He delivereth them from all”. The point is that He did not exclude the challenges but the assurance is that, God can deliver us from it so long as we do what is right. So for me, I do not get scared about challenges. I confront challenges believing strongly that challenges will always come but the attitude to it is what matters.

In a recent interview you said that the present governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano would be the last governor of APGA in Anambra State. What gives you that impression?

It is because we are going to present our manifesto and report card. Like in the last interview I had, I said that Anambra State is a state that from 1999 till date had PDP and APGA rule the state and now it is the turn of APC. So having given PDP and APGA a chance, we are begging the people of Anambra State to please try us.

(Interviewer intercepts) Irrespective of the strong hold that APGA has in the state?

Yes, because it is not about strong hold, the narrative has changed completely. The only way you can hold power is by performance and when you win the confidence of the people. This time around I am confident and trusting God that it is the turn of APC.

It is no doubt that we, TOPFLYERS MAGAZINE believe in your political aspirations considering our conversation so far. However, for every action, there was a pre-conceived thought. Our readers would be curious to also know why you want to be the Governor of Anambra State?

My reason is not far-fetched. What drives me is my passion for service. I believe very strongly that every action you take, power is in sacred thrust and if you do not account for it you will account in the world hereafter and the moment you are guided by that principle you will know that it is a privilege for you to be called to serve. Just as I am the MD of NIWA, God has given me the opportunity to lead using my ministers who recommended me to the President who in turn appointed me. I went into the job having clearly set out conditions that I want to justify the confidence of the President, ministers, my friends and immediate family who believe in my capacity and have made sacrifices for me to be where I am today. So I owe these people the duty to serve and I want to go to Anambra State to change the narrative. The past governors have done their best but their best is not good enough on a personal point of view. I am coming with a different solution/agenda entirely that will address the issue of education, health, infrastructural decay amongst others as these are the key points to move any economy forward.

What is your advice to the aspiring political candidates in the forth-coming Anambra election?

The truth is that you cannot tell contestants what to do especially when they did not ask for your opinion. The only thing I will say is, “let us do it in civility, let us understand that it is only one person that will be the Governor. Power belongs to God and He gives it to whom He pleases”. If we understand these fundamentals, there ought to be no issues.

Do you have any other position in mind where you would someday aspire to serve asides being the MD of NIWA or governor of Anambra State?

Like I said, God is the Author and finisher of my faith, God guides me. My tomorrow is totally dependent on God and the will of the people. So for me, let us finish this one.

What do you think is really the cause of insecurity in Nigeria?

Security is a major challenge in Nigeria but I also want us to know that security is not government business alone. It is for everyone. In addressing the present insecurity challenges, I want to humbly appeal to the elite class, captains of industries and political leaders, “let us tone down our rhetorics”. Nigeria is bigger and more important than any of us and we are stronger when united. Let us discourage hatred for each and one another because we need LOVE. I also think there is need for us to look inward. Every government must think proactively to positive change in the educational curriculum. We must design our educational curriculum to the extent that we do not train only people who are unemployable; we should as well train people to be employers themselves. We should encourage skill development. I want to use this medium to commend the Federal government for all the programmes they started such the N-power, the bank of industry, the skill acquisition programmes which are very good but we must link it up with economic empowerment and growth because they are very important. Government alone cannot employ but if the government creates enabling policies for the private sector to grow, then they can accommodate employees.

What is the significant of NIWA to the Nigerian economy?

The moment we develop our inland waterways, the congestion in Lagos on all our inland waterways and sea ports would be removed. The pressure on our road infrastructure will be reduced. If for example 1,000 containers are moving to the South East, what that means is that 1, 000 containers would be on the road. But the moment we put the containers through the inland waterways we have removed the trailers from the road and reduced the pressure on road infrastructure because these roads are not designed to carry the loads they are carrying. If we develop our inland waterways, our ports can never be congested because this inland waterway have been designed to receive goods that would be delivered from different cities. We have not even talked about the tourism potentials. That alone is a massive source of income for the government.

Kindly Tell us about your charity works because we are familiar with the fact that you own know a charity foundation.

By the grace of God I am the president of ZimUzo development foundation. ZimUzo means “show me the way”. We have done quite a lot. I usually find it difficult talking about what we have done because I do not celebrate it. It is just what I do. I try as much as possible to be my brother’s keeper with my little resources. I believe that whatever God has given to you is not for you but the people. ZimUzo is a foundation we have used to help people, trained orphans to the university, in secondary schools and orphanages. There was a time we had to help release all the prisoners in Anambra State who were sent to prison because of fines they could not pay. We helped pay the fines of those who had between 1,000 through 100, 000 naira. We have started building houses for widows. We have completed and commissioned some but they will have a process through which widows are selected. We will select those who cannot help themselves, who have lost hope and faith, those who believe that God does not like them. We want to prove to them that God loves them.

(Interviewer intercepts). That is quite motivating but outside Anambra, do you have a plan of redistributing these opportunities to other states?

Yes. For instance, in the aspect of scholarship we have gone beyond the state. It is something I am passionate about.

What do you think about the Life Time achievement Award that was given to you by Topflyers Magazine recently?

I felt very much excited because when you do things and you do not know that people are taking note, you will feel happy when you are called upon for an award. So, I was very much excited. God Bless the entire team.

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