By Kelechi Mejuobi
The just concluded Yuletide season offered one an opportunity to relax and unwind greatly after a busy schedule that spanned from January to December 2017. Since I retired to the countryside to observe the holiday, relaxing at entertainment outlets became part of my pastime means of not just cooling off the tempo but also mark the Christmas and New Year season.
One popular outlet in my locality provided an opportunity to engage in regular fellowship; a meeting of like minds who sit over some drinks and chewable. It became a kind of Ministry, a close ally involved in the regular “Fellowship” branded “St Bottles and Fish Parish” But beyond the facade of just chilling out with cold items and assorted swallow at the prominent Sitout bar was the thought provoking discussions the “ministry” members engage in anytime the “Congregation” is in full swing.
It was in one of such sessions that the issue of Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume came up. Araraume is a businessman cum politician from Isiebu in Isiala Mbano LGA of Imo State. A two-time Senator that represented Okigwe Zone in the past and presently blessed by the Buhari administration with appointment as a federal commissioner in one of the top class government agencies. He is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC and rumoured to be once again interested in becoming the governor of the state.
In one of congregation’s fellowship at the “Ministry” I was chanced to eavesdrop their discussion, centred on Araraume. Initially, the topic of that particular day was on the acclaimed hardship in Imo State, the state Government, was accused of afflicting on the people through the destruction of major markets in the state capital, dislocation of Mechanic Village residents and banning of the popular means of transport, the tricycles, otherwise known as Keke operation in the municipality, before they migrated into politics. While the contributors raged with various comments on the trending developments in the state, one of the discussants introduced issues related to womenfolk. Hardly did the “gossip” on women gain ground before a fellow cut the conversation shot with the Araraume matter by introducing politics. According to the fellow, he just left a gathering of political leaders in his area after a visit of Araraume to the stakeholders. Said he “Nnaaa, ke di ihe Arararume choro na ime Govt House, Owerri (My friends what does Araraume wants in Govt House). Another replied “Nnaa, amaghi kwam ooh” ( Friends , I don’t know ooh). Then one offered, “Nnaa Nwoke ahu di kwa ka o bu ya bu Onye Nzoputa ndi imoro ga acho na 2019” (Friends, is like the man is the saviour Imolites need in 2019). The interesting argument about Araraume and 2019 governorship commenced in earnest with mixed opinions about the perceived interest of the fair skinned Senator. After a dosage of divergent views, the fellow, who introduced the Araraume matter noted that he had to bring up the issue and make the first comment because he does not know what the politician wants in Govt House considering the repeated times the Senator had sought to become Imo State Governor since the nascent democracy debuted. The subject matter of the discussion was the interest of Araraume in Douglas House, a pet name for the Government House, Owerri, the incumbent has branded “People’s House”
The topic of the members of the fellowship is in tandem with a major reigning name in the political hemisphere of the state; known as Araraume. The politician needs no introduction in Imo state politics no wonder he has become a household name in the state. Since grapevine sources revealed that he is one of the hopefuls angling to succeed Okorocha in 2019, his name has received enough mention in public domain. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised at the content of the discussion as I changed my seat to gain vintage position to observe the proceedings but not without asking the service personnel at the bar to replace the bottles.
One of them who I noticed had maintained a studied silence when the issue came up suddenly asked all why won’t Araraume want something in Govt House. When the Congregation fired him with a question on what he forgot, the fellow opined that the soft talking senator is the best governor Imo is yet to have, adding that the same fate that befell President Buhari in 2015 will do same to Araraume in 2019. The fellow indicated that after several attempts to become President in previous elections failed, God answered PMB and it came to pass in the last general elections. He added that it is the turn of Araraume to receive same favours in 2019, hence the desire of the politician from Isiala Mbano to keep alive the flame of governing Imo.
The views of last speaker received a back up from another contributor who imported biblical quotations in his narration. While stating that one may witness disappointment at some point in life, failing is a learning experience so we can do better next time. To him, Araraume may be drawing inspiration from Psalm 40:2-3, which states “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord”
Others expressed that after a disappointing outing in previous outings, 2019 is Araraume’s year.
A thoroughbred politician with a sound pedigree in gathering followers around him, Araraume secured an amazing status in the state’s politics when he won elections to represent Okigwe Zone in the Senate a record second time; 1999-2003 and 2003-2007. The privileged position provided him with the necessary platform to establish a strong political formation, otherwise known as the Destiny Organisation, that has stand the test of time.
