Monday, April 18, 2022

Omoyele Sowore and the 2023 general elections Free Sowore now!


Omoyele Sowore and the 2023 general elections

Free Sowore now!


                                         Omoyele Sowore 

By Salako Kayode


It is three years now since the APC regime led by Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) arrested Omoyele Sowore, “Sahara Reporters” publisher and National Chair of the “African Action Congress” (AAC).  

Omoyele Sowore was arrested at midnight on August 3, 2019, while in preparation for a protest which was titled “Revolution Now”. The arrest of Sowore was followed by massive resistance locally but also internationally. Despite Court orders the Department of State Services (DSS) refused to release him for several months. After sustained pressure he was released on 5 December 2019. But he was re-arrested in the Court premises within a few hours of been released! Sowore was finally released on 24 December 2019 with stringent conditions. These included that he has to stay in Federal Capital Territory. Till today the trumped-up charges against him have not been removed, the case has been adjourned many times.

The trumped-up charges against Sowore and the claim by the government that Sowore acted treasonably for calling for a protest titled “RevolutionNow” have been rejected by Justice Maureen Onyetenu of the Federal High Court, Lagos. The Court ruled that “RevolutionNow” campaigners acted within their constitutional rights in calling and organizing the campaign. In the past the president Muhammadu Buhari, as a presidential candidate of CPC in 2011, had also called for revolution. Similarly, former president Olusegun Obasanjo has also called for revolution. We therefore demand the immediate and unconditional release of Sowore.

Those who aren’t happy with Sowore’s role in exposing corrupt politicians have continued attacking him. The most recent bizarre attack on Omoyele Sowore’s was the deactivation on the country’s electronic biometrical system of his international passport, voter card, national identity card and driver’s license. They were only reactivated after a series of campaigns that exerted pressure on the government. This kind of attack is outrageous and a gross violation of most basic human and democratic rights.

This attack is just another one out of many that have been carried out against him since his arrest in August, 2019. These attacks include: restricting him to Abuja for over two years now; sponsoring thugs to attack him at court premises on different occasions; even firing shots at him as was the case in May last year when police officer Ataline Daniel shot at Sowore during a protest at Unity Fountain.

As Nigeria is moving toward general elections, Omoyele Sowore has declared that he will stand as a candidate for the February 25th 2023 presidential elections. The governorship and state assembly elections will be held on March 11, 2023.

These elections will mark the seventh general elections since the beginning of the current civil rule since 1999. The important part of this is that the high hopes and expectations of the Nigerian people from the regime have been dashed into the dust bowl. Almost eight years now all of the promises made by the Buhari Muhammad and “All Progressive Congress” (APC) have been broken and replaced with hardship and frustration, high cost of living, increases in electricity tariffs, fuel scarcity, high level of insecurity and unemployment.

The crisis is endless and the search for an alternative can push many people to turn to Sowore, although there are still pockets of crisis in the African Action Congress (AAC).

Political Crisis

Omoyele Sowore, the AAC presidential candidate, a former student leader and publisher of the well-known “Sahara Reporters”, is unarguably the most prominent among young people seeking an alternative. His campaign, which rests primarily on the youth population, aims to challenge the establishment in leading the country forward, basing himself on the popular masses and a left approach.

Apart from being a fighter for youth and people’s rights, what is also very important is that Sowore has declared that he is going to run his campaign on a socialist programme.

As Vanguard News (March 1, 2022) wrote:

"Sowore has formally announced his intention to contest for the position of president in the 2023 general elections. While making the declaration in Abuja on Tuesday, he said that he would run a socialist government focusing on worker’s welfare, free education, job creation and pension reforms" .

The AAC leadership crisis

Although Omoyele Sowore has declared his candidature, things are quite unclear and contradictory inside the AAC.

Sowore was the elected and founding national chair of the AAC while Leonard Nzenwa was the national secretary. While Omoyele was in DSS detention, Leonard Nzenwa called an NEC meeting of the party and got himself elected as chairman. As soon as he got elected he expelled Omoyele Sowore and some other party cadres! This generated a revolt among the ranks of the party members – many accusing Leonard Nzenwa of being a state agent trying to hijack the party in conjunction with the decisions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Leonard Nzenwa has disowned Omoyele Sowore who has declared his intention to run for president in 2023 under the platform of the party, saying that Sowore was expelled from the party in 2019 and cannot contest for any election on its platform. There is an appeal case in Court and that will determine if Sowore will be on the ballot for the 2023 presidential race. If Sowore does not win at the appeal, then there will be no radical and pro-working-class candidate on the ballot, and that is why it is important to fight for Sowore’s victory

For a socialist programme

During his declaration on Tuesday 1st March 2022 at the Women Development Centre in CBD Area of Abuja, over one thousand Nigerians filled the hall. It was a memorable gathering and filled with energetic young people who are dissatisfied with the corrupt ruling class that both the APC and PDP represent.

Sowore while making the declaration, said that he would run a socialist government focusing on workers’ welfare, free education, job creation, and pension reforms. He stated: “Nigerian workers, a living wage is coming your way. What I am saying to you is that an N100,000 monthly minimum wage is too small (for Nigerian workers today). Nigerian students, help is coming your way because we will give you free and qualitative education with bursary, grants, and scholarships. To the unemployed young people of Nigeria, I can only promise you one thing – jobs. I am also going to reform the pension system.”

To us, in Revolutionary Socialist Movement (RSM), these are very important demands that reflect the needs of the suffering Nigerian people. But good intentions are not enough. The struggle for the socialist transformation of Nigeria requires a programme that includes nationalization of the banks and of the key sectors of the economy. This is the only way to be able to satisfy the needs of the popular masses and their demands, i.e., by taking away the main means of productions and distribution of wealth from the hands of the greedy, parasitic and corrupt billionaires. Nationalisation of the key sectors, as we very often stress, must be combined with democratic control and management by workers and ordinary people. As socialists, therefore, we give critical support to Sowore.

It is likely that his campaign ahead of the 2023 general elections will receive support from very big numbers of class-conscious people, socialists and genuine activists. His candidature will enable many people who come from different backgrounds and are fighting on different fronts and issues to come together and join in struggle, with a common view to achieve a social and political change. 

Our position as RSM is that only through the socialist transformation of Nigerian society can we bring about lasting change and fight against increasing capitalist barbarism. Lots of young people are yearning for change and many of them will navigate towards the Sowore campaign – though such a mood will become clear only after the appeal court judgment. Electing young people does not atomically solve the problem because there are already young people elected presently in All Peoples Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and didn’t do anything fundamentally different from the policies of their parties.   

The struggle ahead of us is a struggle between the rich and the poor, a struggle of classes. It is taking place now, ahead of the 2023 general elections and will continue after the elections in case one of the major capitalist political parties wins. We must be ready to build the momentum of struggle, because there is no hope under the two political parties of big business. If Sowore gets the party ticket, we will need to ready to use this opportunity to build the movement and the necessary momentum to bring about political changes.

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