Odegene Finds A Way To Recover His Money

Odegene Finds A Way To Recover His Money

… Even as EFCC Investigates him for Fraud

By Godwin Ugwueze

Evarest Nnaji, best known as Odegene, has been a fixture in Enugu politics for some time now. He is one of those seasonal politicians who appear at the approach of every election year, stir some noise and disappear after the election is over.

In his first flush, he had run for the Senate and campaigned by throwing money down from a low-flying helicopter. This vulgar generosity saw people stampeding for money. Odegene’s lack of refinement contradicts his years of residence in the United States of America.

Odegene resurfaced again during the primary election of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), against the 2023 elections. Buoyed by a false promise from the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, he began to construct roads for his people as evidence of leadership and public-spiritedness. More skeptical people who knew Odegene pointed out that he was trying to hoodwink the people. Before politics, Odegene was not given to philanthropy. He was rather remarkable for always trying to impress with his suspicious wealth.

Perhaps, getting wind of what the outcome of the PDP primary elections would be, Odegene boycotted it. He told everyone who was available to listen that the governor beguiled him into plunging his resources in public projects. He did not hide how embittered he was. There was no love lost, therefore, between Odegene and the man who fed him false hopes.

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Now it looks like an opportunity has presented itself for the strange bedfellows to get over their differences and for Odegene to recover his money. The emergence of Barr. Chijioke Jonathan Edeoga as the candidate of the Labour Party in the Enugu governorship election is giving the ruling PDP sleepless nights. And this has landed Odegene a new role in the fast-unfolding political drama.

Odegene has allegedly been drafted by PDP in Enugu State to put spanner in the works of the Labour Party in the state. Materializing almost from the blues, he absurdly began to parade himself as the Labour gubernatorial candidate for the election. Remarkably, he is neither a member of the Labour Party, nor was he anywhere to be seen during the processes that produced a candidate for the party.

When, in accordance with the Electoral Act and other relevant laws, the Chairman of the Labour party in Enugu and placeholder for a governorship candidate, Casmir Agbo, peacefully handed the ticket over to Barr. Edeoga, Odegene was not in thepicture. But the call came and with it the opportunity.

There are obvious reasons why the ruling PDP are unsettled about the emergence of Barr. Chijioke Edeoga and are doing everything to scuttle his campaign. People say that the Ugwuanyi-led government in Enugu State has been an unmitigated disaster. There is a groundswell of discontent in the state and the chances of the PDP to retain Lion Building are diminishing, especially with the rise of the Peter Obi phenomenon.

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There are piles of unpaid salaries, pension and gratuities. The state is being overrun by waste and decay. The gains made by the state under former Governor, Sullivan Chime, have been negated by the incompetence of the present administration. Even the road built by Chime which leads to Governor Ugwuanyi’s country home, is falling apart, riddled with potholes.

And there are reports that corruption has never been more brazen in the governance of Enugu State. For instance, there are stage-managed solidarity visits to Ugwuanyi that is costing the government millions in taxpayers money. And many dubious groups are taking advantage of Ugwuanyi’s depleting status, as well as mounting fears, yo cash out.

Now, the accumulated feelings of dissatisfaction and betrayal are making the Enugu people hanker for alternative. The Nsukka cultural zone which is believed to hold about 58 per cent of viting power is also rising against the governor and his preferred candidate, Barr. Peter Mba. Currently, it is becoming increasingly evident that Edeoga has the brightest chances of succeeding Ugwuanyi as governor. This is why they are desperate to ensure that Edeoga, who is from Enugu East Senatorial zone, just as Mba, but has strong affiliations in the Nsukka area, does not run.

Unfortunately, a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has put a stop to Odegene’s ambition, allegedly funded by Ugwuanyi. Grapevine says that he was given about N2 billion to play dirty with Edeoga’s campaign. And this is hardly surprising.

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According public records, Odegene is no stranger to suspicious dealings. Currently, he is a co-defendant of one Victor Uadiale with whom he is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC) for defrauding one Tawfeeq A. Al-Omar, a Kuwaiti national, of the staggering sum of five million dollars. According to court documents, in 1998 they sold their unsuspecting victim the false story that they would supply him with urea phosphate fertilizer. Enthusiastic about a seemingly fabulous business deal, the victim paid and the duo vanished with the money.

In political rallies, Odegene loves to represent himself as a successful entrepreneur and wonderful pilot. But this is the story of his wealth. In a political rally before the primary election, Chimaroke Nnamani, a former governor of Enugu State had told Odegene to his face and within the hearing of everybody that it is over his dead body that a known fraudster would be the governor of Enugu state. They came close to exchanging blows before being separated by interveners.

And many people believe that he is on one of schemes again, trading the fortunes and future of Enugu State and the people for lucre.

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