The 2015 Governorship election in Imo State has since come and gone and the result of that ill-fated poll which held on March 28th has been a shock to a cross section of the electorate in Imo State. In the Presidential poll which held on March 28th,the PDP put up a superlative performance when they polled about 80% of the votes to humiliate the APC. In the Senatorial poll which took place on the same day, the PDP won all three seats in the Senate for Imo State. This is a 100% score for the PDP. In the House of Representatives(HoR)) election, the PDP won eight(8) out of the ten(10) seats while APC won a mere two seats. In summary, the PDP made a First Class Pass in the Presidential and National Assembly polls while APC failed ignominiously. The governorship and State Assembly polls which held on April 11th was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In that governorship poll of March 11th,Governor Okorocha of the APC polled a total of 79,329 votes above Hon Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP. After the supplementary governorship election which held on the April 25th, Governor Okorocha polled a consolidated total of 416,996 votes to beat Hon Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP who polled 320,705 thus beating the PDP candidate with a whopping 96,291.It is against this backdrop that men of conscience started pondering over what happened to culminate in the disastrous defeat of the PDP in the governorship poll and state Assembly polls, more so, since it humiliated the APC in the Presidential and NASS poll which held on March 28th.
I was pondering over this issue on the morning of Saturday May 2nd, when my phone buzzed. I picked the call and behold it was a call from one of the aides of Senator Ararume who informed me that his principal, Senator Ararume, would be having an interactive session with his supporters on that afternoon in order to brief them on the state of affairs in regard to the just concluded Imo Guber poll. The venue of the event was the Destiny Organization Campaign office on Onitsha Road-Owerri. I told my caller that present realities in Imo State made it necessary for him to confirm if the event was for only members of the Destiny Organization(i.e Araraume’s campaign group) and whether outsiders were free to be there. Aside other reasons, I asked such clarifications because I have not been to any of the Senator’s political events before and above all , I have not seen Senator Ararume in flesh and blood for the first time. We joked over it and he assured me that there was a need for me to be there and hear what the Senator would say. As a media professional practising in Imo State, it was not only an opportunity for me to see the Senator for the first time, it was also an opportunity to visit his famous campaign Headquarters in Owerri and even of more interest was the benefit of hearing from the horse’s mouth the truth about all the rumours in regard to the actions and inactions of Senator Araraume in the just concluded guber poll in which the incumbent Governor, Anayo Okorocha, of the All Progressives Congress(APC) was returned as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).
Senator Ararume finally arrived the venue around 4pm to the warm embrace of his followers who had been wearing long faces when the rumour spread that their leader would no longer be there as a result of problems with his flight schedule. Senator Ararume’s entry into the arena was heralded with such panoply and razzmatazz that one would think that the national leader of his new party, APC, Muhammadu Buhari, was the one arriving the venue. A heavy security presence was thrown around him as he was sandwiched by hefty and fierce-looking security officials. Just before he finally entered the venue, another platoon of security personnel with broad chests and intimidating biceps had cordoned off the route through which he would walk into the venue- a move to ward off any danger, just in case. Once he finally stepped into the arena there were shouts of joy as chants of “Game changer, senator, His Excellency” and related encomiums rent the air. Since the election is all over, it is rare for any politician, not even the governor, to elicit such a heightened outpouring of orgiastic frenzy and rabid celebration, more so, for a politician who neither won an election nor got a big political appointment. This is happening at a time when the incumbent President, DR.Goodluck Jonathan, has lamented his abandonment by his friends, even when he is still in power, albeit a lame duck president.
Now let us play down the preambles and hear what the senator told his faithful. Immediately he was invited to the podium to address the mammoth crowd that thronged the venue, there was another round of wild jubilation, catcalls and encomiums and the event organizers worked so hard to restore calm to enable the soft-spoken senator address the excited humanity who had become very anxious to hear the message from the Leader, aka “the Game Changer. Addressing the supporters, Senator Ararume thanked them on their support which made them to give the him the green light to start discussions with Governor Okorocha. He also thanked them for turning out in a large number to hear his briefing even at very short notice. Hear Senator Ararume: ” I don’t want to talk about the PDP because for me, the PDP is dead. Our collective efforts have yielded fruit. As I told you, the Governor came to me and pleaded for support to win the election. I told him that for me, I don’t have any problems in accepting his request. My problem has always been about the fate and welfare of those who have been following me all these years. Some of them want to be commissioners; others want to be chairmen and councillors of Local Government Councils. There are those who want to be ministers and those who want to enjoy government patronage in terms of contracts .That has been my problem. I told him that as long as these people are happy, I am fulfilled. I also told him that I will not ask him for a kobo to partner with him. I emphasized that my interest is in the welfare of my followers who have allowed me to enter into this partnership.
