Nigeria has had almost all kinds of presidents; ranging from very dumb and self-centered to very smart and people-centered, but what would it be like having someone like Omoyele Sowore heading the presidency of the country? A scientific answer to this question, I do not have, as we have seen a good number of people who—to prove the critiques of social activism right—brought out their real interests after getting into the government, to show us they weren’t really doing all their activism for the people, but just to use the struggle to create the chance for themselves to get recruited into the cabal of the oppressors; Adams Oshiomole is the chief of people who use the struggle as a means of getting inducted, and then becoming even worse than many of the oppressors he fought while in the struggle. Worth mentioning is the fact that we’ve also had people who were for the people and still remained for the people when they got in the government; example of them is the legendary Bola Ige of Oyo State. So for this reason, it would be very difficult to tell if ‘Yele Sowore would be an Adams Oshiomole or a Bola Ige, but one thing I know for sure—and which in my opinion should be taught to as many people as possible—is that if we truly long for the social change that we really need, it’s high time Nigerian activists stopped just pursuing the tails of the people in government just to get them to perform their functions to their people, and start being in the government too, and at the tables where these policies and laws affecting the people are made. Activists have to start being politicians.
The activists of the old times thought separating themselves from the government and only being the critiques of the government is how to keep the struggle going, as it can only be the side of the people and the side of the government, and any activist who belongs in the circle of the government cannot really be an activist. Well, this thought is right, but in my opinion, bad. It is right because… just look at people like Adams Oshiomole, just look at the heads of these unions we have around and how they have commercialized the struggles. But this thought is bad because it is the reason why the struggle will never bring about any lasting social change or any social change at all. This is why the activists of these times must understand that activism has gone beyond just lifting up placards and revolution has gone beyond taking up arms too, actors of social change must be in government. I want to believe this is the understanding ‘Yele Sowore had that made him contest in the presidential race against the likes of Muhammodu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, and the rest in 2019; this engagement was going to make Nigerians dislike him the more, because—according to people like Burnaboy—Sowore is a “politician” so he is tricky too. This is how most Nigerians think, which tells a lot about how low our social consciousness still is, and also explains why political apathy is a run-through-and-deep thing around here—“politics is bad, politicians are tricky, so we have to leave the politics to the tricky people”. Hence, the unending mess.
You would only think the recent burst of End SARS protest was the movement that would lead to the social change Nigeria needs, or that it shows that social consciousness amongst the people is getting intense, but checking everything up thoroughly, you would see the End SARS protest was not even a movement at that, it was only a ceremony—some sort of event meant to get a couple of people richer, get a couple of people some recognitions and awards, and get some people killed without achieving much. The reason for this is because there was a noise against the government—which is needed for the needed revolution to happen, but the noise was unorganized. Unorganized because most of the people making the noise don’t really know why they were making the noise, most of them just want to shout too because everyone is shouting. And not until a very large number of us understand why there should be a noise and why they must be part of the noise, there can’t really be a movement. More so, the true Nigerian movement is going to need a leader or leaders—not the kinds that just want to participate, but the kinds that actually understand the struggle (because they’ve been in it for a while), the kinds that are truly committed to the cut-across change (not just the partial change), the kinds that understand politics and the people in it, the kinds like Sowore. I said Sowore because how many others like him does Nigeria have again after people like Fela, Fawehinmi, Saro-Wiwa, Giwa and the likes have been gone? Nigerians just need to open their eyes and see Sowore is not the enemy, Sowore being an activist-cum-politician is not the wrong thing to do at this time too, and in fact Sowore is the best option we have right now if we truly are trying to get someone who is for the people in the government. If the youths mean to take charge come 2023 as they have vowed they would, Sowore needs to be the person we are considering for the presidency, or at least someone like him, because right now, I see no better option.
Olusegun Peters is a businessman, an investor and a scholar. He is the founder of primerinfotech.com and pec-ng.com. He is passionate about contributing his knowledge to impacting as many people as possible one person at a time. Read more about Olusegun Peters here