As a paint maker, I know a lot with chemicals. To produce a good paint, you do not just need to know the right chemicals to use, but you will also have to understand the right quantity to apply for a particular quality of paint. In paint making like in most other manufacturing ventures, one thing that mustn’t be missing in your factory is a scaling machine. This is because, the effectiveness or otherwise of every chemical is dependent on the accuracy or otherwise of the measurement. You can put the right chemical in a paint and your production will go completely bad, if you did not apply the right quantity.
In politics, a featherweight politician may put him or herself forward as a heavyweight. This deception which has become the stock in trade of most Nigerian politicians has made it possible for them to keep their supporters in perpetual agony, while they use their little political weight to continually negotiate something for themselves. However, there is a political scaling machine with which anyone who is interested may determine the real strength of any political leader or wannabe. Paid media hypes may be deceptive, but facts of history are trusted guides to knowing the real political weight of anyone who claims to know it all.
Supporters of Senator Ifeanyichukwu Ararume will not fail to remind you that the Benin, Edo State brought up, Isiebu Chief is a successful trader who can boast of some billions of Nigerian currencies in his bank account and others buried in landed assets and equities in quoted companies. That Chief Ararume has some good amount of money in his account is not a claim anyone can refute or even want to stand up for a debate against. At least, I will not deny that I know Chief Ararume to have a very deep pocket, not because I know the location of his factories or businesses, but because I know that for a man to have consistently run for governorship of a State since 2007, that man’s pocket must be very deep.
This brief essay is not going to be about Chief Ifeanyi Ararume’s business life or how he became a big man. Hopefully, there will be a day for a discussion on that. For a society where people seem not to care about how those who intend to lead them made the money with which they believe they can buy power, a discussion focused on the foundations of their wealth will give us an insight into what kind of political chief executives they will become, should they succeed at that aspiration. However, for today, the concern is on putting the Isiebu billionaire on a political scale and confirming his exact weight, politically. Note that, this is not also an attempt at x-raying his political credentials. That too, will come, in its own time. The focus of this essay is to know if Chief Ararume is as formidable as he has deceived his few followers to believe he is and what assets he really can boast of, politically.
In 1999, Chief Ifeanyi Ararume who was the State Chairman of the now defunct All Peoples Party (APP), negotiated his way into the PDP just few days before the Party held its primaries for its national assembly candidates. He was later to grab the ticket of the PDP as its Senatorial candidate under very controversial circumstances. Many reasons have been adduced by different people for Ararume’s sudden defection from a Party that relied so much on him that they left the financial purse of the Party in his care. However, the most popular of all the stories is that Chief Ararume left the Party together with Senator Evan Enwerem and their group when they saw that the military junta at that time was tilting towards the Peoples Democratic Party, hence, their decision to team up with the Party that is most likely to get the support of the central government. The idea then, was for them to benefit from the political machinery that would be deployed from Abuja to enable the emergence of those anointed by the PDP. It is also important to note that before he finally left the APP, Chief Ararume allegedly made attempts to destroy the Party by leading a group within the Party to revolt against the State leadership of the Party, which he was a part of. Some of his old comrades in the APP, allege that the Isiebu born politician was just a mole within the APP, whose contract with Abuja was to install weak candidates for the Party in all elective positions, before defecting to the PDP. Some people even believe that his alleged destructive activities within the APP, was what secured him the PDP’s Senatorial ticket immediately he moved over from the Party.
As a senator, Chief Ararume did not relent in pursuing his personal goals, using his elevated position as the Senator representing Imo North District and his membership of committees on communications, Police affairs, Federal Character, Finance and Appropriation, Information and Niger-Delta, to advance both his business and political interests. Some people believe that these personal successes were at the detriment of the interests of his constituents and the Igbo political interests in general. His senior comrade in politics and one of those with whom he left the APP to the PDP, Distinguished Senator Evan Enwerem was elected the Senate President of the Federal Republic, and it was expected that considering their political and personal relationships spanning over many years, that Chief Ararume would be his brother’s keeper, by standing by him throughout the period of his Senate presidency. Unfortunately, Senator Ararume’s name always cropped up in conspiracies that led to the ouster of Chief Evan Enwerem as Senate President. While, Ararume’s apologists have continued to deny that their principal was not as instrumental as he is alleged to be in the troubles of Chief Enwerem, they have failed to convince a majority of enlightened observers with their arguments.
During the ill-fated bid to amend the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, allegedly to allow the then President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to qualify for a third term in office, Senator Ararume was not one of the senators that came out in the open to denounce the project, rather, he was fingered as one of the senior lawmakers who was in cahoots with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to see to the realization of that project. According to Mr. Casca Ohanele, a journalist and social commentator based in the United States of America, Chief Ararume was actually the one contracted by the Obasanjo camp to buy other lawmakers into the project, but he allegedly reneged. In a Facebook comment made by Mr. Casca Ohanele on the 10th of January, 2018, he said; “Araraume coordinated fmr (sic) President Obasanjo (sic) 3rd term with Sen Mantu but they could not deliver, they were accused of diverting the funds for that project for their private use. That was why in 2007, OBJ swore Mantu wont(sic) to senate and that Araraume wont (sic)be governor.. That is the fact.” I could not independently verify the authenticity of Mr. Casca’s claim, but I can confirm that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn against the emergence of Senator Ararume as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Imo State in 2007.
