Senator Araraume- The Battled, the Battles

By Stanley U Okoroji
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A renowned Catholic sacerdot and university Don, Prof Jerome I. Okonkwo, during his Lenten homily at St Joseph Chaplaincy IMSU Owerri, explored the Sunday reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans (8:31-34) not from the backdrop of Christian’s hope, but of certified destiny before God. According to him, “No matter the battles and embattling, what is destined is destined. Whoever fights the destiny of a man is fighting God. It is destiny that brought us to existence, we are alive today because God has destiny for us to accomplish, and it must be accomplished. No man can fight God or the destiny of a man and succeeds...”

This homily pulled my mind instantly to reflect on the person of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, who as a politician has turned to a combatant and an embattled grand statesman in Imo politics. Senator Araraume has been battled since 2007, when he left the Senate after representing Imo North (Okigwe zone) in the Upper Chamber of the National House Assembly.

Senator Araraume in accordance with the gentleman’s agreement on Imo charter of equity and zoning came out from the Senate, towards the end of Udenwa’s 8 years as Imo State Governor, to contest the governorship seat shifted then to Okigwe by the zoning chart. Forces rose against him from the balcony of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who alone knew the reasons for such hatred on Araraume, whom he referred to as ‘a big thief,’ in comparison to ‘a bigger thief’ that was perceived coming up in Imo 2011 guber elections.

The hatred came down to the Imo PDP, which later led to the imbroglio (party clashes and court cases) between PDP-factions of Ifeanyi Araraume and Charles Ugwu, which the other had the party ticket and another the party flag unrelenting. He was sacked from the party. The fiasco ultimately led to the emergence of Ohakim from the PPA as Governor, with the (later fulfilling the) agreement to decamp to the PDP afterwards. Araraume like Martin Agbaso, went to the Electoral Tribunal to contest Ohakim’s winning and both lost to Ohakim.

In 2011, Senator Araraume, returned for the gubernatorial race under PDP platform and in the primaries against Ohakim who newly defected to the party. Ohakim saw his kinsman’s coming as political onslaught, and thus devised various forms of attack on Araraume. He produced a campaign jingle and GSM ring-back tune ridiculing an unmentioned person’s pedigree, which the exposés in the Insider Magazine of December 20, 2010 suggest Araraume as the insinuated personality. This tune remained even till date and may come up again to the public as battling antic.

Araraume’s ambition perhaps was a move projected by what Uche Bialonwu called the long claws of fate, and perhaps his move then was seen as a plot against his co-Isiala Mbano politician, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who was then running for his second term bid as Imo State Governor.

At this epoch, there were pillories from the former EFCC Boss, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who first declared Araraume as ‘a not-good-to-be’ and most unfit guber candidate in Imo State. Yet, he that was the most fit for Nigeria became the ACN’s best president that never be. This tainted Araraume’s political image as Ribadu then was seen as a very credible Nigerian and presidential candidate in 2011. The then ACN Presidential candidate later recanted on his former pillory and declared Araraume as ‘the most qualified’ Imo guber candidate for the 2011 governorship election in the State.

Prior to these, there had been serial attacks on the person and political image of Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, which perhaps contributed in the forming and maintenance of the allegedly perceived personality carriage of political combatant and thus master of the Imo political game, intrigues and ploys. To this effect, political ploys and battles do not scare or deter him, but gives and ensures him the staying power.

Thus, at anterior times, at the unset of his senatorial regime, a youth forum of the Okigwe senatorial PDP zone petitioned against him, with copies of the denigrating petitions delivered to the appropriate authorities, yet the embattled Araraume remained who he is. Araraume’s kinsmen in several petitions, alerted the world that he had fake certificates- B.Sc and M.Sc, all tending to tarnish his political image, but these have all become history as his vilifications were vindicated by posterity and the enemies of man blown to oblivion.

Similarly, the Nation newspaper of Monday, November 15, 2010 relayed a vilifying advertorial on Araraume, which was projected by the Concerned Founding Members of ACN, captioned: “Why Udenwa and Araraume Are Now Political Liabilities in Imo.” Therein, he was labelled with Chief Udenwa as political lepers, while some columnists in Imo local dailies called them ‘men of unholy alliance.’ Thus the Alliance for Good Governance became a political diablo in Imo State, to the discomfort and ennui of the party and government in power. Today, the Concerned Founding Members of ACN are dead without possibility of reincarnation.

The Source Magazine of October 28, 2002, also slurred Araraume while giving a run-down detail of all the criminal allegations levelled against him. Some of these allegations were generated from the Sunday Champion of July 30, 1995. But, the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria did not hunt him with hawks as previewed by the plotters in 2002. These were dragged to settlement with the Daily Champion of Tuesday, December 4, 2007 in its interview with Araraume.

More so, the Insider Magazine of December 20, 2010 gave wider and all-round accusations on Senator Araraume- His pedigree and score-card at the Senate (1999-2007). Many alleged sleazes were maliciously and allegedly dug out. These were meant to disqualify him for the 2011 gubernatorial bid.

In same vein, the Nigerian Horn, December 24-28, 2010, also libelled Senator Araraume with the caption: “This man wants to rule IMO.” The publication was powered by the FOURTH FORCE, and took the entire journals’ front and back cover pages. It explored same dimensions of the Insider Magazineabove, which revealed unique provenance of the vilification. Yet, almost 6 years after, same Nigerian Horn turned friendly and in its October 12-13, 2015 edition, it saw him as a candidate that “needs no blessing of anybody because he has his political structures and everything that it takes if he is interested in the race.”

