In this exclusive interview with POSTERITY MEDIA, Omoyele Sowore, Sahara Reporters Publisher, speaks on his Presidential ambition, his activism and contributions to Nigeria’s democracy, his scandals and why he should be voted as Nigeria’s President in the 2019 elections.
POSTERITY MEDIA: You’ve built Sahara Reporters into a respected online media platform within and outside Nigeria. Why do you want to leave it to go into the difficult terrain of politics to contest for the Presidency in 2019?
SOWORE: When I established Sahara Reporters in 2006, I had three goals in mind. The first was to provide a platform that would help to safeguard and nurture Nigeria’s democracy. The second was to provide a platform through which the Nigerian people could hold their leaders accountable, and the third was to provide a platform that would allow every Nigerian citizen to have a voice as citizen activists and citizen journalists.
With the support of the Nigerian people and our global base of supporters, we have been able to deliver on those goals.
We helped ensure that Obasanjo’s third term was scuttled. Sahara Reporters was instrumental in ensuring that we had a constitutional transfer of power to Goodluck Jonathan when Yar’adua died. And in 2015, our pioneering efforts at the real-time reporting of electoral results helped to ensure the sanctity of the electoral process, leading to the defeat of an incumbent party.
We’ve done this not just in Nigeria – but across the African continent in nations like Zimbabwe and Gambia.
While we have seen gains in the democratic process, Nigeria has remained stagnated. Corruption is still rife. Unemployment is at the highest levels ever recorded. The economy is in shambles. Security is worsening – just a few weeks ago, Boko Haram kidnaped over 100 of our sisters and daughters in Dapchi. Herdsmen and Farmer conflicts are intensifying.
It is clear to me that the challenge Nigeria now faces, and in truth has suffered for some time – is a crisis in leadership. We lack leaders with the political will to do what is right. We have leaders that are beholden to the interests that sponsor their elections. We have leaders that bend the knee at the altar of corruption.
It is to these more significant issues that I have chosen to focus my attention. Good leadership requires training and empowering others to carry on when you are not present. Sahara Reporters will soldier on when I become President – and I can assure you that the platform will hold my feet to the fire as well.
POSTERITY MEDIA: Aside Sahara Reporters, what else do you consider as part of your life’s major achievements so far?
SOWORE: I am apparently proud of the fact that starting with nothing but a clear vision, I have been able to grow Sahara Reporters into a globally-acclaimed brand that has pioneered a unique style of citizen journalism.
However, my last 12 years as the Founder and CEO is merely the latest chapter in a journey down the challenging and difficult path of activism that began almost 30 years ago at the University of Lagos.
I have been an integral part of every major struggle for the advancement of the Nigerian people. Whether this was the fight against Babangida’s structural adjustment program or the principled fight against military dictatorship.
As a Students’ Union President at the University of Lagos from 1992-1994, I was one of the leading personalities in the national student and youth movement against military rule. Fate placed me in the role of the leader of what was then perhaps the most nationally-prominent student movement in Nigeria. This period also happened to overlap with the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections. With the ranks of the labor and civil rights groups decimated through arrest, detention, and assassinations of prominent leaders, most of the surviving leaders retreated into exile, and the task of fighting the Babangida – Abacha junta fell to Nigeria’s students and youth.
I am proud of the leadership role that I played during this period. Our actions contributed to the fall of the Babangida, Shonekan and Abacha regimes which ultimately led to the restoration of democratic rule in 1999.
Prior to Sahara Reporters, in the 1999-2006 period, I was very active in pushing the brand of citizen and activist journalism that characterized what Sahara Reporters now does today.
The last 30 years of my life has been spent in service to my country. I’m extremely proud of that track record.
POSTERITY MEDIA: Interesting. Why do you believe you deserve to replace President Buhari and be elected into office by Nigerians in 2019?
SOWORE: There are three reasons why. Firstly, I understand Nigeria and I have worked tirelessly for our nation’s progress. For the last thirty years, I have been an activist that has worked to build alliances across Nigeria – across all religious and ethnic groups – with one aim in mind, which is to move Nigeria forward, to protect the welfare of its great people and to help to unleash the immense creativity and capabilities of the Nigerian people. I have been tried and tested. My resume in this regard bears no dispute. Many Nigerians already know my story. My body bears the scars of arrest, detention and torture over the years. My work at Sahara Reporters has helped to safeguard our democracy and amplified voices that were hitherto unheard.
Secondly, I have the leadership skills and the political will needed to move this nation forward. I have no godfathers. No godmothers. There are no sacred cows, snakes, monkeys or goats. In 30 years of service to this Nation through principled activism, I have established a track record as a straight shooter and truth teller that operates strictly based on principles.
When our constitutional order was in jeopardy – I worked to ensure that the legitimate transfer of power to Goodluck Jonathan occurred. Our work in 2015 to shine a light on the electoral process through real-time electoral results reporting helped the opposition led by Buhari to win. Between 2010 and 2011, some said I was working for Jonathan. In 2015, the same people said I was working for Buhari. What they all missed was that I work only for the Nigerian people using my conscience as a GPS- no matter whose feet are stepped upon, and regardless of whose ox is gored, I have been an equal opportunity offender.
Nigerians can trust me to do what I say. I follow through on what I start and I follow my conscience at all times.
In part, what has motivated my decision to run at this time was the complete capitulation and collapse of Buhari to corruption and corrupt influences, his lack of direction and motivation to do what is right at all times. The corruption of his cabinet, the principal officers of the party he leads and civil service that he heads stinks to the high heavens.
We cannot continue to rely on borrowed voices and borrowed hands in our fight to reclaim our country.
Thirdly, I am a proven manager of people and resources. In 12 short years, I have worked to build a globally-acclaimed media platform whose influence stretches across the African continent and the world.
I am not just an activist. I am an entrepreneur and a teacher as well; I hate to reveal this part of me, it sounds self-serving. What has Buhari ever managed? In all of the prior declarations that the President made, the only commercial enterprise he has claimed is having cows – and for the last 12 years, those cows have been constant at about 150. If that is true – then he must be one of the world’s worst cattle rearers. No gain, no loss – complete stand still! It probably explains why the president is satisfied with running a nation where no progress is being recorded in any sector.