On completion of two terms at the National Assembly, Araraume sought to become Governor in 2007. Araraume’s storyline on the race to Douglas House may need extra pages this newspaper may not grant in one edition. But followers of political development in Imo state can recall the tinge of drama that characterized the conduct of primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2007. After the conduct that saw Araraume emerge victorious, for yet to be disclosed reasons, the party’s leadership anchored by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, working in concert with some elements at the home front engaged in an abortion of political process by shortchanging the Senator with another candidate. But a Supreme Court decision returned Araraume as the authentic PDP flag bearer for the 2007 election. A conspiracy of a sort denied him the chance to become the governor when the party not only suspended him but went ahead to ask its members not to vote for his candidacy at the polls. The rest is history.
In 2011, his quest to occupy Government House again saw him join the fray and became the governorship candidate of the defunct ACN. The emergence of Okorocha under APGA a governor settled that era.
As if he is driven by divine forces to become number the one citizen of Imo State and perhaps make meaningful impact in the growth of the state, a spirited effort to make his dream become reality saw Araraume brace the odds to become a top contender for 2015 PDP ticket race for governorship. An admixture of controversy and complaints were the highlights of the PDP primaries. The end result was loss of the chance to be in Government House, Owerri.
Apparently not wanting to be left out in the scheme of things and in a broad desire to keep the desire going, Araraume joined the APC and became instrumental to the second term election victory of Okorocha in 2015 when he shifted his political machinery from PDP to APC. Propelled by innate forces to serve humanity and mankind, Araraume is back on the track again for 2019.
As programs for next elections begin to gather interest, Araraume is back to the familiar terrain of asking to be Governor of Imo State which somehow could be responsible for the question on the lips of the “fellowship” members in the “Ministry” who are eager to find out what he wants in Govt House, Owerri, to warrant persistent request each election year since 2007.
The following became a fallout of the interaction as many joined to discuss about Araraume. Said to be one of high flying entrepreneurs from the South East zone with flourishing business outfits, Araraume is quoted to be worried about the state of affairs in the state hence his desire to transfer his successful imprints from the private sector to governance of the state, the senator has designed a blueprint of a road map to the rediscovery of the state. At that point, I have the feelings that his inability to get the official powers to inject this strategic blueprint cannot be divorced from his consistent quest to become the governor.
Araraume’ s stewardship in the Senate as shown in the record books, indicates that he has untapped leadership talisman if giving the chance is capable of changing the misfortune of governance bedevilling the state. Again, space may not be enough to go into it since its not the subject matter of this commentary but part of the highlights of the discussants. But I am aware that not just the people of Okigwe zone, but the entire state had a testimony of Araraume’s good representation. Apart from the inclusion of Imo as one of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, states, his name cannot be erased from the appointment of Prof Maurice Iwu as the Chairman of INEC.
It was revealed at the forum that as a power broker in the APC family, Araraume has since the coming of Buhari government being in the mainstream of administration thereby indicating a capacity to make his dream come true in 2019.
Strong indications that Araraume is a sure bet to seek APC governoship ticket for 2019 election have emerged if later revelations are considered. The visitations to Leaders in some areas as reported by one of the Ministry members at the “parish” add flesh to other subtle political undercover plots he has instituted to merit the flag.
It would be of interest to note that Araraume has gained substantial grounds in winning majority support of APC stakeholders aside from those who the State Governor gave appointments. It is no longer news that acolytes of the Senator made the majority list of delegates of the APC for the Congress. The camp of Okorocha even confirmed this when a report in Government House, Owerri claimed that the governor has reportedly displaced the Araraume list in Abuja. Few local tabloids who got wind of the gist from Govt House, Owerri ended up declaring that the pruported list the governor branded was a fake one.
Before now, top politicians in the state irrespective of party divide have shown interest in the Araraume venture. Only recently, a top PDP chieftain Brig Gen Chikwe dumped the umbrella party for APC for the interest of the Senator. In Okigwe, a loyalist of former governor Ikedi Ohakim, and Commissioner of Agriculture during his tenure, Longers Anyanwu has pitched tenth with Araraume after joining APC two years ago. A political kingpin of Ohaji/Egbema stock, Charles Orie is also said to have defected to APC from PDP to assist Ararume become the number one citizen of Imo. The list of new APC converts working for the interest of the Senator is said to be endless even as he has reportedly invaded the Rescue Mission camp of APC to poach former allies of Okorocha. The giant strides recorded so far could be the tonic firing him to relaunch interest in Government House, Owerri.
The general feeling of the discussants at the “Ministry” was that based on the misgivings against the Okorocha administration they claim has inflicted harm on the residents of the state, Araraume could be the Messiah and real Rescuer to redeem the image of APC in Imo
Kelechi Mejuobi is a regular columnist,co-publisher and Deputy Editor in Chief of Trumpeta newspapers