Odinaka Okechukwu: Edeoga Won’t Make a Good Gov in Enugu


In this interview with THISDAY, Comrade Odinaka Okechukwu, political activist dissects political events in Isi-Uzo LGA and Enugu State vis-à-vis the 2023 general election, saying his kinsman and the Labour Party governorship candidate, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, wouldn’t make a good governor

Yourself and hundreds of others recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Eha-Amufu Ward 3. Many expected you to head to the Labour Party where your kinsman, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, is the governorship candidate.

Well, for almost all of us, it is homecoming, not defection. Virtually all of us were loyal and foundation members of the PDP in Isi-Uzo LGA, including Mgbuji or Eha-Amufu Ward 3, which is Chijioke Edeoga’s Ward.

But we left PDP because of the highhandedness, lack of vision, and absence of progressive philosophies among some of those, including Edeoga, who held sway as political leaders of Eha-Amufu. They are so selfish and wicked to their own people. Imagine a situation where so-called leaders would tag their people kidnappers just because they are calling for the betterment of the lives of our poor villagers and because they refused to allow anybody to grab their lands. 

Imagine where widows’ farms are being burnt, where houses of our people of Mgbuji, Eha-Amufu are burnt. Imagine where other communities will be enjoying light, but the unpatriotic elements they foisted on our community will disconnect our light so they will pay less to the Enugu Electricity Development Company (EEDC) from the pool of funds contributed to power our community.

 We complained, but nobody listened to us. To be fair to Sullivan Chime, he invited us to a meeting during his tenure, but not much changed. So, we started leaving in droves in protest and opposition to impunity. We gave PDP a good fight in Eha-Amufu and Isi-Uzo during the council election and made sure we won Eha-Amufu Ward 3, which is Edeoga’s Ward to teach him some political lessons.

So, what informed your return?

We have seen the light after years of dark clouds. Remember, didn’t have problem with the PDP per se, but with Edeoga and his cohorts. We swore never to return to PDP as long as he was there. We cannot condone politics of oppression and ‘me, myself, and I’. For 25 years, he suppressed everybody and made sure nobody grew politically to challenge him in our community because he wants to permanently tag himself the leader of Mgbuji and Eha-Amufu. But now that he has left the PDP, and with the progressive leadership provided by the likes of the current Council Chairman, Barrister Obiora Obeagu and the State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Augustine Nnamani, we believe it is time to go back to PDP.

Talking about destruction of farms and property, these are serious allegations.

For your information, the affected villagers petitioned Ugwuanyi in December 2020 over misuse of political positions, intimidating others, coveting and expropriating their landed properties.  It’s nothing new. They now changed tactics and claimed that Enugu State Government had taken over the land in issue to establish “Omulor Housing Estate”. But it was a hoax to expropriate the said land. So, our people filed a case at the Obollo Afor Division of the Enugu State High Court. It is marked OB/4/2021 and has Chief Shederack Edeoga, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga and five others as defendants.

Yet, during the pendency of the case, thugs suspected to be working for Edeoga and his cohorts chased away the land owners, and completely destroyed hectares of cassava farm belonging to these poor villagers, many of them widows. The protest by the villagers, elderly women inclusive, went viral on social media. So, Edeoga and his cohorts arrested a classroom teacher and Umu-Ugwu Nwebe Orube family leader, Mr. Silas Ofiagu, on false allegation of threat to life. They used their influence in government to detain Ofiagu from 19th July to 2nd August 2021, without regard to the rule of law.

So, our people petitioned again to Ugwuanyi again on 25th July 2021. A petition was equally sent to the Commissioner of Police over the development and our people filed a lawsuit (E/797/2021) at the Enugu Judicial Division of the State High Court for the enforcement of Ofiagu’s rights. Chijioke Edeoga, Deputy Superintendent of Police Suleiman Abubakar, and Inspector Michael Chinedu Akalele are the defendants.

So, when such a man tells you he wants to be governor, imagine what he could do with full executive powers.

Are you saying that Eha-Amufu and Isi-Uzo would rather vote for another candidate than their brother?

This is the emotion Edeoga is trying to whip-up and ride on. Unfortunately, it will not work because he doesn’t have what it takes to be governor. He is lacking in capacity, empathy, competence, and dependability. He will be a monumental disaster.

