In May 2010, while many Nigerians were receiving conflicting reports on the state of then-president Umaru Musa Yar’adua, one man knew for sure that he was dead and would call a bewildered presidential aide to pass on the cold news. In 2015, Officials of INEC were startled seeing correct results of the General Elections in the public, given that they had not officially announced them.
For the best part of the last decade, Omoyele Sowore has been at the front and centre of Nigerian politics and that’s no overstatement. From his platform at Sahara Reporters, the online publication that has consistently broken the most sensitive stories which traditional media would rather not broadcast without bullet-proof protection, Sowore has played an inescapable role in the conversations and actions that have seen Nigeria transit to its fourth democratic administration since 1999.
The two incidents highlighted above are among the more noticeable epithets in his trophy collection which also boasts vibrant student unionism and anti-military activism in the Abacha years. He is, on the whole, proud of what he has achieved so far.
But three years after he helped convince Nigerians that the country could not survive another 4 years of the Diezanism under Goodluck Jonathan, Sowore is remorseful and would give everything to now stop the man to whom his anti-Jonathan rally “inadvertently” lent support.
For Sowore, running for the presidency next year is only a “natural progression” in his life as an activist. “In the course of doing these, we have inadvertently supported some of the cruellest and mediocre to occupy political power,” Sowore tells Musikilu Mojeed in an interview about his plans to defeat Buhari next February.
“Obama was an activist who became president. Mandela was an activist who became president”; hence, to him, activism has not only prepared him for the top job but he will do it with about the same zeal and forcefulness of purpose.
As far as he is concerned, the occurrence of another school girls’ kidnap under the Muhammadu Buhari administration renders the president without moral standing to seek another term. Persisting corruption and the “lack of leadership” on the herders and farmers clashes are other points that void Buhari’s plea for an extended mandate.
Sowore is 47 and lives in New York. He was born into a polygamous family where he had to share resources with sixteen siblings. He fits into the clamour among young people to see one of their own lead the country in which they feel in danger of living and dying under the control of military-bred men who have refused to adapt to the times. The argument of having seen and lived in a society where the world works will be one of the competence points of the maverick publisher, and he can claim to relate with the mass competition for resources in the country which has driven up hunger, unemployment and the struggle for survival leading to slavery.
But where will he raise the billions for a campaign?
He does not plan to “spend money on buying votes or distributing rice to the electorate” but will instead source money “directly from the Nigerian people”. He likens his desire to serve Nigeria as her next president to the feat achieved by the Winter Olympic Bobsled team and believes the same outpour of popular funding would work in his favour en route to claiming the Aso Rock. “100,000 Nigerians contributing $200 per person can help fund a clean election devoid of dirty money. With that, we can win the Presidency and bring them back a lot of change!”, Sowore says.
At the present exchange rate, $200 is about 73,000, more than four times the minimum wage of the Nigerian civil servant. In that case, Sowore’s fundraising plan would depend on the fairly comfortable class contributing to his cause. This support will come because people can trust on his proven abilities such as building a “world-class media company”, his “series of four-year plans”, and his vision of assembling a “broad coalition of progressive parties that could lend their structures and ideologies to defeat the old order”.
“The youth demographic is the largest single voting bloc” and it will not matter what crowds the current president pulls at Kano or Kaduna. If only he can get this block to which he belongs to believe in him to root out Nigeria’s “thieving elites”, Sowore will finally get Nigerians to see what they would have got if they had elected leaders like Gani Fawehinmi in the past, instead of Olusegun Obasanjo.