Speaking the Nations Mind

Sowore And The Youth Factor


The media especially the social segment has been awash recently with the return to the country of a presidential aspirant, former students’ leader, Omoyele Sowore.
It would have gone unnoticed like most events of the day but for the tumultuous crowd that came out to welcome him and the traffic snag that it generated within the precincts of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport and the interconnecting roads.
For those who could spare a little time for students’ union politics in the universities in the late eighties and early nineties, the name would need little or no introduction.
Sowore was the brave young man who held the reins of Students’ Union government as President of the University of Lagos Chapter and had ceaseless battles with the university authorities, student cultists and the then military government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.
Significally, because of its several anti-people policies, the IBB administration experienced several students’ riots that often spiraled out of the campuses onto the adjoining streets and areas to mobilize the masses against the government.
It could be argued from a generational perspective that students’ unionism reached the peak of radicalism during this period; it was incessant just as it was profound on scale.
It would appear rather simple now for the uninitiated but to take on a brutish military Gestapo at that time required the indomitable courage of the steel-hearted.
Therefore, there is much to admire in a student union leader of that era because they put their lives on the firing line.
Sowore did not only confront the establishment but equally endangered his life in the even more dangerous battles with cult groups when cultists ruled the universities and their overbearing activities riled the minds.
The young man suffered untold hardship by way of various arrests and detentions, ceaseless threats to his life (there is an account that he was forcefully injected with poison by cultists) and dismissal.
That he survived all these difficulties showed an indefatigable spirit to overcome all odds and that God had other plans for him in the future.
Sowore has displayed singular bravery once again by aspiring for the top most position of presidency, neither even governor of his state, nor senator of his senatorial district, House of Representatives Member nor local government chairman for that matter.
As an online critic put it, it shows that he is not afraid to thread where angels dread. His take it back message is very apt for the times and conforms to the vision and philosophy of his campaign.
The fearless activities has taken his message to far and beyond to those in the Diaspora notably Canada, U.S., UK and others, and back home in Nigeria, he has visited several cities and met with relevant prominent personalities to drum up support because he believes in consultations.
At these fora, he discussed the prevailing problems of Nigeria, challenges ordinary Nigerians face and constantly reassures them that their days of facing these problems were numbered.
His followership cuts across ethnic lines and certainly beyond his Yoruba tribe.
The barrage of reactions to online publications indicates there are as many who believe in his vision just as those who think he is a pretender.
Aside his radical pedigree, he is well organized, focused and smart with a clear strategy on how he hopes to wrest the presidency from the hands of “looters”.
His on-line publication, Sahara Reporters has been of immense benefit in unraveling shady deals involving power brokers and giving a bite to the voice for justice.
For now, Sowore has not announced his political platform and the issue of independent candidacy is not yet clearly defined in the country’s constitution nor tested in practice.
He certainly needs a good platform to actualize his vision. It will get clearer in the days ahead.
Remarkably, Sowore is not the only aspirant of youthful age or disposition who is gunning for the nation’s number one seat.
There are other contenders such as the sweet talking motivational speaker, Fela Durotoye, 46, who has managed to stir some serious online debate on the chances of a new comer.
Former Central Bank Deputy Governor, political economist and lawyer by training, Kingsley Moghalu is another formidable ‘young’ contender.
Former Cross River governor (1999-2007), Donald Duke,56, has since thrown his urbanely styled hat into the ring.
Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Hassan Daukwambo has also made it clear he is throwing his cap into the presidential ring.
Most of the military heads of state in Nigeria’s history, by their official age, were less than or barely 40years old when they mounted the saddle.
However, with the advent of democracy, the “oldies” have taken over control and not in any hurry to quit the scene for the younger generation.
But we live in a world of paradoxes: women want a female president yet when they have the chance to elect one, they would ignore her and choose the male candidate instead.
The youths who recently got a boost with the signing into law of the not too young to run bill by President Buhari have long sought for a president who is youthful.
Significantly, the youth in Nigeria make up a large proportion of the voting population. Will they embrace the chance in 2019 or blow it?
But whether Sowore or any of the young ones becomes the president in 2019 or not, the political landscape would no longer be the same.
This is so because Nigeria cannot be isolated from the political gale that is blowing across the world with the old men and women giving way to the younger ones.

Ojenagbon is a public affairs commentator.