Offoaro - Poet without Borders

Rather than vilify him, Araraume's political opponents should learn a political lesson or two from him. Hate him, loath him or love him, the man Araraume is a political tiger, no; he is a political cat with NINE Big lives.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Godson Offoaro


xplaining the reason(s) for the expulsion of Senator Araraume from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the other day, a spokesman for the ruling party alleged among other things, that the Senator could not account for 1 billion naira constituency allowance. He was also alleged to have, (in the files of the EFCC,) a catalogue of offences including murder and others that border on criminality. Until proven by court of competent jurisdiction, these allegations still remain what they ought to be for now - allegations.

Three months before the 2007 elections primaries, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, the soft-spoken senator representing Okigwe in the Nigeria's Upper Chamber legislature, had boasted to the admiration (particularly his supporters) and raw anger of others, (his detractors) that it was only "God and or Obasanjo" that could stop him from becoming the next executive governor of Imo State. I am not Senator Araraume and have not peered into the workings of his busy political mind to ascertain the reason why he made such sure-footed declaration.

Also, I am at a loss as to why suddenly, the surge in the urge to stop Senator Araraume by all means and at all cost. But there is a thing or two which I do not know which I know a lot of people, including God and Mr. President know about Senator Araraume that they have kept close to themselves.

With recent court rulings - particularly that of the Supreme Court - that ordered his name to be included as the PDP gubernatorial candidate in Imo state; his expulsion from the PDP; the inconclusive elections of Saturday the 14th; the Supreme Court chiding of the PDP for contempt, have collectively and suddenly placed the hitherto unknown Senator from Isiebu Isiala Mbano into a persona of national an international focus.

Senator Araraume's prediction is almost becoming a reality. If Senator Ifeanyi Araraume becomes the Governor of Imo State tomorrow, it surely would be because of God. If he does not, it surely will be, because of the intervention of Mr. President. It could not have been because of the Imo electorate or any of his political compeers who will never, ever have a voice in the senator's electoral fortunes or misfortunes. In my humble opinion, Senator Araraume is, politically speaking, stronger than all of his detractors (including this writer) combined.

But, why on earth would a politician of Araraume's status in the first place, make such an obviously loaded/definitive political statement? One reason, observed a group, could be attributed to his vastly improved political profile and know how, which has heightened in import over the years. During this period, the senator from Okigwe had acquired a vast political know how that would make casual political thinkers cringe with envy. Another reason could be his closeness to the political power base in Abuja. His closeness to the PDP patron saint Chief Anineh is legendry and must be included in every calculation designed to ascertain what really is behind Chief Araraume's seemingly unconquerable, fast-paced political status.

In the senate, he had been one of those smooth operators who, not talking too much have turned silence into the proverbial "golden quietude." Like the former American president, Truman, it looks like Senator Araraume speaks little but wields the Big Stick. Outside the senate, it is believed that but for Chief Anenih, Senator Araraume would have been toast politically, long, long ago!

Political legends have it that the first and perhaps the last time Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume lost an election directly or remotely was in 1999. That was when he was with the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (APP) with the likes of Chief Evans Enwerem, Chief Sam Mbakwe, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and co. The same 1999, Mr. Ifeanyi Araraume, became a Senator. The story was told of how hardly, the first rounds of elections completed and the trajectory of power pointing to the PDP as the party to watch than he decamped, with his supporters in tow, to join the PDP. And that he used the APP resources/structure then at his disposal, to corral his image and those of his supporters to the winning PDP.

Since then Senator Ifeanyi Araraume's political profile has been inching up and up and up. Give it to him; this Senator knows how to win elections. May we also say he knows how to win court cases? Three straight court victories (and counting), in less than a month, including that of the highest court of the land is no mean fit. He, I believe, is also gathering some wins in the domain of public opinion.

Being an Imo indigene who did not vote for Senator Araraume's PDP on April 14, I have observed from the sidelines Senator Araraume drub his political opponents with effortless ease. He is stupendously rich. In Imo politics, he is known to be the senator that has the federal might and the federal ear and the federal connection. He exudes it and prattles about it. Not long ago, there were, two of such personalities in Imo state politics - the other being Senator Arthur, the son of Nzeribe, from Orlu. For example, when ever there was a local political fight involving him and the governor of Imo State Chief Achike Udenwa or those called political locals, Senator Araraume's side always won.

Whenever there was a bye-election in the state and the Governor or his deputy showed some passing or real interest, Chief Araraume would step in, even at the last minute to determine where the pendulum of victory would swing. In the past four years of Imo politics, the pendulum of political victory has usually swung in Araraume's direction.

The recently dissolved Imo executive of the PDP were all thought to be in the all powerful, all conquering, Senator Araraume's column. It is on record that Senator Araraume and all those who believe in him won all the primaries in the recently concluded PDP's, to the extent that if Araraume becomes governor of Imo State by the Grace of God, tomorrow, he will enjoy a state House of Assembly populated by his cronies and loyalists. The chairmen of most local governments in Imo state are thought to be in Senator Araraume's political column. No senatorial aspirant in Imo and adjoining states got a nomination without a handsome homage to Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.

Every newly appointed Police Commissioner in Imo State, over night, is attracted/drafted into the Araraume brigade. Chief Araraume knows every INEC commissioner posted to Imo state on first name basis. He knows the staff of INEC Owerri like the palm of his right hand. They know him too. In his own Okigwe, chief Araraume is the anointed political godfather. He has a hand in the appointment/nomination of every local government executive from the council member to the chairperson.

Your ministerial appointment is doomed to fail - on the senate floor should you not pay homage to this quiet non-assuming personality. The chiefs in his zone are his personal grassroots representatives. They are his foot soldiers. If you want to be anybody in Imo state, you are entitled to it provided you meet Senator Ifeanyi Araraume. He doles political largesse with ease that you discount his looming presence at your own political peril or irrelevance.

With all this in view, the question then is: who then is best suited to rule Imo? - The man who knows Imo politics inside out or those who do not understand Imo politics? A smooth political operator, not long ago, Senator Araraume was the chairman of the constitution review committee for the South West zone - the president's zone. He was also a strong advocate for the veiled third term agenda orchestrated by the PDP and supported, in veiled fashion by Mr. President.

But before then, Chief Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume had been alleged to be one of the senators who plotted the removal of Chief Evans Enwerem to the consternation of Mr. President. He, also, (it was believed,) had a strong hand in trying very hard to work against the selection of Adolphus Wabara, as Mr. President's choice for Senate President. That may be when he began to fall apart with Mr. President. Could he have in any way then incurred the wrought of Mr. President? Recently, Senator Araraume had been dragged to the EFCC by some notable members of his political clan over some alleged financial dealings. How that case ended, I do not know.

Come Saturday April 28, (if INEC keeps that date), Senator Ifeanyi Araraume's bold prediction may come to pass, either way. Rather than vilify him, Araraume's political opponents should learn a political lesson or two from him. Hate him, loath him or love him, the man Araraume is a political tiger, no; he is a political cat with NINE Big lives. I mean Senator Ifeanyi Araraume of Imo state!

Godson Offoaro Journalist and Computer Consultant, Lives in Washington DC, wrote from Lagos, Nigeria