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Why Enugu People Should Not Vote Edeoga: Odinaka Okechukwu

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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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Controversy, Protest Trail Teachers Recruitment In Anambra

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Some candidates who participated in the teachers’ recruitment exercise in Anambra State have protested their exclusion from the list of those finally selected.

 

Two of the candidates who spoke to our correspondent in Awka, on Monday, on behalf of the aggrieved candidates, accused the state ministry of education and the Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board of failing to follow due process in the recruitment process and final selection.

The state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, had on Friday, presented appointment letters to 5,000 teachers recently recruited in the state. The presentation took place at the International Conference Centre, Awka.

 

Soludo said the exercise was a fulfilment of his campaign promises.

But while speaking to our correspondent on the matter, one of the candidates, who identified herself as Chioma Evelyn, from Njikoka Local Government Area of the state, said having scored 71.5 per cent as total aggregate, she was not selected while those who scored far below were chosen, wondering the criteria that were adopted in the final selection.

The 31-year-old Evelyn lamented that her name which was initially on the original list was omitted from the final list without any tangible explanation, adding that some candidates who are close to some people in the corridors of power were chosen based on favouritism.

 

She said, “I did the documentation under ASUBEB and my name was the second on the original list with them, but when the list was finally submitted, they omitted my name. My aggregate score is 71.5 per cent, but to my surprise, people who scored 50 per cent were selected.

“Majority of us who scored above 70 per cent have this same issue. Some of us scored 90 per cent, without being chosen, while people who scored 50 per cent were taken. Nobody is telling us why it is so and why our names were removed at the last minute.

 

“They never told us they will use any special criteria in the selection process, some of us were at the ICC during the inauguration of the teachers, and we approached the commissioner for education, but she only told us that the matter will be looked into.

“I do not deserve to be omitted as people who scored far below were selected. I was documented, and my name appeared on the original list from the ministry of education, but what happened at the last minute, is something no one has explained.”

 

Another candidate, who gave her name as Ijeoma Okeke, from Idemili North Local Government Area, accused the ASUBEB and the ministry of education of selecting people at random without following the cut-off criteria.

Okeke said, “I scored 72 per cent in the interview and my overall aggregate score is 70.5 per cent, but I was not selected, I applied for Biology. My surprise is that those who scored far below made up the list.

 

“My name was initially on the list, I did my documentation on November 15, but when they brought out the final list, I did not find my name there. I went to the office of ASUBEB, and the chairman told me that it was an omission, but a staff in that office, told me that those who did not have B.Ed or NCE were removed.

“Initially, they did not tell us it must be B.Ed or NCE. They told us to apply and that on-the-job training will be given to successful applicants, but now, they have turned everything upside down. Our names were intentionally removed because they were selecting people at random after the interview without following the cut-off criteria.

“I have gone to ASUBEB and I was told to report to my local government in Idemili North.”

 

When contacted, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, insisted that due process was followed in the recruitment process, regretting that the protesters did not appreciate the governor’s magnanimity in recruiting 5,000 teachers at a stretch in this difficult time.

“We have more than 40,000 persons, who applied for this job. After the recruitment exercises, we have as many as 8,000 candidates qualified and suitable in different subject areas. Meanwhile, we have limited spaces of 5,000 slots to fill.

 

“What we did was that In the recruitment process, we allotted 40 per cent to merit, 20 per cent to LGAs of origin, and 10 per cent to educationally disadvantaged areas like Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Ogbaru and others. We also allotted 20 per cent to core subject areas, and 10 per cent to technical subjects.

“71 per cent or 72 per cent aggregates are good scores, but if the person is not favoured by any of the criteria above, he cannot get the job.

 

“For instance, if 200 slots are allocations for a local government based on merit, and if 210 persons got 80 per cent and above in a particular LGA, certainly, a candidate scoring 72 per cent cannot get the job. We cannot allow what belongs to another LGA to you from a different LGA because you score higher grades.

“We cannot recruit somebody whose subject area is not relevant to our schools’ curriculum because he has a high aggregate in the exam.

