Omoyele Sowore:I Will Definitely Defeat Buhari In 2019 Election - Oauvoices |campus information at its peak


Saturday, 10 March 2018

Omoyele Sowore:I Will Definitely Defeat Buhari In 2019 Election

In this interview with Editor-in-Chief Musikilu Mojeed, Mr. Sowore explains
why he is joining politics, how he will defeat President Muhammadu
Buhari, how he will run Nigeria if elected, and what he will do with Sahara
Reporters once he becomes president.
PT: You have indicated you might run for president in the 2019
election. Why are you crossing into partisan politics?
SOWORE: I’ve always been in the forefront of the agitation and
struggle to move Nigeria forward – first as a student and youth activist
during military regimes. Since 1999, my focus has been on improving
and sanitizing the democratic space. This is a natural progression of
my commitment to moving Nigeria forward. This will not be politics as
usual. I have always been a part of the movement to move Nigeria
forward. I have always played a leading role in that movement.
This is a movement. It will be the largest mobilization of Nigeria’s
ignored and dispossessed people. It will be the most direct
engagement of a people in their own political future. I’ve always
offered Nigerians a platform for amplifying their concerns and dreams
for Nigeria. I am continuing that struggle. Yes – we will be part of a
coalition of parties. These will all be progressive parties – committed
to nothing other than the advancement of the Nigerian nation. It is
Nigeria’s moment to see revolutionary politics in action!
PT: Are you not abandoning activism that way?

SOWORE: Activism is simply advancing a pro-people agenda. For too
long we have focused on using borrowed voices in the political realm
while we’ve focused on creating awareness. That has failed. Since
1999 – the progressive movement has been disappointed by the
actions and inactions of those we have left to handle the affairs of
Nigeria while we reduced ourselves to election monitors, NGO leaders,
and street protesters.
In the course of doing these, we have inadvertently supported some of
the cruelest and mediocre to occupy political power. Sometimes the
most revolutionary thing to do is to get into the ring. Obama was an
activist who became president. Mandela was an activist who became
president. Everyone will agree that their principled commitment to
struggle continued even when they were in office. So it is possible to
stay committed to an activist agenda even when in office.
PT: Are you saying Buhari has failed and not worthy of being re-
SOWORE: Just a little over a week ago – over 100 young girls were
taken by Boko Haram in Dapchi. Buhari’s appeal was supposed to be a
tough stance against corruption and an ability to address the security
crises posed by Boko Haram. No single major victory has been
notched in the anti-corruption fight. Boko Haram is still alive and
kicking. And the president’s inaction and lack of leadership are causing
the herdsmen-farmers conflicts to take on an even more dangerous
dimension. The Nigerian state is in shambles.
PT: Election is less than a year away. Are you still holed up in your
base in New York? When are you going to find a party and then
mobilize support for your candidacy?

SOWORE: I think it is incontrovertible that in and out of Nigeria, I have
been an effective contributor to the struggle for the advancement of
good governance in Nigeria. The efforts to mobilize progressives and
to form a coalition of progressive parties and organizations is
underway. I am using my time in the U.S. to mobilize diaspora
Nigerians. This weekend, for instance, I will be holding a town hall in
Maryland with Nigerians. I am also spending a great deal of my time
meeting with my strategy and policy teams – members of whom
include some really accomplished Nigerians. Unknown to many I have
been on the ground Nigeria in the last two months.The work goes on. I
will certainly be spending more time on the ground in Nigeria.
PT: Prosecuting election in Nigeria is known to cost several billions of
naira. Where will you find the resources for this project?
SOWORE: Elections are always expensive – that’s true. However what
is also true is that monies spent in Nigerian politics are not mainly
focused on political mobilization or electioneering campaigns and
organization. As a political movement for true change, we will not be
spending money on buying votes or distributing rice to the electorate.
Our monetary needs will be greatly reduced. We will be sourcing funds
directly from the Nigerian people. Nigerians have demonstrated a
capacity to devote their resources to projects that they believe in. The
recent team that represented Nigeria in bobsledding at the Winter
Olympics raised almost $200,000 – a lot of it from Nigerians. We are
already seeing and receiving commitments for support. Our approach
will revolutionize the way politics is funded in Nigeria. There is also a
lot of support that is coming in the form of goodwill donations. For
instance – I’ll be in Maryland this weekend at a town hall. A group of
concerned Nigerians are funding that event. We also have something
that counts for a lot – an army of technology savvy supporters and
media platforms that will amplify our voice to the Nigerian people.
Barack Obama raised millions of dollars from Nigerians in the US alone
in 2008/2009 and subsequently after. 100,000 Nigerian 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

PT: You are from the south of Nigeria. There are those saying you
should wait until 2023 when Buhari or any other northerner would
have completed the North’s turn of leadership rotation? What do you
say to that?
SOWORE: Where has our “Turn – by – Turn” politics gotten us? I’m a
firm believer that when it comes to the life of a nation – all sentiments
must be set aside and only the most capable hands should be
employed to manage the affairs of Nigerians. If I believed in Buhari’s
ability to lead NIGERIA, I would have supported him. When Jonathan –
a Southerner like me was in office, I had a principled opposition to the
way he was running Nigeria. It was Albert Einstein that said, “it is
madness to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different
outcome.” Nigeria has a unique opportunity in 2019 to elevate
competence over tribalism, elevate character over dishonesty, principle
over indecisiveness. I’m sure when the dust clears there will be
candidates from across Nigeria expressing an interest in the
presidency. Let Nigerians decide who should lead them.

