Sowore: The One-Man Show! By Omole Ibukun

0
151

AS this week wraps up, I’ll love to congratulate Omoyele Sowore and the radical faction of the African Action Congress (AAC) on winning their party back. According to news reports; “The appeal court held that the judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, lacked the jurisdiction to have done so, as the matter was an internal affair of a political party. In 2019, Justice Ekwo in his judgement held that Mr Sowore, who was the presidential flag-bearer of the AAC, was properly suspended by the National Executive Committee of the party.”

Truly, Sowore and members of the party do not deserve to lose their party after using their radical politics to popularise the party, no matter the limitations of their ‘radicalism’. Sowore became the Chairman of AAC in August 2018 and adding his stint as a factional chairman for the radical faction of AAC, he has served as the Party’s Chairman for close to four years and will most probably emerge as the Party’s presidential candidate for the second time in that period.

It seems to have become a silently accepted fact in radical circles, going by the example of the decline of the National Conscience Party (NCP) after Gani Fawehinmi stepped down as its leader, that radical parties that are not built around scientific alternative programmes and policies must be built around a certain influential figure who becomes a sit-tight leader or else such parties won’t last. In NCP’s case, Gani Fawehinmi rejected the option of becoming the sit-tight leader of that party although he did not fully embrace the democratic socialist alternative while he was leading NCP even though he later approved of socialism.

While in the leadership of NCP, he opted for a welfarist humanist alternative that was not scientific enough to become a living principle for those who were motivated to join NCP by Gani Fawehinmi’s personality. Wikipedia categorises NCP’s political position as nationalist/national conservatist centre right. Because of this, it was easy for the likes of Obayuwana, Yinusa, Falana, etc., to change the course of the party after Gani’s tenure.

But even Gani learned from this experience when in June 2006 after leaving the NCP leadership, he said that “we need a socialist party with socialist economic programme. If you form this, I will join. We don’t need power at all cost. We need power under a platform with socialist programme to fight the West… I am not happy by the way things are going.” Even Gani himself had already pointed the way forward and advised on what next to be done. This advice might still be useful for the Sowore-led AAC which seems to have embraced the method of building radical parties around influential radical figures, rather than a clear ideology opposing capitalism.

In actual sense, going by that analysis, Sowore-led AAC is the party of the 0.6% despite all the ‘radical’ posturing and sloganeering. Right now, the question on your mind is: who should we then support for 2023? But I think the question to ask is: why are you not an option? Or why are there no good people with reliable plans in the options available? Because the electoral system is so rigged that people like me and you cannot be an option. People who do not have millions or billions in their bank accounts cannot be an option. What we should then be talking about is how to fix that rigged electoral system with a revolution, not how to submit to it. Only people like Sowore who are billionaires are allowed to get to be candidates in this electoral system. According to news reports, Sowore is worth a minimum of ten million dollars (4.15 billion naira).

And truly, Sowore is very influential. Despite my criticism of Sowore’s candidature in 2019, I personally cannot deny his influence on what crystallised into the #EndSARS Movement. I remember at least one Day-of-Rage #RevolutionNow protest that I attended despite the embargo that the Buhari regime tried to place on protesting before #EndSARS happened. I was part of the October 1, 2020 protests organised by the RevolutionNow movement in Lagos that sought to break that embargo. I followed the call-outs of celebrities by Sowore when the #EndSARS movement kicked off in early October, asking celebs who claimed to be radical to participate in #EndSARS. In the minds of some Nigerians, protests became Sowore’s trademark of sorts. While some were surprised or dejected that despite all these, Sowore’s leadership was rejected at the #EndSARS protests in Abuja, I wasn’t. It was because on that level of consciousness, no #EndSARS protesters were ready to leave their fates to any leader after they had already taken their power in their own hands. What surprised me was when protests (which can be a very good combination to electoral campaigns) became an abomination for the Sowore-led movement immediately the election season began.

Starting with the fuel hike rallies called off by the leadership of organised labour in Nigeria, I was once again looking forward to seeing Sowore put his radical influence to use for alternative calls for protests, but his reaction was limited to criticism of labour leaders without any alternative action. I was also able to attend the declaration of the Sowore Presidential campaign in the early days of March, and I caught myself asking why the crowd was not mobilised for a rally or a protest alongside the declaration of that presidential aspiration. This was when fuel queues were still an eyesore on Abuja roads, and insecurity was the order of the day, as it now still is. I was surprised that this radical campaign was going to stop at asking Nigerians to wait to vote in 2023 before confronting their pressing immediate needs of high cost of living. I felt like we were all being duped somehow, but it was not yet clear.

Last week, I wrote while predicting “The Obi-tuary of the Labour Party in Nigeria” about how the Sowore-led radical faction of the AAC duped me on nomination forms. I wrote that: “I was also commending the radical Sowore-led AAC too in that article but they also gbé mi ní handicap (fooled me). The radical AAC made an exemplary release saying that nomination forms and expression of interest forms was free in their party and I was applauding that until few days later when they announced that presidential candidates must make an obligatory donation of five hundred thousand (500,000) naira and governorship and senatorial candidates must make an obligatory donation of three hundred thousand (300,000) naira. In a country where only 2% of the 70 million population of bank account holders have more than N500,000 in their accounts (and that’s 1.4m people which is less than 1% of the population of the country), it can only mean that even the radical Sowore-led faction of the AAC is not a party for the masses or the common man. It’s a party of the 1%.”