When the ovation/ applause that greeted this message was brought under control, Senator Araraume continued again. Hear him:” At this stage , the governor said that my concern for my followers is one reason he admired my approach to governance. He said that some other politicians would have given him a huge bill to settle before partnering with him and yet the same people would expect him to carry their followers along. He promised to do what I asked of him. I want to tell you that all over the world, the trend now is on partnerships and collaborations. In the business realm, they call it mergers and acquisitions. In 2003, General Buhari(retd) contested for the presidency and lost .He contested under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP).He contested in 2007 and failed. Again, in 2011, he contested under the platform of the Congress for Peoples Change(CPC).He failed to win in all these outings but in 2015, he collaborated and partnered with the other political parties in what could be described as a political face of mergers and acquisitions and this resulted to a great victory for him and his followers. During those years he made futile efforts to win, some of his followers did not abandon him, even though they were passing through financial challenges. But in 2015, Providence has provided him all those things he lacked in the past. Some of his followers who did not have food to eat will be among the good millionaires of the future”.
Speaking further, the “Game Changer” as he was fondly called by his faithful said: “Buhari had the opportunity of becoming a military governor; he was also a Minister of Petroleum. He had the opportunity of becoming a military Head of State and even Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund(PTF).Yet, he was not corrupt. If he did not become corrupt or abuse the various offices to enrich himself even when he was a young man, is it now that he will enrich himself? He is not after material things. I have visited him in his community in Daura and he maintains a modest lifestyle. So, my advice is that we must believe in what we are pursuing and on the need for loyalty and remaining focused on the goal of our group. So, I don’t want you to be bogged down with the past. For those of you who are so desperate about money, money will come when it will come. In this partnership, he will give you money and if he does not, come to me and I will give you money”. At this juncture, a thunderous applause rent the air with stentorian screams of “Game Changer, Leader, His Excellency”. The female folk who turned out in designer costumes and exotic canopy head gears took to the floor and exhibited some graceful dance steps in a deft of choreography in honour of the Game Changer and politician extraordinaire, Senator Godwin Ifeanyi Araraume.
Then, he read the riot act to his faithful with the caveat: ”I will be angry if any of you goes to the press to publish his grievances against this government .The governor should not be distracted. He should be allowed to concentrate on the job. You have your leaders and if you have any grouse, you should take it to your leader who will follow it up .Again, please, don’t take your grievances to the press. This is our government and we must support it. We must also support the President-elect, Buhari, to enable him effect the much-desired changes and transformation in the country. For now, Imo state is the only APC state in the south-East.This is the only state that will conveniently host most of the activities and meetings of the APC. So, the governor does not need any distractions. By 2019, the entire South-East will become APC- controlled. One major thing I was able to extract from the governor was his commitment to work effectively for Imo State in his second tenure. I told him that if it was about money, he had made enough money in his first tenure and that he must use the entire second tenure to work for the state. The governor agreed with me and promised not to disappoint. So, this relationship is a lifetime relationship.”
The Senator emphasized that it was wrong to say that the South East did not contribute to the APC victory. He said :”the leaders of the party(i.e. APC) are happy at the votes which the APC got from the South East; it was a big change from what happened in the 2011 poll where some South East states gave over a million votes to the PDP. So, the APC is happy because if such trend had continued, it would not have been easy for the party to win. The votes from the South East helped to minimize the risk factor and they are aware of this .It was a damage control which facilitated victory for APC. So, this is our government and we must support it at both the state and Federal levels”. He then charged his supporters to register as members of the APC. Speaking further he said that Governor Okorocha cannot give work to all of you. You are in thousands here, after all , we may have just 20 commissioners or so. The important thing is that any of you who is remembered should remember others.Whatever is given to you is in the interest of the group”. His supporters gave him a standing ovation on this remark. The report you have just read is a paraphrase which is just an excerpt of what Senator Ararume told his supporters at the event.
