Like him or hate him, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume was well known by an average Imolite and Nigerian from his time in the national assembly as the senator who represented Okigwe zone in the senate, where he rose to become an influential member in the red chamber. His political journey may be described as the proverbial sun that rises suddenly and equallysets suddenly. He was very powerful as a senator to the point that many thought he would have a meteoric rise in his political journey, even to become the president of Nigeria. However, the path of do or die, make or mar, “either I or no one else” which the distinguished senator took, has not been seen to work in his favour.
Many now refer to him as a serial loser and political game spoiler.
One of the political masterstrokes, his traducers will rather call it mistakes, of Araraume was in 2005. He was a key actor in the factionalization of Imo politics along Abuja and home based factions known as (Onongaono). The Abuja bend was vehemently opposed to whatever then Governor Achike Udenwa represented at the home front.
Only few of Imo State Abuja based politicians like Hon Emeka Ihedioha, disagreed with Araraume and remained faithful with him. The Abuja group was known as Destiny Organization and he was not just the anchor man but its financier. Never in history was Imo politics so factionalized than that era. It was when the Isiebu born politician nursed his 2007 governorship ambition. A commentator wrote then, “Surely, Araraume has the most grassroots based polutical structure in Imo State and he has the machinery to succeed Udenwa if he gets the PDP ticket. And he will certainly win the governorship primary election of PDP if he continues the way he is going”.
Araraume was so powerful prior to 2007 election and had all it takes to crush any opposition, including the seating governor and bamboozle his way to the state seat of power as governor. However, an analyst revealed what he thought was Araraume’s archilles hills: “He sees himself already in the in the seat of authority and never accepts any possibility of him losing the election. He never takes it lightly with any journalist who asks him question on what will be his reaction in the event that he loses the election”. Sadly, he never had it.
In as much as the powers that be in the state fought back and gave his Abuja faction teeth for tat, the suicidal action was when he fell out with then President Obasanjo Obasanjo on matters concerning the president’s third term project and its finances. It was alleged that Araraume initially bought the idea but backed out at the 11th hour when his support was urgently needed. In view of this, Obasanjo moved against him. The Imo State PDP abandoned him after he won the party’s governorship election primary. The party rather brought in another Okigwe zone business mogul turned politician, Engineer Charles Ugwu, to hoist the umbrella party’s flag in the election. Expectedly, Araraume headed for the court and won in the supreme court. Yet the PDP never looked at his side as the party leaders viewed that as an anti party activity and adopted another party, Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and its candidate, Chief Ikedi Ohakim. The rest is now history as the candidate of PPA which was adopted by PDP leadership won the election which Araraume challenged up to the supreme court, all to no avail.
Mind very remarkably that though Araraume did not win, the PDP also did not win. It was a 50 -50 affair!
Not feeling at home in PDP after the whole debacle, Araraume dumped the party and pitched his tent with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on which platform he contested and lost the 2011 election.
Araraume’s greatest achievement here was that he assiduously worked against Ohakim and that paved the way for Ohakim’s failure at the election – he never won a re-election. His worst adversaries were the propaganda that he flogged a Catholic Church priest. Informed social affairs commentators insisted that it Araraume that was behind the sustained attack on Ohakim in that regard.
For the second time in four years, Araraume denied PDP victory in Imo State even as he never had his way. Talk of “I fail and you must also fail politics”. Indeed, he played a key role in Ohakim and PDP losing the the supplementary election that followed. He aligned with All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA’s) Rochas Okorocha during the then novel supplementary election declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to spoil the show for Ohakim and PDP.
In 2015, the distinguished senator bounced back to PDP after being granted a waiver and he contested the PDP primary election against Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha and other aspirants. He and others were defeated by Emeka Ihedioha, “but he stoked up media propaganda which made most Imolites and Nigerians believe the election was rigged by Ihedioha.” After futile efforts to wrestle the ticket from Ihedioha, he accepted the proposal of then Governor Rochas Okorocha to team up with him in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to wade off the threat of Ihedioha. It was disclosed that apart from Okorocha paying him heavily for his support, they had an agreement that Okorocha would support him (Araraume) to succeed him at the end of his (Okorocha’s) constitutionally allowed second term.
For the third consecutive time, Araraume plotted the downfall of PDP. He provided the grounds on which Ihedioha and PDP lost the election in 2015. At that point, Okorocha hailed him as the “hero of democracy”.
As it is said, what goes around always has a way of coming around, soon after winning the election, Okorocha started showing signs of reneging in his agreement to support Araraume to succeed him. It was not so long he booted the son of Araraume who was initially appointed commissioner as part of the agreement and reward for Araraume’s support. These actions led to war of wits between Araraume and Okorocha who threw everything to the effort to have his son- in- law, Uche Nwosu, to succeed him, with the claim he wanted to retire all old politicians, including Araraume and hand over the rein of power in the state to the youths.
During the hustle for APC governorship ticket which ensued, he could not manoeuvre to get the ticket ahead Okorocha’s Uche Nwosu. It was Hope Uzodimma who newly joined the APC who did. He (Araraume) left APC, went to APGA and took the party’s structure and ultimately got the governorship ticket. According to a newspaper publication, “Before Araraume’s entrance into APGA, Imo State masses were really looking up to the party for liberation given Okorocha’s mistake of picking his son -in -law as successor. But as Araraume entered, APGA scattered. Most of the leading aspirants and their supporters left the party for PDP, including Frank Nneji, Uche Onyeagocha, etc.
The INEC declared PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha winner of the election. Araraume, though did not win the election, was able to secure four out of the six houses of assembly seats in Okigwe zone for APGA, though no single one of those seats are remaining for APGA now, even as Araraume himself has also dumped APGA and rejoined APC, probably based on his agreement with Uzodimma to support him to become a Senator if the alliance to make him governor through the supreme court which was also said to involve Okorocha succeeds. Of course, the plot to make Uzodimma governor from the supreme court succeeded.
Now comes the Okigwe senatorial bye election. Araraume has again been dealt another political heartbreak. He has again been used and dumped. Uzodimma, in connivance with other power brokers in Okigwe zone, who have vowed never to allow Araraume become the “only cock that crows” in Okigwe zone politics, tactically shelved him off the way and handed the ticket to their consensusly preferred candidate, Chief Frank Ibezim. The distinguished senator is again fighting the political battle of his life. However, as usual, Araraume engaged in the intrigues by getting some members of the primary election panel to declare him winner of the primary election. However, APC has finally put a nail to the coffin as the party hierarchy at the national level has finally submitted the name of Chief Frank Ibezim, Uzodimma’s and other APC leaders’ preferred candidate, to INEC as the party’s candidate. The meaning is that Uzodimma is walking alone. He has failed but APC as a party has survived. As it is, Araraume will head for the court. Will he win? Will he lose? Or will he pick the ticket of another party? That is, to play a spoiler’s game.
The question is, why did he do it? Why did a senator who left senate in 2007 would still want to return to the national assembly in 2020, 13 years after? Some say it is greed and pursuit of personal interest. Others see it as pursuit of his constitutional rights. Why didn’t he sponsor his son or another politician and become a god father?
Again, Araraume fails for the fifth time in 13 years. And the question still begs for an answer: Is it the end of road for Araraume? Will he, like the proverbial phoenix, resurface? Is he a hero or a horror in Imo politics? His supporters say he has been doing a commendable job in alleviating the pains of the poor. To them he is a hero. His opponents say his greatest landmark in politics is playing a spoiler’s role, thus he is a horror