Thoughts on the Sowore Saga
-Kene Okwunze, ABH Press
Many who paid keen attention to Buhari’s decade-long climb up the rungs of the political ladder will have a difficult time forgetting the name “Omoyele Sowore”. With an arsenal of activism, Ivy League education, and a vast social media influence, Sowore has continued to stay relevant in the Nigerian political circle. Ever before he led the students of UNILAG to a remarkable protest following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections, he was known to have played a considerable role in the 1989 protest against the conditions of the $120 million IMF loan.
Drawing lessons from books of history, it might not be entirely false to regard him as one of Buhari’s warhead. When it became obvious that a more strategic opposition was indeed required to oust the previous PDP administration, Omoyele Sowore – the founder and publisher of Sahara reporters heeded the clarion call and joined the opposition. As a thorn in the flesh of various PDP regimes, he was instrumental in unseating the incumbent president of Nigeria.
Fast track to August 2019, Sowore is being held up by the DSS for a supposed “offence” similar to one previously committed by President Buhari himself. In growing intolerance to a full exercise of Human rights, the DSS issued the arrest of Omoyele Sowore for trying to arrange a protest aimed at pushing for a revolution in the government. Although diverse interpretations of the word “revolution” exist, a unifying mark lies in the fact that “revolution” as used by Sowore is similar in spelling, pronunciation, and perhaps contextual meaning as used by President Buhari in his 2011 campaign.
The inherent differences between the exemplary response of President Jonathan to Buhari’s call for revolution AND the punitive response of President Buhari to Sowore’s call are easily discernible. While one response was in recognition to the constitutional freedom of expression, the other was in realization of the need to further recruit prisoners.
Today, Sowore joins the ever growing list which bears names such as Sambo Dasuki, Nnamdi Kanu, and Ibrahim Zakzaky. While the European Union as well as many notable personalities have continued to emphasize “peaceful protests as a cardinal part of democracy”, Nigerians are hopeful that her judicial system weighs in on this issue.