Posted by News Express | 18 May 2018 | 3,747 times
It is an indisputable fact that Senator Ifeanyi Ararume’s last minute political mutiny enhanced the second straight victory Governor Rochas Okorocha recorded over the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State. After defeating Chief Ikedi Ohakim, who re-contested the governorship under the platform of the PDP, the rescue mission governor in 2015 also defeated Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who was nominated as the PDP governorship candidate during the 2015 governorship election in Imo.
After a rancorous governorship primary election that produced Ihedioha, the former deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Araraume had outrightly rejected the result as pronounced by the electora umpire, citing severe irregularities. He threatened to dump the PDP and ruin its chances of wrestling power from Okorocha, should the party leadership fail to reverse the outcome to his favour. When it became glaring that PDP was not amenable to Araraume's conditions of flying the 2015 governorship flag, the Isiala-Mbano-born political warlord changed his game: he aversively activated another dangerous political plan. He had quickly oiled and reassembled his political arsenals to make good his threat of downing the umbrella party.
As Araraume battled his former party and its hierarchy, Okorocha, whose re-election bid was earlier greeted with a stiff opposition, adjusted and clandestinely reached out to Araraume. The governor, however, succeeded in luring Araraume, who shockingly decamped to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with some notable Imo politicians, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of the 2015 presidential election. He was audaciously received by President Buhari who attended in person as well as top APC leaders.
It is appropriate and most likely that Araraume had struck a political deal and agreements before undertaking the onerous task of delivering Okorocha in 2015. It is equally ideal to suggest that the political agreements may have been tagged and expressly tailored for the 2019 political project, hence Ararume was not relenting on his yet-to-be-actualised gubernatorial aspiration.
Through an orchestrated rebellious act against PDP, Araraume closely worked with other aggrieved members and successfully ruined the PDP and its earlier foreseen chances of taking over power from Okorocha. He upturned the known traditional voting pattern in Imo, as PDP was dislodged in Okigwe zone for the first time, to democratically seal Okorocha’s landslide victory. Also through his solidly rooted political structure, “Destiny Organisation”, Ararume greatly influenced and sealed a pronounced victory for Okorocha in Owerri and Orlu zones, as he sternly directed all his supporters and associates across the state to vote for Okorocha and APC in the governorship and state assembly elections.
The political alliance and frolicsomeness of the duo actually began on a peaceful footing. Okorocha had appreciated Ararume’s contributions by engaging his son, Ifeanyi Ararume Jnr, as a commissioner in his first cabinet, after re-election. Though Ararume denied knowledge and endorsement of the appointment, it was later unravelled as a strategy deployed to position and politically nurture his son for deputy governorship against his 2019 governorship ambition. It was also gathered that Okorocha’s strategies were targeted to politically dwarf, detonate and morally knock Araraume out of 2019 governorship race with his son preferred and positioned for deputy.
Unfortunately, the political tide, as at today in Imo APC, is fast turning against Okorocha. By inducing and procuring marathon endorsements for Uche Nwosu, his chief of staff and son-in-law as the next governor, Okorocha consciously or unconsciously ignited a fierce political battle in his party. Besides his relationship as the father-in-law, Nwosu also hails from Orlu zone with Okorocha. After removing the four years Ohakim held sway (2007-2011), Orlu zone has continuously occupied the governorship seat of Imo State since the return of democracy in 1999. Chief Achike Udenwa had an uninterrupted eight years (1999-2007). By 2019, Okorocha shall be adding another undistorted eight years of governorship for the same Orlu zone. Regardless of this obvious lopsidedness and seeming political enslavement of Owerri and Okigwe zones, Okorocha, in a desperate manner, defied all entreaties as he resorts to shenanigans that tend to domicile the gubernatorial power in Orlu, beyond 2019.
But Okorocha's succession agenda, as greedily crafted, has been completely rejected by stakeholders of Imo APC. The opposition against his proposed familiocracy has swollen, hence Ararume reached out to other stakeholders who are mutually opposed to Okorocha and his son-in-law. A coalition known as “Allied Forces” in Imo APC was formed to wrestle the party structure from Okorocha during the congress. With the calibre of Ararume; Senator Osita Izunaso, national organising secretary of the party; Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu, representing Okigwe zone in the Senate and the APC National Convention Planning Committee; his counterpart representing Orlu zone, Senator Hope Uzodinma; deputy governor, Prince Eze Madumere; Goodluck Opia, representing Ohaji-Egbema/Oguta/Oru West Federal Constituency; Chief Tony Chukwu, a business mogul, Chief Felix Idiga (Jafac), Chief TOE Ekechi, Ichie Best Mbanaso, Sir Jude Ejiogu, former secretary to the state government, and other notable politicians within the broom-waving party, Okorocha, is, to say the least, profusely suffocating in Imo APC.