Besides, for 25 years, he has served as the Council Chairman of Isi-Uzo, Member House of Representatives, Special Assistant to the President, Commissioner for Local Government in Ugwuanyi’s first term and Commissioner for Environment in Ugwuanyi’s second term. Let him come home and show his kinsmen what he has achieved for Mgbuji, Eha-Amufu, and Isi-Uzo. The only constituency project he attracted, as House of Representatives Member is located around Central School Eha-Ohuala in Eha-Amufu. It remains uncompleted and in total ruins over 20 years after.

How do you explain the fact that the major bridge leading to Mgbuji had since collapsed and that the only bridge leading to the community today is the one attracted by Senator Gil Nnaji.

What do you make of the seeming opposition to Ugwuanyi and sympathy to Edeoga in Enugu North Senatorial Zone, incidentally the Governor’s zone? What are PDP’s chances?

Forget the propaganda. The attacks you see are the handiworks of a few, who unjustly feel that Ugwuanyi should have worked for the old Nsukka zone to do another eight years after him. This is the interest Edeoga claims to represent even though he is now from Enugu East Zone where Isi-Uzo is currently located. But the rest are people ganged-up by those who desperately want to make their son-in-law, Edeoga, governor by wiping up old Nsukka zone sentiment. 

But don’t forget that Ugwuanyi was an indigene of Isi-Uzo LGA until Udenu was created out of Isi-Uzo in 1981. Isi-Uzo used to be in Nsukka Zone. Again, Edeoga is his close maternal relation. All these must have informed his decision not to look in Isi-Uzo’s direction in search for a successor; so it doesn’t appear like one LGA or family holding power for 16 straight years. That, to me, is statesmanship and sense of justice; and I’m sure most of our people understand that.

Besides, Ugwuanyi has done well for Isi-Uzo and Eha-Amufu. For instance, before his administration, you needed two clothes when journeying out of Eha-Amufu – the one you would wear on a bike to Nkalagu Junction and the one you would wear before going to Enugu because of mud or dust, depending on the season. But Ugwuanyi came here during his campaign and promised us brotherly love. It is this same governor that did our road and also made Edeoga commissioner twice that Edeoga is ganging up with some Enugu North Zone elements to fight for their selfish interest simply because he didn’t get PDP’s governorship ticket. Is fair and honourable?

Also, Edeoga signed an accord with about 18 other PDP governorship aspirants in Enugu East Senatorial District, where Isi-Uzo is located today, to support whomever Ugwuanyi endorsed as his preferred successor. He also personally signed a statement congratulating Dr. Mbah and calling on Enugu to support him, but only to make a U-turn to Labour Party.

Have you seen the accord?

Yes, of course. It was signed on 19th May 2022. The traditional rulers of Enugu East Zone signed as witnesses. Prof. Bart Nnaji also confirmed it recently. he said he was offered the Labour Party governorship ticket, but declined on account of the accord.

But Edeoga recently said he joined Labour Party over PDP’s failure to cede the presidential ticket to the South East

And you believed that? Would he have joined Labour Party if he had won the governorship primary? Are we fools?

Just like he claimed that the primary election that produced Mbah was not free and fair. That too is absolute falsehood and an afterthought. Besides, the honourable thing for him to have done after Ugwuanyi endorsed Dr. Mbah was to step down for him like others in the spirit of the accord. But Edeoga contested and managed an infinitesimal 9 votes out of the 804 valid votes. Mbah’s got 790 and it all happened in full glare of TV cameras.

Edeoga only changed his mind long after congratulating Mbah just because he feels he can benefit from the growing popularity of Peter Obi’s presidential candidacy in the South East. Can’t you see that he puts Obi’s picture beside his on his billboards? Edeoga can’t stand on his own, has never stood on his own. He owes whatever political offices he ever occupied to his in-laws, the Nwodo family and to Ugwuanyi.

So, Enugu people must be very careful in choosing their governor. Obi and Edeoga are different persons with different idiosyncrasies. Nobody should be deceived. Enugu people should ask to know what each governorship candidate has done outside serving in successive governments. They should ask to know what businesses they have successfully run, how many Nigerians and youths are employed by their respective businesses? We must weigh people on the strength of their individual character, competence, and manifesto.

 My message and message of almost every Mgbuji and Eha-Amufu man and woman to Edeoga is that someone, who couldn’t lead his community well can’t possibly lead Enugu State. Charity begins at home. He should make peace with his people first. Period.

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