In 2007, Senator Ararume who had served two terms as a Senator of the Federal Republic ran for the governorship ticket of the PDP. Delegates, Party officials and other officials accredited for the primaries were left scampering for their own safety in the night of 9th December 2006, when some thugs, allegedly working for one of the aspirants threw the Dan Anyiam Stadium venue of the primaries into chaos. The exercise for that day was cancelled, even though, majority of those who were in attendance believe that Chief Tony Ezenna was already cruising home to victory. The primaries was rescheduled for 13th of December, 2006, and after much controversies and violence by the same set of thugs who disrupted the exercise of 9th December, Senator Ararume scored, in controversial circumstances, the highest number of votes. However, by the Party’s Constitution, Chief Ararume’s 2,069 votes was not enough to make him the governorship candidate of the Party. The Isiebu politician could not emerge the clear-cut winner, as he fell short of the two third stipulation agreed by the Party’s congress. The Party was supposed to conduct a rerun between Chief Ararume and Chief Hope Uzodimma who came a close second in the primaries, on failing to do that, the Party had to take the option of submitting Ararume’s name to INEC in order to beat the deadline of the electoral umpire on the submission of candidates’ names.
The PDP Constitution makes the Party’s NWC, the final decider on who flies the Party’s flag in an election. It is based on this Party regulation that the NWC sat and took a decision to substitute Chief Ararume’s name with that of Chief Charles Ugwu who was also a candidate in the primaries. Also, according to the PDP’s guidelines, members of the Party are not allowed to seek redress in court over internal Party matters, without having explored the Party’s internal conflict resolution mechanisms. It is believed that Chief Ararume did not bother about exploring any of the options within the Party to seek redress, but went straight to the courts, where he was fortunate to get a favorable judgment reinstalling him as the PDP governorship candidate for the election. This judgment which came barely two weeks to the governorship election took the Party leadership unawares. President Obasanjo was said to have been especially miffed at the disrespect shown to the Party and its leadership by Ararume, and was determined not to allow such an unwieldy precedence in the Party. Even though the Party hierarchy was clearly dissatisfied with the Supreme Court’s ruling, they had no option but to abide by it. However, without the support of Abuja’s rigging machinery, Ararume was flattened in the contest by a relatively unknown political Party, the PPA. This was to be the first time, the PDP was losing election in Imo State in the Fourth Republic. The Isiebu Chief did not relent, as he went straight to the Elelction Tribunal and followed the case up to the apex court, where his arguments were deflated and dismissed by the incorruptible jury for lack of merit.
Ararume defected to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), on whose platform he ran for governorship in 2011. This was the first time the Isiebu politician was running for an elective office on the platform of a Party that does not have Abuja support, and it turned out to be his worse political outing since 1999. As a governorship candidate in 2011, Chief Ararume could not win one out of the 27 local government areas in the State. Even in his own Isiala Mbano LGA, he was beaten blue and black by the incumbent governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim.
By 2014, Ararume had rejoined the Peoples Democratic Party, abandoning the CAN which was a major legacy Party that transformed into the now ruling All Progressive Congress (APC). At this point, it should have become clearer to the reader that Distinguished Senator Ararume does not believe in the power of the people to elect their leaders and representatives, but have always relied on the corrupt Federal system to impose him upon the people as their leader. He was hopeful of getting the governorship ticket of the PDP to run in the 2015 governorship election, but he was beaten to the ticket by the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha. Is he a sore loser? Chief Ararume rejected the outcome of the primaries, even though, he was beaten by a meager ten votes. He insisted that he won the primaries, yet remained in the Party. He filed a case against the Party and its candidate, Emeka Ihedioha, in court and was ready to go the whole hog. His supporters told anyone who cared to listen that Ihedioha was going to win the election, but Ararume was to be sworn in as the governor.
Chief Ararume remained in the PDP till after the presidential and national assembly election of 2015. When the results of the Presidential and National Assembly elections were announced and he saw that the PDP has lost the center, he ran to Governor Rochas Okorocha, for cover, as it became obvious to him that he was going to become a political orphan. Governor Rochas Okorocha, who at that point, did not really need anything from him, welcomed him and gave him the much desired political shelter which he was desperate for. As expected, the governor was returned overwhelmingly by Imo electorates. Governor Okorocha won in the five out of the six LGAs of Chief Ararume’s Okigwe zone, but lost in Isiala Mbano, which incidentally, is Ararume’s LGA.
From the foregoing, it is obvious to any reasonable mind that Chief Ifeanyichukwu Godwin Ararume may be an overrated political opportunist, who cannot succeed politically without the collaboration of State agents who would want to subjugate the wishes of the people. Democracy is about the decision of the highest number of people, and any true democrat will only look towards where the majority of the people are, rather than where the power is. Chief Ararume’s political worth is as big or as small as the system makes him. A true political leader derives his biggest strength from the people and any politician who would always rely on using the institutions of government to hijack power is not better than a political opportunist and power grabber.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Onwuasoanya Fcc Jones is Public Relations Officer of Ugwumba Uche Nwosu Vanguard & Ugwumba Uche Nwosu Believe Movement