By Irechukwu Okere
The battle for late Senator Benjamin Uwajumogus’s successor in the 9th senate would have been on its topmost gear if the globe was not plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic. No doubt, the coronavirus has continued to dominate all public discourse. However, we cannot hurriedly forget most of the salient issues begging our attention back home here in Imo state, especially as it concerns the Imo North Senatorial election, which comes up in no sooner than later.
No matter how one looks at it, Okigwe senatorial district has remained top-notch in the history of elections in Imo state. Many times, the outcome of elections in the six local governments senatorial zone baffled many political pundits and analysts. The latest political drama from the much-touted Imo North was the keenly contested rerun between late senator Benjamin Uwajumogu and his closest political rival, senator Athan Achonu. The tension in this political turbulent part of Imo state was doused with the declaration of late Uwajumogu as the winner of the election by INEC, after pulling a total of 56,076 votes to defeat his closest rival, Senator Athan Achonu, who got a total of 43,815 votes.
With the death and interment of the late Ihite-Uboma born senator and former speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Benjamin Uwajumogu, the political fire within the Imo North axis of the state seemed reignited – thanks to the COVID-19 that calmed the tempo awhile. It is, therefore, worthwhile to take a cursory look at the contestants in order to whet the appetite of some political and public affairs analysts, which seemed daunted by the current global pandemic.
The first among the contestants is late Senator Uwajumogu’s closest political rival in the last election, Senator Athan Achonu. Chief Athan Nneji Achonu was born on 31st May 1959. He is an indigene of Ehime Mbano in Imo State. His education dates back from Madonna High School Etiti in Imo State, Government College Umuahia in Abia State from whence he proceeded to John Cabot University in Rome Italy.
He is an astute businessman who over the years has recorded giant achievements in the business world. Amongst his many successful companies which he has taken to an enviable peak are Nejach Engineering Limited, Okebaram Resources Limited, Mathan Nigeria Limited, Orient Refining Company Nigeria Limited, and Chia Enterprises Limited. His leadership roles which are gallantly evidenced in his business operations clearly give him an edge in the business world. His stint with the business world began in his mid–20s and he has over the years established himself as a key figure both in the corporate world and in the government. Chief Athan Achonu has aligned himself with several philanthropic projects as well as with international and national groups; through these involvements, he has left indelible prints in the minds of many. His dogged qualities have equally sharpened, distinguished him, and placed him on a platform with the other eminently qualifies Imo North Senatorial candidates.
Next in line is a name that is well known throughout Imo state and beyond. A frontline governorship candidate in over four political dispensations, Senator Godwin Ifeanyi Ararume. Born on 16th December 1958, Ifeanyi Godwin Araraume attended St. Eugene’s Primary School, Eziukwu Aba in present-day Abia State and St. Christopher Primary school, Umuluwe, Osuachara in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area, Imo State. At the completion of his primary education, he proceeded to Sapele Technical College, Sapele in Delta State and later to Dick Tiger Memorial Secondary School, Amaigbo, Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo State where he finally completed his Secondary School Education.
He bagged a first Degree in Business Administration from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, United States Of America. He also has a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. Senator Ifeanyi Araraume was in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for two terms (eight years). He won election into the Senate in 1999 and 2003 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Senator Araraume’s accomplishments are not restricted to politics alone. In business, he has built an Empire that is today providing jobs for many Nigerians irrespective of tribal and religious differences. He is the Chairman of Exclusive Stores, Harmony Properties Limited, Climax Insurance Broker’s among others.
He is currently building two industries in Owerri to strengthen the State’s economy and provide jobs for the Imo Youth. He is also building a branch of Exclusive Stores and Bakery in Owerri.
Another egg head in the race is Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim, the immediate past Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly under Rochas Okorocha and running mate to the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) in the 2019 election, Uche Nwosu. Born in Umuonyeneri Village of Umualumoke in Okigwe L.G.A., Imo State, Rt. Hon. Ihim had his Primary education at the Union Primary School, Orba in Nsukka and later proceeded to Oboloafor Boys Secondary School for his secondary education, wherein he obtained his West African Senior School Certificate and General Certificate of Education.
He later sojourned to Imo State University, Owerri, where he bagged his Bachelor’s Degree in Government and Public Administration. Rt. Hon. Ihim later bagged a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Pacific Western University, USA in 2011. The man Acho Ihim is one of the political front liners of Okigwe Local government cum Okigwe zone in particular and Imo state and Nigeria in general.