Our patriots from across Nigeria won’t bother about zoning when they
realize the person running the country is completely detribalized and
doesn’t treat anyone different because of their tribe, religion, creed,
and class. We have had it all. Mediocrity hiding behind zoning and a
wicked, selfish sense of entitlement. The only thing zoning does is
empower political actors to enrich themselves and plug their friends
and cronies in the position of authority to steal, kill and destroy. For
the rest of us north or south, we are zoned to misery.
PT: Recently Garba Shehu, a spokesperson to the president, said
Buhari’s followership in Kano and across Nigeria is so huge and
phenomenal that it has to be studied by political scientists. How can
you defeat such a man in 2019?
SOWORE: Buhari’s followership is large – but remember that it took
four tries and an alliance with the South-West and with progressive
democratic forces before he was able to become president. We are all
witnesses to the unprecedented set of circumstances that saw an
incumbent president defeated at the polls. If there is anything we have
learned in the last few years, it is the fact that the Nigerian electorate
has become impatient with purposeless leadership. My candidacy is
generating significant interest across Nigeria, especially amongst the
youth. The youth demographic is the largest single voting block. The
coalition of progressives, youths and previously disenfranchised
Nigerians that we are building will be a force to reckon with. I have
been in the business of building movements since my time as a
student activist in the late 80s and early 90s. I am confident that we
will be able to build a broad coalition of Nigerians committed to taking
their country back and setting it firmly on a path to prosperity and
unprecedented progress.

PT: What will you do differently if elected president of Nigeria?
SOWORE: Nigeria struggles because past presidents have had three
major issues. Firstly, there is an abject absence of a clear vision as to
where the country should be headed. Where should Nigeria be in the
next five, 10 or even 50 years? Where are the national plans that map
out the country’s vision and the paths to their actualization aside from
the propaganda we see on NTA? Today, we are impressed by China’s
sustained growth, but since 1953 China has produced a series of 5-
year plans that has guided their growth. Now they are on their 13th
five-year plan (2016-2020). With that China became the most powerful
and prosperous nation on earth using its populace as its best
resource. China solved its housing crisis and even now boast of
unoccupied apartments in “ghost cities” built in the last 10 years.
China built one of the fastest rail services with an amount of money
equivalent to the sums stolen during the oil imports scam. Same goes
for the UAE. Dubai was built into the architectural marvel that is now a
magnet to Nigeria’s thieving elites. I will be instituting a series of four-
year plans to overlap with Nigeria’s political tenure system that will
chart our path to growth and progress. Secondly, even where a clear
vision might exist, nepotism, tribalism, and favoritism has robbed us of
the service of our best people. I am a completely detribalized Nigerian.
My antecedents are that of an activist that has worked to build
alliances and networks across this nation over the last 30 years.
I understand first hand the value of having competent and capable
people in the right positions. I’ve created a world-class media company
in the last 12 years and taught in a private college for eight years
helping to mold some of America’s greatest minds.
Thirdly, corruption has crippled us as a nation. Where past presidents
have been slow in tackling this issue and sometimes even complicit
through their actions or inactions in promoting corruption, I will be
decisive in dealing with this cancer that has ravaged the Nigerian

PT: You are a long-term activist and indeed a very popular figure
across Nigeria. But Gani Fawehinmi was an activist who served
Nigerians all his life. He made to be president in 2003 but the same
people he served for almost his entire life abandoned him at the polls.
Are you not worried you might get a similar treatment?
SOWORE: Gani was, as you said, a household name across Nigeria.
The reality was that in 2003, there was still some hope and expectation
by the Nigerian people that the status quo political system would be
able to lead Niferia to progress and growth. It is now clear that those
largely naive aspirations were ill-founded. After numerous failed
governments, Nigerians have demonstrated that they are ready to try
new concepts and ideas and to go beyond the status quo in seeking
solutions. That led them to pick a south-south Ijaw man as president
in 2011 and in electing an opposition candidate who had failed to win
the presidency three times before, in 2015. Gani came before his time.
Also, there are other factors now present in our current political reality.
For example, the power of social media helping young people to
engage and interact, the power of technology to help change election
outcomes, an accuracy of results, real-time reporting and capture of
It is also important to state that elections in 2003 and beyond under
Obasanjo and the Peoples Democratic Party were not worthy to be
referred to as credible elections. For instance, just imagine if Nigerians
seized the opportunity offered by Gani in 2003 and thus elected him
over an Olusegun Obasanjo, just imagine where will be today. Imagine,
an Obafemi Awolowo or Aminu Kano over a Shehu Shagari. There is an
appetite by the Nigerian people for candidates with character, and a
proven and demonstrable track record of being able to drive for real
change. The APC has failed Nigerians in this area. The movement we
are building will be offering revolutionary change.
PT: On the platform of which political party are you planning to run?
SOWORE: That is something we are working on. We are currently in
discussions with progressive groups and parties, the goal is to have a
broad coalition of progressive parties that could lend their structures
and ideologies to defeat the old order. When the time is right we will
be announcing what party platforms that will be utilized.
PT: You have spent over 12 years of your life building SaharaReporters
into a formidable news and anti-corruption platform? What becomes of
the website now that you are crossing into partisan politics?
SOWORE: Sahara Reporters will continue to speak truth to power. The
platform is more than just Sowore. When I win the presidency, I will be
turning over all of my assets to a blind trust that will run it. Sahara
Reporters will continue to be run by independent-minded citizen
activists. Even now, the website is managed by several others who
have been groomed and schooled in the founding traditions of the
website. That is what Sahara Reporters is and that is how it will
remain. SaharaReporters is driven by its ever loyal readers and users!
PT: Thank you very much for speaking to us.
SOWORE: Thank you very much too for interviewing me.

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