In a calculated move to rescue the Imo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress party from the grip of Governor Rochas Okorocha, the recent unveiling of Araraume Fan Club in the state has begun to change the narrative, writes Iyobosa Uwugiaren
Three times he narrowly lost the opportunity of becoming the governor of Imo State. But Senator Godwin Ifeanyi Araraume, who represented the Okigwe senatorial district in the Senate between 1999 and 2007, has remained the main issue in the current political conversation in Imo State.
And as the 2019 general election steadily draws near, his attractively designed, greened, standout large house in Isiebu, Umuduru in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of the state, has become a centre for different political consultations and discourse in the past weeks, in what some political strategists described as â€œdesperate political scriptâ€ being cooked to rescue the Imo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the disturbing political activities of Governor Roachas Okoroacha.
To be sure, those following the unfolding political activities in the state have said the recent launch of Araraume Fan Club, which has swelled political engagements in the state, is part of the script.
A chieftain of the party, Hon. Tony Eze, said the launch of the Club in two local government councils: Ikeduru and Isaiala Mbano and attended by thousands of APC supporters, attested to how Araraume is becoming the rallying point to reposition the smashed image of the party in the state.
â€œAraraume Fan Club was initiated and formed to sensitize men and women, including the youths to support APC in the state and our governorship hopeful come 2019â€, said Eze while welcoming people to the inauguration ceremony. THISDAY had reported that the national secretariat of APC was troubled about the unfolding developments in Imo State, the only APC state in the South-east zone.
Okoroacha-led APC government has been in the news for all the bad reasons in the past few months. The anger that has greeted governmentâ€™s failure to pay workersâ€™ salaries/pension for over a year; the forceful demolition of the popular Eke Ukwu Market and the violent eviction of traders that led to the death of innocent people; the ban of tricycle riders; the demolition of many â€œillegalâ€ buildings; the recent erection of the statue of controversial President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in Owerri, the Imo State capital, and other unpopular political activities in the state.
All these, coupled with the seemingly lack of good governance in the state, analysts said, are hindering a strategic plan by the APC to use Imo as its poster state in the South-east in the 2019 general election. The popular belief among the party leaders in the state is that until recently, when Araraume rejuvenated the APC structures at the ward, local and state levels, the party was almost dead in the state. There was a huge lull in the party with virtually all the party executives in the state side-lined from the activities of government.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was the governorâ€™s guest recently made allusion to the apparent impishness of Governor Okorocha, when he told him that apart from his immediate family, virtually everybody in the state, including members of his cabinet were not happy with him. But, to many APC followers, Ararume is working very hard to save APC in the state.
Some monitors of Imo Stateâ€™s politics said the assumption explained the huge and excited crowd that attended the unveiling of Ararume Fan Club in the two local government areas recently. Although the event was put together by Ararumeâ€™s political fans, it attracted many traditional rulers, different religious faith groups, market men/women, students, civil servants and APC leaders. They were there in large numbers.
â€œThe unveiling of Araraume Fan Club was another landmark history recorded in the course of building and promoting a stronger and formidable APC, which Senator Ifeanyi Araraume has not relented in committing his time, strength and resources in the past two years.
â€œIt was another day of passionate situation as the association of Imo State Tricycle Riders that was recently banned from operation in the state capital territory by the state government amidst tears and regret, pledged their support for APC through their identification and subsequent registration with Araraume Fan Club,â€ a social media activist, Mr. Awurum Darlington, told THISDAY
He added that Senator Araraumeâ€™s winning strategy is predicated on his humanity, kindness and accommodating spirit. He claimed like a big tree, Araraume provides enough shades for all Imolites: children, men, woman, the aged, the physically challenged, the rich and the poor.
Pledging their support for Araraume, the traditional rulers and the Association of Tricycle Operators Imo State, promised to spread the good news of APC and Araraume to the people.
â€œAs you can see, many good people of Imo State, different groups from different sectors of Imo spectrum and of various shades of opinion are emptying their structures and pledging their loyalty to Araraume, an interesting politician,â€™â€™ Chinedu Ifeanyi, a graduate and tricycle rider told THISDAY in Owerri.
The Disable Association of Nigeria, Ikeduru Chapter, that received hundreds of wheelchairs from Araraume at the occasion, vowed to identify with the Imo and APC aspiration for 2019 general election. Araraume promised the physically challenged to import and deliver more new sets of wheelchairs and crutches to change their already worn out ones.
Araraume, who currently represents the South-east in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as national commissioner, also promised to arrest the unemployment rocking them by allotting jobs up to the tone of 15% in his newly constructed factories in Owerri.
Thus, as Okorochaâ€™s fumbling continued to trouble APCâ€™s scheming in South-east, not many APC supporters disagreed that if people still talk about APC today, it is because Ararume took a bold step last December to revive the party. Before then, the party members were said to have withdrawn to their fate â€“ feeling used and abandoned by the APC government in the state.
To be sure, a key and active player in the ruling partyâ€™s affairs in the state and immediate past Commissioner of Information and Culture, Dr. Vitalise Ajumbe, told THISDAY recently that save for the crisis that enveloped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of late, many of the APC members wanted to join the opposition party.
â€œAs I speak with you, if you know those who are in APC, sample their opinion and you will find out that those supporting Araraume from the party hierarchy, are about 70 per centâ€, Ajumbe added.
Like many people in the state, the immediate past Director-General, Consumer Protection Council, Imo State and chieftain of APC, Chief Kingsley Ufere, is also not happy with Okorochaâ€™s management of the state and the party.
â€œMany people believe that Rochas has not done well in the past two years; and that his inability to perform might work against APC in the next election, unless a credible person is put forward as the candidate of the party. I agree with them,â€ the APC chieftain from Ideato North Local Government Area stated, adding that â€œI am former Director-General, Consumer Protection Council, Imo State. I am talking as an insider. And I left the government, because I felt he was not doing well.â€™â€™
The President-General of Olu-Okigwe, a socio-cultural group in Imo state, High Chief Chiedozie Anyanwu, also accused the governor of running the state like his â€œprivate businessâ€. â€œThe governorâ€™s so-called projects are self-serving; they are not people-oriented projects. He has abandoned everybody, including the party members, who helped to bring him to power. He is running the state with his entire family. His brother-in-law is the chief-of-staff; his sister is the deputy-chief-of staff, the deputy governor used to be his general manager in his private business.â€
Chief Anyanwu accused the governor of destroying APC in the state with his â€œanti-peopleâ€ programmes and policies. And like some state leaders of APC in Imo State, Chief Anyanwu praised Senator Araraume for â€œrescuingâ€ the party in the state.
â€œBut for Senator Araraume, whom many members now see as their guardian angel, APC was almost dead in our state because of Rochas anti-peopleâ€™s programmes,â€ he stated.