After losing in the recent Ward and Local Government congresses to the politically sophisticated “Allied Forces”, a terribly bullied and horrified Okorocha had raced to Daura and Abuja crying for help. Those he reportedly met at Daura and Abuja did not mince words as they turned him back with an advice that he mends fences with the party stakeholders. But, Okorocha, who had earlier and publicly announced the retirement of notable politicians across party lines in Imo would never heed such wise counsel. Only him, and him alone, will decide the next governor for Imo State, the three senators (with himself as one), occupants of the 12 House of Representatives seats, as well as the 27 State Assembly positions.
While the “Allied Forces” prepares by perfecting plans for the forthcoming state and zonal congresses, the brutally dazed and wailing Okorocha and his son-in law, Uche Nwosu, are rather busy scoring own goals by effortlessly leading an obviously dejected supporters on ‘fruitless’ protests.
Like a warlord lacking tact and strategy, the seemingly frustrated Okorocha, to the surprises of many, also extended his battle to Oyegun’s doorstep and the entire National Working Committee (NWC). He openly accused the outgoing national chairman of “criminally” conspiring with Ararume, Izunaso, Uwajumogu, and other members of the “Allied Forces” to hijack the party structure. He equally claimed to have become a victim of “Abuja conspiracies”, for opposing the proposal that could have fetched Oyegun and other party EXCO members an additional one year in office.
But Okorocha’s unsubstantiated assumptions and outburst were swiftly countered by the national publicity secretary of APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, who berated the governor and accused him of mismanaging his relationship with those that ought to have queued behind him.
Apparently referring to the governor as a frustrated fellow, Abdullahi said: “Governor Okorocha is being malicious and unfair to the NWC. If he has mismanaged his relationship with his own people, in a way that they now constitute an encumbrance to him, he should not transfer his frustration to the NWC.
“It is certainly not right to set fire to the village because you want to kill a rat. If Governor Okorocha has any specific grievances, he should come forward with them rather than making this generalised accusations.”
While the Allied Forces steadily dismantles Okorocha as the sole proprietor and owner of Imo APC, other stakeholders across party lines in Imo as well as the keenly watchful Imolites have endlessly celebrated the political demystification and apparent downfall of the “rescue mission” governor. This is as virtually all opinions and commentaries canvassed in the social and mainstream media in respect to the development are pointedly tailored to mock, demystify and downgrade Okorocha whose recent destructive programmes such as “Urban Renewal” have terribly inflicted hardship and excruciating difficulties on residents of the state capital, Owerri.
Adding to the spontaneous celebrations that have greeted Okorocha's humiliation, Ararume attributed the dismantling of Okorocha and his family members to a collective battle all Imolites must fight to secure the state from further destruction. Araraume through a recent statement released by his media aide, Ik Ogbonna, had warped and derided Okorocha for brutally exhibiting dictatorial and anti-democratic tendencies.
The statement further enjoined “all well-meaning citizens - from the political class to the academia, from the professions to the clergy, the traditional institutions and even artisans beyond partisanship, sectional, religious and cultural boundaries - to stop Okorocha from further destroying the state, economically, politically and culturally.
He added: “In the last couple of months, Okorocha has been raining abuses on every political leader of note in the state, including his predecessors, dead or alive. The good people of Imo State have so become used to the governor’s reckless and uncouth utterances on the former that they no longer take him seriously.
“Governor Okorocha deludes himself as a political giant, but it is not a hidden fact that in his career, he has contested over 15 elections and lost all: governorship, party chairman, Senate, president, etc. Even the 2011 governorship election, in which he was declared winner, it was a make-belief. In 2015, he ran for a second term, but the election went into second balloting and he almost lost, because of his abysmal performance in his first term.”
With the endorsement of Imo APC Ward congress by the party’s Appeal Panel deployed to Imo, the power tussle over the soul of APC appears to be over for Okorocha. The governor has lost the battle and, finally, the monopolistic control of Imo APC. He is, therefore, expected to activate his plan ‘B’, if any, for 2019.
Believing that Imo electorate is still glued to his side, the governor may consider routing his son-in-law and obviously depleted supporters to another political party. Okorocha's desperation to foist his son-in-law as the next governor of Imo State shall then be decided by the electorate, if he finally activates such plan.
•Uzoukwa, a seasoned journalist and PR practitioner, is currently pursuing his Doctorate Degree on Mass Communication in Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri.
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