• Says Ugwuanyi’s hard work ’ll fetch him smooth re-election
By Owelle Odumegwu
Consummate philanthropist, businessman and Special Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Chief Ejikeme Odumegwu (Owelle of Nsukka) is currently refurbishing all police stations in Enugu State. A lawyer and politician, he has lifted many lives and supported several churches through his charity organisation – Owelle Ejikeme Odumegwu, (OEO) Foundation.
In this interview, he tells CHUKS EZE that OEOF is undertaking the police facelift project not just to encourage the Nigeria Police and support the federal government but also to advance Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s style of accommodating, protecting and caring for all residents of Enugu State irrespective of political, religious or cultural affiliations.
What prompted you to singlehandedly undertake the refurbishing of all police stations under Enugu State Command?
God prompted me. Many things that I do are borne out of God’s inspiration.
The on-going facelift of Police Stations in Enugu State was divinely motivated, and it is being undertaken by my foundation – Owelle Ejikeme Odumegwu Foundation (OEOF), a non-governmental, non-profit organisation. I set up the charity foundation specifically to cater for the poor, indigent widows, downtrodden and the needy as a whole.
How did the Nigeria Police come into the frame; is the force downtrodden too?
The police fall within the category of the needy. They are in dire need of assistance from private individuals and corporate organisations because government alone cannot fund the Police effectively.
I appreciate the fact that the duty of the Police is not only essential but sacrosanct too. So, in order for us, as a society, to achieve optimum efficiency in policing our society, we should partner the police.
There is a popular saying that whenever the Police are determined to do their job, they do it perfectly well. But they should be encouraged and motivated to be very effective.
That is exactly what I am doing through OEOF. I was once pressed to visit some police facilities in Enugu State and when I went round, I saw falling and dilapidated structures, even leaking roofs, which made a mockery of the Police. So, I decided to give Enugu Police a new look through my Foundation.
(To start with) I formally wrote the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State command, seeking his approval, which he granted immediately. Before then, I had earlier commenced work at the Divisional Police Headquarters in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area. That was after I had discovered the goodness and humility in the former DPO of Igbo-Eze North LGA, CSP AkaeneOnyeamu, now in charge of Abakaliki Road Police Station, GRA, Enugu, along with his DCO, ASP OneleChuks George.
How would you rate the Enugu Police in terms of performance?
Enugu is the most Police-friendly State and also the State with lowest crime rates in Nigeria. I commend the State Commissioner of Police Mr Dan MallamMuhammed, and his men for always exhibiting high measure of professionalism in their operation.
There is still room for improvement, though. But, the initial kidnapping and other security challenges in the state have been dealt with and Enugu State is calm now. I also commend Governor IfeanyiUgwuanyi for his unprecedented approach to security issues in the state.
As a result of the recent establishment of neighbourhood watch in rural communities all over the state, residents can now sleep and even snore with both eyes closed in the state. These efforts put together stand as attraction to my contribution.
You can only snore at night when the city is calm. People usually troop in from various parts of the country and beyond to rest in Enugu all because the city is calm. And I am certain that the governor has also been awesome in his collaboration, contributions and availability to the Police.
That is why they always speak nicely of him. That is also why we are supporting the governor to provide the Police with more conducive working environment.
Do you intend to complete the project before the 2019 general election; and do you have plans to extend the project beyond Enugu State?
Yes, the project will be completed before 2019 election. If God gives us the grace, we may even finish it under one or two months. But it has nothing to do with 2019 election or any election for that matter. I am a politician, but I am not running for any elective office at present and I am not using it as any campaign strategy.
And as regards extending the project beyond the State, I want to state that even the one that we are doing now is our little contribution to the federal government because Police is a federal agency. However, if God directs us to move beyond Enugu State and provides the resources, we shall move beyond Enugu State.
By the way, congratulations on your recent appointment as Special Adviser to Governor Ugwuanyi
Thank you very much. And I seize this medium to appreciate my governor, Rt. Hon. IfeanyiUgwuanyi, on behalf of myself, my family, Umuopu Community and Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area, for finding me worthy of such appointment.
You must be happy that your candidate emerged winner of Igbo-Eze North Local Government Council Chairman and has been sworn in, aren’t you?
You should know that ComradeUwakweEzeja emerged the winner not just because he was my candidate, but also based on his antecedents and popularity. To God be the glory.
Are you still in PDP?