We build illusions in someone and then build personality cults around them. I won’t be able to write this if not that I’m passionate to see us break away from our illusions, because the personality cult around Sowore is so strong that criticising or analysing him can get one to be excommunicated and hated by those comrades and friends who put their hope for a Nigerian revolution in him. For them, Sowore is the myth that must not be demystified. His personality is the revolution. Laughable! They do not know that what they are doing is not fair to Sowore himself, because no one should ever have to carry the burden of a ‘Messiah’.

In actual sense, going by that analysis, Sowore-led AAC is the party of the 0.6% despite all the ‘radical’ posturing and sloganeering. Right now, the question on your mind is: who should we then support for 2023? But I think the question to ask is: why are you not an option? Or why are there no good people with reliable plans in the options available? Because the electoral system is so rigged that people like me and you cannot be an option. People who do not have millions or billions in their bank accounts cannot be an option. What we should then be talking about is how to fix that rigged electoral system with a revolution, not how to submit to it. Only people like Sowore who are billionaires are allowed to get to be candidates in this electoral system. According to news reports, Sowore is worth a minimum of ten million dollars (4.15 billion naira).

I’m not surprised that anyone that will contest the presidential primaries within AAC against Sowore must be someone who is ready to pay at least five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) for the dubious “obligatory donations.” This is because Sowore is joining the rigged electoral system to make elections being about giving the poor the right to vote, but not the right to be voted for. In this case, Sowore is disenfranchising at least 99.4% of Nigerians from contesting for presidency on the platform of the AAC. Poor Nigerians are told to go and get their PVCs but no one wants any of those poor working class Nigerians to lead the way in providing solutions to the problems that pinch them the most. This is the rigged game of Nigeria’s electoral system and Sowore is playing along because it pays him by the virtue of the class he belongs to.

Last week, I was ranting about the sudden illusion in an anti-worker billionaire like Peter Obi, and this week it’s about Sowore, because it seems we keep repeating the same political process while expecting different results. We keep ‘packaging’ new ‘Messiahs’ for ourselves with the hope that such ‘Messiahs’ will not turn to dictators. We move from having illusions in Buhari (a former military dictator), to having illusions in Tinubu (the dictator of Lagos State), to having illusions in Jonathan (the ‘clueless’ president we voted out for ‘Mr Integrity’), to having illusions in Osinbajo whose hands were tied for the past over seven years, and on and on like that. When will we learn that our salvation is in our own hands?!

We build illusions in someone and then build personality cults around them. I won’t be able to write this if not that I’m passionate to see us break away from our illusions, because the personality cult around Sowore is so strong that criticising or analysing him can get one to be excommunicated and hated by those comrades and friends who put their hope for a Nigerian revolution in him. For them, Sowore is the myth that must not be demystified. His personality is the revolution. Laughable! They do not know that what they are doing is not fair to Sowore himself, because no one should ever have to carry the burden of a ‘Messiah’.

For those of us who believe in the collective intelligence of the working people, we will keep the debate alive and keep trusting in the consciousness of the masses that we hope to raise with our different theories and our words. We will rather do this than risk falling prey to the dupe of the most authoritarian capitalist tendencies available. We will rather do this than give any form of support to another One-Man-Show.

Exposing the flaws of Sowore’s personality is not about Sowore’s personality itself, but about the fact that no one is perfect enough to ‘Save Our Souls’ but our collective intelligence is the only way we can escape this systemic oppression and exploitation. That collective intelligence can only be harnessed in a climate of open debate, and not a climate of hostility to debates and analyses (because that could lead to the demystification of the One Great Man). Collective intelligence only exposes the flaws of everybody just so that someone else can cover for those flaws with their strength, not a demystification to deride that person whose flaws are being analysed.

Sowore is putting up a good ‘One-Man-Show’ for 2023, but before 2023, how do we intend to survive the social crises that the country has been plunged into? How do we intend to go back to the culture of protests now that our protest ‘influencer’ has moved on to a presidential campaign? How do we address the ASUU strike with mass protests rather than wait for education to be privatised by a supposed ‘radical’ Presidential candidate who has taken every meaningful campaign opportunity to support privatisation? Or whose campaign manifestoes mixes the worst of the far right with the best of the far left, blurring the lines of class conflict as efficiently as possible? I mean, who still campaigns for Public Private Partnership (another name for privatisation) even when the rotten leadership of the organised labour had already been prevailed upon by the masses to demand for the re-nationalisation of the electricity sector? According to the manifesto on the power sector on the Sowore’s AAC website: “Our plans leverage public-private partnerships to draw in investments to grow Nigeria’s electricity generation and transmission capacity.”

As humans, we look for great men because we subconsciously feel the power of capitalism is too great to be confronted. Ursula Le Guin expressed this during the National Book Awards in 2014 that: “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings… Power can be resisted and changed by human beings; resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art – the art of words.”

For those of us who believe in the collective intelligence of the working people, we will keep the debate alive and keep trusting in the consciousness of the masses that we hope to raise with our different theories and our words. We will rather do this than risk falling prey to the dupe of the most authoritarian capitalist tendencies available. We will rather do this than give any form of support to another One-Man-Show.

Ibukun writes from Abuja, Nigeria and can be contacted on 09060277591

close
newsletter

Let's Keep you updated

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER AND STAY UP TO DATE

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here