Okigwe Senate: How Araraume-Uzodinma war will be fought, won and lost ~ By Collins Opurozor
On the last day of October this year, the people of Imo North Senatorial District, known as Okigwe Zone, will go the polls to elect a replacement for their deceased senator, Ben Uwajumogu. One of the top contenders in the race is Ifeanyi Araraume, who once represented the very same district for eight years, precisely between 1999 and 2007.
Araraume’s decision to participate in the election has raised the stakes in the APC and has become unsettling even to Govetnor Hope Uzodinma, who in hushed tones reportedly mumbles his resolve to disagree and to frustrate the plans of the Isiebu-born politician.
What is interesting is that the duo of Araraume and Uzodinma do not see the forthcoming senatorial contest as something to toy with. For them, it is a preparation for the next governorship election in Imo State. It may not be well out of the strategies of Araraume to relaunch his governorship campaign from the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, and Uzodinma may not also be oblivious of the threats which an Araraume in the Senate would pose to his re-election bid. And because the both are career politicians, it is almost a cliché that politicians think of the next election.
It is further intriguing that Emeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education, who also hails from Okigwe Zone and who has been rumoured to be interested in the next governorship election, has thrown his weight behind every conspiracy to stop Araraume. He is currently a darling to Uzodinma, who he ostensibly neither supports nor shares anything in common with, save for a flickering hope for political survival. For him, Araraume’s misfortune means his success, while for Uzodinma, Okigwe Zone can be defeated and controlled through a policy which pretends to strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
But what has become apparent is that the war over the Okigwe senatorial seat will consume all the principal actors and eventually give, possibly, Charles Onyirimba of APGA a smooth ride to the Red Chamber.
Today, the primaries of the APC are ongoing. Last night, till he went to bed, Hope Uzodinma had given a clear directive that Mark Uchendu should be delivered as candidate of the APC. The consideration was simple: since the late Sen. Uwajumogu came from Ihitte Uboma, it would be just and fair to allow another Ihitte Uboma man to complete the running term. But that decision never went down well with Nwajiuba, who immediately mobilized every Abuja-contact he has to pressurize Governor Uzodinma to adopt Frank Ibezim, who is Nwajiuba’s kinsman from the same Ehime Mbano. A Governor who while saying his night prayers blessed Uchendu as candidate later woke up with morning prayers in which Ibezim was the candidate. All things being equal, Ibezim is the senatorial candidate of the APC in Okigwe.
The protest has already begun, though in hushed tones. How could a minister be so unfair to foist his kinsman on us, even when we have other ostensibly more qualified aspirants? What about the LGAs that have not gone to the Senate at all? Apart from working for Okorocha as commissioner, what is the political history and experience of Ibezim? These are the questions which the APC stakeholders in Okigwe ask themselves. Of course, this protest will kill the possibility of the party to win the senatorial contest.
Further, Araraume is also expected to declare himself winner of the primaries, having assembled his men to produce results which will portray him as having clearly won the primaries. But also, in the end, Araraume will step down his aspiration, and will build a consensus which will likely settle for Charlse Onyirimba and work to deliver him at the polls. What is expected in the APC in Okigwe is what Thomas Hobbes calls “warre”. It is a war of everyone against everyone else. Onye egbuoro, agbaa ulo ya oku!