“Again, somebody from educationally disadvantaged areas like Ayamelum could be recruited with 50 per cent aggregate; but somebody from Awka South who has 72 per cent aggregates may not secure the job; based on certain considerations. We must understand these dynamics,” Chuma-Udeh added.

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Abia Government Fails To Show Commitment To Doctors’ Salaries

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As the 21-day ultimatum given to the Abia State Government by medical doctors to pay Abia State University Teaching Hospital their salary arrears comes to an end, the government has yet to show any serious commitment to that course.

 

In a communique issued at the End of an Emergency General Meeting of the Nigerian Medical Association, Abia State branch held at their Aba Zonal Secretariat, on Sunday, December 4, 2022, the doctors regretted the inability of the state government to honour that ultimatum.

 

They noted that doctors working at ABSUTH and HMB are currently owed between 21 and 25 months and 13 months of salary arrears respectively.

“The 21 days Ultimatum approved by the National Executive Council of NMA and given to the Abia govt on Nov 17, 2022, to clear the aforementioned salary arrears is currently in its 17th day.

 

“That doctors working with ABSUTH and HMB are currently undergoing untold hardship.

Following their deliberation on the above-mentioned, the NMA Abia State in their resolution signed by Dr Abali Isaiah, the Chairman and Dr Daniel Ekeleme, the Secretary, condemned in strongest terms the non-payment of the Doctors in ABSUTH and HMB adding, “Our Ultimatum to the ABSG still stands and running”.

 

They insisted on the payment of what is owed to Doctors as a condition to avert the impending strike.

According to them, “failure to meet the above-mentioned demands on or before 8th of December 2022 would force all Doctors in Federal, State, and private sectors in Abia State to proceed on total and indefinite strike.

 

“The ABSG should be held responsible for any medical mishap that may occur during the period of industrial disharmony.”

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Frank Nweke Jr. Receives Prayers, Goodwill From The People Of Nkanu East

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The governorship candidate of the all Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Frank Nweke Jr was on Tuesday, showered with prayers and expressions of goodwill as he takes his campaign train to Nkanu East where he sought to know firsthand from the people their needs and to discuss how he would solve them.

Nweke visited Amagunze, Nkerefi and Nume-Unateze communities with his running mate, Dr. Edith Ugwuanyi, candidates for other positions and other top members of APGA in Nkanu East Local Government Area.

On the visit, the indigenes of the various communities expressed delight and prayed for God to bless Nweke and that he should succeed in his quest to bring good governance to Enugu State.

A shop owner at the Eke Amagu-Nze market who spoke in Igbo stated as follows (translated):
“My name is Helen Eze from Umunevu Amagu-Nze. Frank Nweke’s coming to our community fills my heart with Joy. I am thank God or that and I am praying for God to take charge of this visit so that everything will go well according to His plans.

I pray that God will manifest in his quest and show that He is truly God, that since it pleases God to make him come to see us here in Amagu-Nze, that He will take total charge as God. Thank you.”

Another indigene, trader at the market, Mr. Emmanuel Eze
“The way is see it, he is the person that will bring development to our state, Enugu. He is the one God brought and my prayer is that he will governance so as to wipe our tears because we have suffered so much in this town. That is what I am saying. I am also praying that that he must succeed and he will fix our place to be nice, he will build our town, build our market, repair our roads. That is what I pray for.”

As for Mrs. Janet Ani, another trader at the market, the governorship candidate “should remember us, the poor, we that don’t have much, so that God will help him do what he is supposed to do. This is because is good for someone to remember those situation is better than theirs.”

The Chairman of drinks sellers association, Pa Oniche (Agu Amagu) was like the rest of the people delighted by Nweke’s visit to Amagu.
In his words:
“His (Nweke Jr’s) visit took us by surprise. We are very happy for his visit. Anything that is being contested is challenging, but our prayers is that Frank Nweke Jr. should win. This is because if he wins with APGA, we the people of Nkanu East will benefit immensely from top to bottom. APGA is the party for Ndi-Igbo. By God’s grace the party there will change and APGA will rule our state, even Nigeria, also in Nkanu East. For that, we the drinks sellers will be very happy.”

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