By Sufuyan Ojeifo
On two occasions in the month of September this year, precisely on the 6th and 26th, a former member of the Nigerian Senate who represented Imo North senatorial district from 1999 to 2007, Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume, had good reasons to issue two disclaimers that were not largely dissimilar. Both disclaimers, the second reinforcing the first, were contained in statements issued by some of his aides and they essentially bordered on rumours doing the rounds in some sections of the media about either his plan to dump the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo State or his plot to deploy his formidable structure in support of the Labour Party, LP, in the State.
Both preoccupations, by his adversaries, at those intersections, defined the scope, shape and texture of the accusatorial and conspiratorial moves orchestrated within the Imo State Chapter of the APC and fervidly mounted to discount his political influence as it were. The fact that some powerful forces are uncomfortable with Araraume’s politics and ever-growing influence in Imo State is writ large; otherwise, they would not have, for instance, moved against his appointment as Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, as announced in September 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
When on January 5, 2022, Araraume’s appointment was reversed after about four months of delay in inaugurating the Board, and Senator Margery Okadigbo, wife of the late Dr Chuba Okadigbo, from Anambra State, was announced in his stead, it was clear to the public that power play had crept in to upend the process. The finger was pointed at Governor Hope Uzodinma as complicit in the campaign and maneuvers that culminated in Araraume’s loss of the appointment. But the incident did not in any way diminish the magnitude of his (Araraume’s) persona and influence. What it discounted, in the main, was the place of Imo State in the overall configuration of political and economic empowerments.
There was no way Araraume’s chairmanship would not have somewhat benefited Imo State. Those who would have had access to one form of empowerment or another on account of his chairmanship, had it been consummated, remain the ultimate losers. Uzodinma and his confederates decided to hold down a potential Imo empowerment opportunity by blocking the reasonable access that Imo indigenes would have had to critical support with Araraume in the saddle as chairman of the Board of NNPC Limited. Whereas, those who undercut Araraume were happy that they succeeded in their selfish enterprise, the larger ramifications amount to a collective loss by Imo confraternity.
Having stoically accepted the denouement that was foisted on him by the sleight of the hand, one had really thought that the forces that launched into a supremacy battle with him over the NNPC Ltd ill-fated appointment would have just allowed Araraume to pursue his politics in the Imo APC with equanimity. They would not. Rather, they would want to push him out of the APC; which was why in accordance with their devious stratagem, they concocted the spurious narratives about Araraume’s plan to defect from the APC. This was the lie that the September 6 disclaimer attacked. The September 26 disclaimer dismantled the propaganda that Araraume was planning to deploy his solid political structure in support of the Labour Party, LP, in the State.
In a statement entitled: “I’m still in APC,” signed on his behalf by a Director in his Destiny Organisation, Hon Stanley Ezekwe, Araraume refuted media reports that he had defected from the APC to the LP. Araraume described media reports that he had concluded arrangements to join the LP to contest the impeding Imo State governorship election as fallacious. Read him: “I am still a member of the APC and have no reason to leave my Party now.” He explained that that his preoccupation was to make his contributions to current efforts to resolve the economic, political and security challenges confronting the country. Araraume said he was a loyal and committed party man who would not jump ship when there was no reason for that.
On September 26, he also pooh-poohed reports that he had collapsed his political structures in Imo APC into the LP in the State. This time round, the statement in which he warned against what he termed “consistent and mischievous attempts by detractors to portray him to the public as politically inconsistent” was issued by his Legal Aide, Barrister Uche Anyanwu. He declared that he was still a full-fledged member of the APC and that his structures were still intact in the party. Not known to speak tongue-in-cheek, Araraume made it clear that he had never hidden his political destination and would never join any party through the backdoor (LP inclusive).
Political forces in Imo know the capabilities of one another. They are conversant with Araraume’s legerdemain to positively disrupt original plots in pursuit of his well-considered electoral agenda. It is in the context of this contemplation of his political/electoral net worth that forces, which are superintending the machinery of government in Imo State, seek to demonise him. Their quest brings to mind the Sisyphus myth. Historically, Sisyphus, a figure from Greek mythology, was a King of Corinth who became famous for his general trickery and twice cheating death. He ultimately got his comeuppance when Zeus dealt him the eternal punishment of forever rolling a boulder up a hill in the depths of Hades. The summative pains of the punishment were located in the futility of the exercise such that every time he neared the top of the hill, the boulder rolled back down. This is akin to the futile exertions by establishment forces in Imo to upset Araraume’s political apple cart.
Whereas, the fear of Araraume is always the beginning of wisdom in the political calculations and equations in Imo State, his staying power or how he has continued to remain relevant in the field should not escape essential deconstruction or scrutiny. His mythical political prowess dates back significantly to 1999 when he won his Imo North Senatorial election on the platform of the All Peoples Party (APP). Although, he had sought, after his Senate outing, to govern Imo State, investing formidable energy and megabucks in the enterprise, some negative forces had always intervened to frustrate the agendum.
But the forces cannot perpetually succeed in upending Araraume’s march towards his political destination. Christening his political movement as Destiny Organisation is quite instructive as no human forces can forever withstand the vagrant breeze of fortune that blows from the windmills of destiny. At 64, Araraume looks physically good and mentally prepared to be recommended for a redemptive assignment in Imo Government House. This, perhaps, is the reason establishment forces are up in arms against him. This is also, perhaps, the reason they remain unconvinced that Araraume does not have his eyes sharply focused on Imo governorship on another platform.
If Araraume does, without a doubt, he qualifies in the context of his antecedents as: pioneer Imo State chairman of the defunct APP (later All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP) from 1998-1999; State Treasurer, Liberal Convention in old Imo State from 1988-1989; member, National Finance Committee of the National Republican Convention (NRC) from 1990-1993; and Chairman, NRC Presidential Primaries for Kwara and Delta States. While in the Senate, he was Chairman, Senate Committee on Power and Steel and the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism. He was also the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Chairman, Public Hearing Committee for Southwest zone on amendments to the 1999 Constitution. He was the Chairman of the Southern Senators’ Forum and member of the National Assembly Joint Constitution Review Committee (JCRC); member, Senate Committees on Petroleum Resources, Works, Finance and Appropriation. He held the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
Araraume’s gravitas has not diminished. With a PhD in view, he would appear to have covered the entire field in his political odyssey and trajectory in terms of cerebral and psychological preparedness to governance. Meanwhile, his traducers can continue to seek to demonise him even as he settles in to play a significant role in the APC Presidential Campaign Council for the victory of the party’s presidential ticket in 2023.
● Ojeifo contributed this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org