Opinions are divided as to the morality or legality of what senator Ararume did. A school of Thought holds that it is morally and legally flawed for Senator Araraume to partner with Governor Okorocha in a desperate bid to shortchange the PDP – a party through which he has benefitted immensely from the spoils and largesse of office. It was through this party that Senator Ifeanyi Araraume became senator for Imo North senatorial zone(aka Okigwe zone) from 29th May,1999-29th May, 2007.Most people hold the opinion that Senator Ararume did not have any cogent reasons to go in the dead of night to plot a palace coup with Governor Okorocha, a man who manifested pathological hatred for the like of Senator Araraume in the PDP. In spite of his travails in the PDP, the party was not entirely hostile to senator Ararume. It was his defection to the APC in 2011 that culminated in the inability of the PDP to win the 2011 governorship. If he had partnered with his kinsman, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who was seeking a second tenure , the PDP would have won the 2011 governorship poll. The total votes cast for Senator Ararume and Chief Ikedi Ohakim superseded the votes cast for Owelle Okorocha in that poll. In late 2010,Senator Ararume defected from PDP to the then All Congress of Nigeria(ACN) which later metamorphosed with other parties to found the APC.
Senator Araraume dumped APC and defected to the PDP on 31st December 2013.In spite of everything, the PDP received him and many other returnees in a red carpet ceremony in which President Jonathan was present at Dan Anyiam stadium, Owerri. Irked by the honour done to the group of Senator Ararume returnees, Governor Okorocha embarked on outbursts which ridiculed those who defected to the PDP. In one of those diatribes, Governor Okorocha described as expired politicians the like of senator Ararume , Chief Achike Udenwa and several others who President Jonathan came to Imo State to celebrate their return to the PDP. Furthermore, Governor Okorocha said that:”It is painful that President Jonathan spent over N5 Million to buy a product that is not worth N1 million”. He went into expletives which are not even good to be repeated here. It is pertinent to amplify that a week after dumping APC in preference to PDP on December 31st, 2013, Senator Ararume said that he dumped the APC because ”Governor Okorocha is running Aboki Government…..” In fact, this denunciation of Governor Okorocha by Senator Araraume was a screaming banner headline on page 1 of the National Question newspaper of Monday 6th January, 2014.Can senator Ararume vow that Governor Okorocha has now become a saint? Senator Ararume has a lot of explanation to give in order to justify his decision to partner with Governor Okorocha in a frantic bid to frustrate the agenda of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and the PDP.
Although Governor Okorocha has described senator Ararume as a hero and famous politician for his ability to partner with him to defeat Hon Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP, there are many people who do not accept such label. Such people draw a distinction between the words hero, famous, and notorious. In the Igbo cosmology/culture, a person who betrays his community /group is described as a saboteur or a Judas Iscariot. Such a character is described as notorious person and not a hero or famous person. The words famous, heroism and notoriety should not be used interchangeably as they are not synonymous. To most right thinking members of IMO State, a PDP politician who went under cover of darkness to cut a deal with Governor Okorocha of APC for the purpose of truncating his party’s agenda cannot be admitted into the IMO HALL of Fame but rather is a candidate for the Imo Hall of Infamy. However, there are those who hold the opinion that Senator Ararume was pushed to the wall, hence he had no option than to seek revenge by plotting a palace coup against the PDP.
In order to carry everybody along and the need for accuracy and balance,the real or perceived travails of Senator Ararume in the PDP since 2007 will be x-rayed elsewhere soon. However, it is my op[inion that as a politician of stupendous wealth and Knight of the Catholic Church, senator Ararume would have exercised moderation before getting involved in a palace coup against his group. This is because the BOOK of LIFE-the BIBLE- says we should pursue peace and leave vengeance to GOD. Above all, in a land of an eye for an eye, everybody will become blind. So, Senator Ararume should have shown exemplary tranquility and equanimity under insuperable odds; he should have risen above the mundane level of petty jealousy and lousy grouse. A man that Providence has so richly blest has no reasons to take critical decisions under the heat of passion. After all, those who know him well compare him to the Ali Dangotes, Mike Adenugas, Femi Otedolas, Warren Buffets and the Bill Gates of this world. He has a Midas Touch for creating wealth. None of the above stinking wealthy billionaires is in partisan politics. So, why all the desperation to be governor of Imo State to the extent of entering into an unholy alliance with Governor Okorocha , a politician who does not keep covenants or promises. I am shocked that in spite of the plethora and litany of failed promises, vows and pledges on the part of Governor Okorocha, a very highly placed personality as Senator Ararume succumbed to his overtures and entreaties on the need for them to plot a palace coup just 48 hours to a critical election.The pertinent question is:”Was Senator Ararume in a state of compos mentis when he took this decision or was it taken under the heat of passion? If I were one of his aides, I would have advised him to take the path of honour-i.e to publicly defect (decamp) to APC. This would have earned him tumultuous applause and would have enhanced his 2019 governorship agenda.
