The Political Courage of Omoyele Sowore
“Free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.”—Barack Obama.
Omoyele Sowore’s recent emergence as the African Action Congress presidential candidate bears testimony to his political fortitude over the years, despite personal and collective losses, threats to personal safety, and loss of substantial individual liberties. Sowore indicated he would be energetically involved in combustive politics from an exceptionally young age. He developed political courage from his upbringing and revolutionary days at the University of Lagos. It has become impossible to sidestep him in Nigeria’s political culture and in voyages around public giants who have confronted institutional barricades in Nigeria’s political space. He is constantly in our faces, in the substance and politics of burning national issues, as exemplified in his physical involvement in efforts to rescue Nigeria at critical junctures such as the June 12 dialogues, the #EndSARS movement, and several other national upheavals.
The publisher of Sahara Reporters needs little introduction as a former student union president at the University of Lagos, social and political activist, citizen journalist, and publisher of a globally acclaimed news publication. His footprints are everywhere around the media space, where his disruptions are far-reaching and impactful. In just about the same way, he has lent his voice to virtually all people related social and political causes of his time. But it is in the larger elective politics of this country that he seeks to make the most impression. Sowore wants to change the status quo. This is the reason Omoyele Stephen Sowore wants to govern Nigeria in 2023. But is this even possible? Do ordinary citizens become political and social nobles?
Nothing is impossible to those who believe and share an abiding faith in the possibility of prosperity for the greater mass of citizens. Faith and trust can be contagious, as several movements have shown over the years. That is the subtext from the above quote from America’s former president. Barack Obama goes on to remind us: “In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.”
Sowore’s political courage is one of the staunchest of our time. Political tenderfoots should find the starch of his character helpful in schools of political culture and social criticism. Critical studies must unravel its mysteries and pick the inner and more delicate threads that have held him in our political space for so long despite inconveniences and the inherent dangers in activism. In the 1990s, this brave intellectual confronted the military. It was inconvenient to do so, and this was seen as a pathway toward self-martyrdom. The scars of multiple life-threatening battles still reside with him, in a manner of speaking. He has been beaten, bruised, and battered for no iniquities of his own. His greatest crime to date in Nigeria’s socio-political space is his restless voice which grates the conscience of oppressors, and his refusal to stay silent in the face of mass oppression, injustice, and economic asphyxiation of those on the margins and outside the loop of Nigeria’s class structure.
Employing remarkable legal and political courage, Sowore emerged from a tortuous court process that affirmed him as the authentic chairman of a party he founded for the people. Now, on the long walk towards the presidency, he must not lose some of his unique arrowroot that has come to define the immense value of his political and social currency. He would have let a whole generation down if this were to happen. These folks see his consistency, fortitude, and strength of convictions as inspiration in a country where visions of greatness have failed to come to pass. But there is hope because we have people with courage and dreams in this country.