In this interview with Fred Itua, Odinaka Okechukwu, one of the political chieftains, who recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), spoke on a wide range of issues including the politics of Enugu State.
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 one of your own, Chijioke Edeoga, is the governorship candidate.
Well, for almost all of us, it is a homecoming, not defection in the real sense of it. Virtually all of us were core and loyal members. Most of us were foundation members of the PDP in Isi-Uzo LGA, particularly in Mgbuji, which is Eha-Amufu Ward 3, before we decided to leave.
So, why did you leave in the first place?
We left because of the highhandedness, oppression, lack of vision, and absence of progressive philosophies among many of those, who held sway as political leaders under the platform of the PDP. They are so selfish and wicked to their own people. Imagine a situation where a so-called leader would tag his 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 work with and 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. So, for so many years now, many of us started leaving the party in droves. We formed a formidable opposition to impunity of a few to give the PDP a good fight in Eha-Amufu and Isi-Uzo. During the 2011 Local Council election, we made sure we won Eha-Amufu Ward 3, Chijioke Edeoga’s Ward.
So, what has changed? What informed your return?
We decided to return because we have seen the light after years of dark clouds. First, remember, we did not leave the PDP because it is bad to our people. We left because of some persons and their cohorts, and swore never to return so long as they are there. We cannot work with them because they lack progressive mindset. It has always been politics of oppression and “me, myself, and I”. For 25 years now, these people have suppressed everybody and made sure no one grew politically to challenge them in our community because they want to permanently tag themselves leaders of Mgbuji and Eha-Amufu. But now that they’ve left the PDP, and with the progressive leadership provided by the likes of the current Council Chairman, Obiora Obeagu and the State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Augustine Nnamani, we believe it is time to go back home.
In your speech at the event welcoming you back, you spoke about destruction of farms and property.
Yes, it is a case of people misusing their political positions to intimidate others, coveting and expropriating their landed properties.
Here is a December 2020 petition to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi dated. The title is: “Re: Unlawful and Forceful Expropriation of land from the Umu-Ugwu Nwebe Orube Family of Omulor, Mgbuji Autonomous Community, Eha-Amufu, Isi-Uzo LGA of Enugu State with Threats of Morbid Dimensions. It speaks for itself.
After, they changed tactics and came under the pretense of a plan to establish “Omulor Housing Estate” and claimed that the Enugu State Government had taken over the land. But it was a hoax to expropriate the said land. Our people filed a case at the Obollo Afor Division of the Enugu State High Court, which I also have here.
Yet, during the pendency of the case, thugs chased away the owners, and completely destroyed hectares of farm cassava belonging to these poor villagers, many of them widows. When villagers, elderly women inclusive, protested, these people went viral in the social media. They arrested a classroom teacher and Umu-Ugwu Nwebe Orube family leader, Mr. Silas Ofiagu on the false allegation of threat to life and used their influence to detain him from July 19 to 2nd August 2021 without regard to the rule of law. Here also is the list of over 38 villagers, whose farmlands were ruined. Feel free to call the numbers beside their names to confirm or get more details.
So, our people petitioned Governor Ugwuanyi again on July 25, 2021 asking for justice. 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 Enugu State High Court for the enforcement of Ofiagu’s rights.
So, when, such people tell you they want to be governor, you can imagine what they could do with full executive powers added to their mindless disposition.
Are you saying that Eha-Amufu and Isi-Uzo would rather vote for another candidate rather than your own brother?
This is the emotion the Labour Party candidate, Edeoga is trying to whip up and ride on. Unfortunately, it will not work because he does not have what it takes to be governor. He is lacking in capacity, empathy, competence, and dependability to be Enugu’s governor.
Besides, for the past 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 us, his kinsmen, what he has achieved for Isi-Uzo, Eha-Amufu and Mgbuji. 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 about 23 years after.
Besides, he signed an accord with about 18 or so other PDP governorship aspirants in Enugu East Senatorial District to support whomever Ugwuanyi endorsed. Despite this and despite even issuing a personally signed statement congratulating and calling on Enugu to support Mbah, he made a U-turn to Labour Party. Tomorrow, the same man will mount the podium to tell Enugu people stories during campaign.
Have you seen the accord?
Yes, of course. It was signed on May 19, 2022. The traditional rulers of Enugu East Zone signed as witnesses. You can verify from Igwe Julius Nnaji.
Edeoga recently claimed that he joined Labour Party over PDP’s failure to cede the presidential ticket to the South East. So, could he have relinquished a PDP governorship ticket for the same reason if he had won the primary? Are we fools?
We are just hearing from him after many months that the primary was not free and fair. That is absolute falsehood. Besides, most of the others stepped down for Mbah during the primary in the spirit of the accord and as honourable men.
He 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 he puts Obi beside him on his billboards? Edeoga can’t stand on his own.
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, 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.
From the comments by some political leaders from Enugu North Senatorial Zone, do you think that the PDP stands a chance in that zone?
Yes, of course. Forget the propaganda. The attacks you see on the person of Ugwuanyi and Dr. Peter Mbah are the handiworks of a few who genuinely but unjustly, felt he should have worked for old Nsukka zone to remain in power in perpetuity.
But the rest are people ganged up by those who desperately want to make their son-in-law, Edeoga, governor by whipping up old Nsukka zone sentiment.
I know Ugwuanyi would be the happiest man to see an Isi-Uzo man become governor someday because he has shown us love and development. But don’t forget that Ugwuanyi was an indigene of Isi-Uzo LGA until Udenu was created out of Isi-Uzo in 1981. Besides, Edeoga is his close maternal relation. All these must have informed his decision not to look in Isi-Uzo’s direction in search of his successor. Otherwise, it would appear like one LGA or a family holding power for 16 straight years. That, to me, is statesmanship and sense of justice. I am sure most of our people and even Enugu North people understand that and will overwhelmingly support him and Mbah.
As for Edeoga, a man who can’t lead his community well can’t possibly lead Enugu State because charity begins at home.