You just congratulated me on my recent appointment as SPA to my governor, didn’t you?
Being a strong PDP member, why are you funding the Police, a federal agency under APC-controlled federal government?
What I am doing is not borne out of politics; it has nothing to do with party ideology or affiliation but the wellbeing of our citizens and visitors to our State. I am joining hands with the present administration to build our nation, particularly my state governor, the hardworking Rt. Hon. IfeanyiUgwuanyi. He is a great leader and a man upon whose shoulder we rest our oars. We should not expect the government to do everything all alone, especially under the prevailing economic difficulties in Nigeria, when government is striving to cope with workers’ salaries.
We are aware of the Specialist Hospital that you are constructing for your people back home, among other charities. What other humanitarian projects is OEOF undertaking at present?
I told you that all my undertakings are divinely inspired. So, whatever challenge that may arise is God’s challenge, not mine. Another thing is that the support that we extend to various churches is between us and God and I desist from discussing them in the media.
Every support that God has allowed us the grace to extend to several churches across different denominations, is to His glory. As you may know, I started with my local church where we extended support to, and laid the foundation of,the proposed Specialist Hospital,which will be donated to my community, through the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese.
We have supported the on-going church building project of my parish and a few other churches around, including support for indigent widows and award of scholarships to some indigent students, among others. From there, we proceeded to construct a Police Station in Etteh, Igbo-Eze North Council Area. We later moved to the Divisional Police Station in Igbo-Eze North to construct peripheral fencing, with a befitting gate, and general renovation.
It was after that that we commenced the current project of refurbishing all the police stations in the Enugu State Command. All that we are doing is to accomplish what the Prophesy has said.
As I said earlier, whatever God directs me to do is what I do. People have been asking me to contest for this and that and I decline and tell them that I have got no message to that effect. However, being a politician, whenever such message comes, I would have no choice than to yield to their request.
Moreso, in line with our support to the police, we are currently undertaking the training of the Nigerian Police Force on human rights and rule of law to effect a core police-friendliness to the citizenry. This was in agreement with the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim K. Idris. The exercise is already on-going in Enugu State and the entire 36 states of the federation.
We gathered that you are also undertaking some road projects in your area; how true is that?
I earlier told you that I stand to support the candid administration of Governor IfeanyiUgwuanyi, who obviously commenced road construction in my local government, recently, and as a result, I decided to join him in grading some rural roads, particularly in my community, Umuopu. As we speak, I also intend to extend my charity to other sectors, God willing.
What sort of discouragement do you get from friends, associates and family members for using your hard-earned money to do charity?
That is if I am ready to lend ears to anybody in that regard. It takes just me to obey God’s directives; I do not take advice from anybody in respect of what is between me and my God.
So, you are aware that some people are questioning your source of wealth?
O yes, I am. I am also aware that some people are suspecting that I am doing all these to prepare grounds for my election bid. But, all I say to them is that this is divine mandate. All those envying us will soon join us. My wealth and what I do with it is between me and God.
Now that you are governor’s aid; are you going to suspend OEOF in order not to offend your boss?
The thing is that the governor is aware of all that I am doing and he is happy about it. He knows that I do it to better the lives of our people and he sees what I am doing as part of his projects and that I am only assisting the State. He sees my input as good stewardship.
In 2014/2015, you were all over the state and the country as well, with your GGSG and NYSGG mobilising for candidates Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on one hand and Jonathan/Sambo Presidency on another. Are both groups still on ground to mobilize support for Ugwuanyi and Presidential polls, as 2019 approaches?
Sure, they are! When it comes to 2019 election, as regards Enugu State,Ugwuanyi’s victory is assured based on his performance. He is an all-embracing governor, who carries everybody along with love, humility and respect. His hard work will definitely fetch him smooth re-election. Governor Ugwuanyi is running his first tenure and conventionally, we all know that he must be there for his second term.
As regards national mobilization, my structures are still intact nationwide. The GGSG, (GburuGburu Support Group) as you know, is always on ground and ready to make things happen for Governor Ugwuanyi, while my NYSGG (National
Youth Solidarity for Good Governance), which is a separate group, is also intact and formidable nationwide. I founded it, just like I founded the GGSG, and I still have my 10 very committed and vibrant coordinators in all the 774 local government areas in the country intact.
If you multiply 10 by 774, you would realise the kind of impact that only my coordinators can make when the chips are down – when we choose our preferred Presidential candidate for 2019!