I Will Defeat Buhari In 2019-Omoyele Sowore

The Publisher of the popular news website, Sahara Reporters, Omoyele
Sowore, has thrown his hat into Nigerias political ring. He is now
gearing up to run in the countrys forthcoming presidential election in
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: Ive 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 Nigerias
ignored and dispossessed people. It will be the most direct engagement of
a people in their own political future. Ive 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 Nigerias 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 weve
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-elected?
SOWORE: Just a little over a week ago over 100 young girls were taken by
Boko Haram in Dapchi. Buharis 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
presidents 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 thats 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 Ill 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 change!
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 Norths turn of leadership rotation? What do you say to that?
SOWORE: Where has our Turn by Turn politics gotten us? Im 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 Buharis 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. Im 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 wont bother about zoning when they
realize the person running the country is completely detribalized and
doesnt 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 Buharis
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: Buharis 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 countrys
vision and the paths to their actualization aside from the propaganda we
see on NTA? Today, we are impressed by Chinas 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 Nigerias thieving elites. I will be instituting a series of
four-year plans to overlap with Nigerias 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. Ive 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 Americas 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 nation.
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 results.
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 revolution.

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Author: Our Reporter