Also, the Announcer Express then, was consistently replete with diverse vilifying publications, especially its Wednesday, March 2-3, 2011 edition that aimed at attacking the political image of Senator Araraume. These also came from the Fourth Force. Today, the Fourth Force is dead with its aim and objectives, and the Announcer Express expressly announces and packages Senator Araraume.

At the end of the 2011 PDP guber elections, Araraume and Ohakim lost. Rochas came like the demonic Eastern wind from Persia, and like Dairus, snatched the victory from Ohakim. This turned Araraume’s defeat a pyrrhic victory for Ohakim. Thus, Okigwe zone now crying foul on the disrupted zoning in Imo State loosed their God-given turn in the equity charter. Had Araraume not battled Ohakim then, and remembered zoning, his second term bid might have been successful and the zoning could have remained intact and maintained till date, as zoning is best settled and ensured with and by the party in power. What opposition does is to wrestle for power and to oust the ruling party,

In 2014, Araraume returned again and reconciled with the PDP and came out for the 2015 gubernatorial elections. Ohakim and Araraume were there again, and played unrelenting combats, reprisals and vendetta-gimmicks. Araraume felt unjustly treated with the victory against him, at the favour of the first timer, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha. He lost again, went on retreat and re-bounced at once for decisive onslaughts on Emeka Ihedioha on the eve days of the 2015 governorship election, with his millennium political ploys. Thus the Destiny camp of the Imo PDP and its entire State structure emptied to Gov Rochas Okorocha’s Rescue Mission APC, another unholy alliance. This emptying was obviously a vendetta and reprisal on the Imo PDP for making history really cyclic about him.

Now in a new and ruling party (both at the State and national levels), is Senator Araraume really welcomed? What is the rapport between him and Gov Okorocha, (whom his structure-emptying contributed to the mesmerisation of apex guber opponent Emeka Ihedioha and thus to the triumph of Rochas at the 2015 polls amidst some other remote and immediate causes and contributing factors)? Perhaps without this ploy, an Owerri zone man would have won the election and the zoning/equity charter restored. Is Senator Araraume in peace with the Imo APC today or are there some cold wars going on? How is his relationship with Gov Okorocha? Why nominate his son-in-law than Araraume as alleged during the eve-days of the 2015 guber election in Imo State? Has their camaraderie turned to renegade as with the Agbasos and Okorocha?

Given the unborn dimension Rochas has conceived the 2019 Imo APC guber, will Araraume succeed or be rubbished again? Certainly, he has grown thick skins against calumnies and ploys, but structural games are on. As a combatant with heavy staying power and imaginative excess, and as the Rescue Mission General is bowing out, will Araraume excavate the issue of the original owners of the APC (the CPC, ANPP and ACN factions), and rubbish the Rescue Mission aspirants loyal to Okorocha as derivatives of Imo APGA in the APC merger? If he does, will he succeed, given the determination of Owerri zone guber aspirants to take over the Douglas House this time, and with one mind?

Now, another battle era has come. Once a General, always a General; once a Senator, always a Senator, and a Senator-General and combatant, is a master of the political game. What are the chances of Araraume not succeeding this time, given the fracas in Gov Okorocha’s camp? Apart from the rescue Mission camp, is there any other strong camp or structure that can challenge the combatant in the APC primaries? Does Rochas think that as an outgoing-Governor, he has same force as an incumbent or is he not aware of the problematic with packaging his outing steps and ensuring absolute complex coverage for any possible racketeering?

A head of the APC conventions and primaries, Araraume certainly has other battles to face. There is Rt. Hon Acho Ihim to battle and share the APC delegates’ vote from Okigwe zone and beyond. Also, if Rochas succeeds in nominating and backing Uche Nwosu, then Araraume should be thinking of how to sort it out with Chief Ikedi Ohakim or Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha at the guber election proper. If Ohakim wins the PDP primaries then Araraume is in for a replay of the old battles and vendettas. If Ihedioha wins either, Araraume will fight another round of battle with Ihedioha. If Ihedioha loses, and Araraume wins, he will certainly embark on reprisals on him.

On the contrary, if Gov Okorocha later unveils Barr Chima Anozie (Home Base) or Engr. Chuks Ololo or Sir Jude Ejiogu from Owerri zone (in accordance with his earliest promises and vows, being a man of his words, to return the power to Owerri zone), and projects Uche Nwosu as Deputy Gov, and thus backs the candidacy as rumoured, then Araraume is in for another serious trouble, as the Owerri and Orlu zone APC delegates will float to the chosen one and his fourth defeat looms.

Of a truth, insinuations from the Governor shows that he will support an Owerri capital territory APC aspirant towards the eve of the primaries, or if the combatant and other aspirants heats up the party, his ADP is by the side to accommodate his chosen one, and thus an extended battle for Araraume. These battles notwithstanding, the outcome of the Imo PDP primaries ought to determine the degree and dimension of battles awaiting Araraume come 2019, especially if PDP finishes its primaries before the APC. One also remembers APGA and the forces therewith.

Imolites, social analysts and pundits are watching with keen interests another battle time between the Generals and masters of the Imo political game and ploys. Of a truth, more masters of the game will come out soonest to ransack the warfront. Up till now, most of them are silent- Martin and Jude Agbaso, Hope Uzodimma, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Humphery Anumudu, Alex Obi, Achike Udenwa, etc.

However, quod scripti scripti; quid sera sera! No man can undo destiny or manipulate it. If Araraume is destined to rule Imo, he will succeed this time, as he has a smother ground now than ever, and if he is not, the outcome of his fourth outing ought to be a proof for him and thus his retirement like Ezekiel Izogu and Alex Obi from elective politics in Imo State becomes imperative.

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