Well , on a general note, I am not against Senator Araraume’s Senator araraume’s decision to dump the PDP. This is because the constitution allows any aggrieved politician to opt out of his party at any point in time. So, it does not make any sense for one do in the secret what the Constitution allows you to do in the open. While the Constitution allows you to leave your party at the drop of a hat, it does not allow you to stay inside the party with the intention to organize a palace revolution in order to shortchange your party. The Constitution is not a supporter of anarchy, insurrection or acts that are offensive to the culture, norms and mores of society. After all, most of what are called codified laws are aggregation of the norms, mores and cultures of the social milieu from which those laws operate. Our obsession with the Constitution should not be carried to a level of absurdity. We should also begin to factor the Ofo na Ogu precepts in regard to what we do to our fellow beings. This may be why in one of his speeches, Hon Emeka Ihedioha said:”We must go back to those cherished values that helped our forebears to build a society that thrived in unity, love and common understanding by rejecting evil, embracing the common good and respecting ”Ofo na Ogu”(Daily Sun, February 2, 2015:45).Under the pristine values of the traditional Igbo society, Governor Okorocha would not have been bold to come in a public forum to announce that his palace coup with Senator has made Ararume famous and a hero.
If I were one of the aides of Hon Emeka Ihedioha, I would have advised him to take his grouse to the Supreme court for Constitutional interpretation. Since the Constitution allows a safe valve of defection to another party, is it not incompampatible wth law and order for a member of a political party to stay within the party and yet embark on palace coup to undermine the political agenda of such a political party? Political parties are formed for the primary purpose of capturing power in order to preside over the resources of state. Any party member who retains his membership and secretly plots the fall of his political party/candidate should be prosecuted and sanctioned by the courts for such illegality. This is the only way to guard against a reoccurrence as well as bring sanity, decorum and tranquility to the political space. In 2007 when the PDP expelled Senator Araraume from the PDP after the Supreme Court had pronounced him as the duly elected governorship candidate of the party, I did a viewpoint where I enjoined Senator Araraume to drag the PDP to court and demand a reversal of that punitive order and to seek a relief to postpone the April 14th ,2007 guber poll election by three months to enable Senator Araraume to campaign in line with the 2006 Electoral Act. The free consultancy was not heeded because Senator Araraume was more interested in wearing the toga of a PDP guber candidate, albeit a tainted mandate. There was a mindset that whoever was the candidate of the PDP was automatically the next governor. Finally, for long will Imo State continue with this politics of Pull Him Down Syndrome? In 2007, the PDP preferred to forego the governorship ticket instead of fielding Senator Araraume in line with the judgment of the Supreme Court. In 2015, Senator Ararume took his own pound of flesh in order to retaliate the perceived injustice meted to him in 2007 or the alleged stealing of his guber primaries victory in 2015, even though the case is still in court. So, where do we go from here. So, my advice is that rather than going to the Election Tribunal, Hon Emeka Ihedioha and the PDP should drag Senator Araraume to court for complicity in the defeat of the party in the 2015 election. On the other hand, Senator Araraume should continue the ongoing case in the court against the PDP for allegedly stealing his victory in the Governorship primary of December 8th, 2014.Each party should demand to be paid huge compensation from the other party for causing its failure in the poll and thus suffering huge financial loss. The supreme Court judgment will expand the areas of electoral jurisprudence and guard against a reoccurrence in the future. Any side that wins should not fail to take judicial notice of my consultancy or professional advice when the hefty compensation is paid. The bottom-line of this thesis is that in this 2015 governorship poll, HON. Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP did not lose to Governor Okorocha; he lost to the senator Araraume-led palace coup in which the PDP ganged up to kill one of their own- a throwback to what transpired in 2007 when the same PDP ganged up to defeat senator Araraume.Is the PDP jinxed? Is the PDP the cause or is it cursed? The answers to the posers remain a matter for personal conjecture.