Omoyele Sowore: A Hurricane Beyond The Ballots! By Kunle Wizeman Ajayi

It is forty-eight hours to the most unique general election in the history of Nigeria. The centre is weakest and things within the ruling class are drastically falling apart. The masses’ alternative in a revolutionary party is having its best shot.

To understand this election, I have decided to contact the rudest pages of history that have survived despite the big efforts of our rulers to kill off our sense of the past in understanding the future. Such flashback will, however, be centred on one shy but very brave actor, who has decided to grace the theatre of the oppressed with the most glittering values set as a tribune for us to know that it is time that we stopped being put between the two sides of the coin of political tragedy – the APC and the PDP.

While Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate, is proudly owning up to the real intentions of both big parties, Buhari and the APC continue with their rodent-styled way of biting the people hard, while also blowing coolness breeze and insulting our injury.

For Long, The Rain Has Been Beating Us

And their fake umbrellas has never stopped the hazards!

Since the General Babangida junta forced Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) on Nigeria in the mid-80s, the heavier rains have been falling with thunderstorms and man-made destructions. The welfarist state that has kept the country away from mass upheaval since Independence started counting its moments. Vicious anti-people policies that have turned the country to a place of war and mass hunger were being implemented.

The Abacha draconian regime enforced many of these policies, while retaining some nationalistic policies. These policies were a last blood of the military junta that has helped IMF and World Bank to economically undermine state welfarism in Nigeria. While trying to change cloth from khaki to agbada, the Abacha regime enforced was forced down by the masses through mass protests and other political actions. The onslaught was basically led by young activists, who led radical groups like the Campaign for Democracy (CD) and the United Action for Democracy (UAD).

Recall that Nigeria’s Independence was gotten through radical political actions that accumulated from the 1945-7 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) workers’ strikes to the women revolts in Egba, Aba, and Northern Nigeria led by the trio of Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Margaret Ekpo, and Gambo Sawaba. The Iva valley massacre in Enugu also became a national rallying point to reject the colonial rule, while students of Kings College who had led a revolt in 1946 became grown actors in the fight for independence. Yet, the new set of rulers in Azikwe, Ahmadu Bello, and Obafemi Awolowo were only moderate political leaders who were seen as not too radical for the imperialists who had planned to continue colonialism through internal agents.

Alas, the 1966 coup and the others that later led to the Biafran civil war helped to step up the disquiet, only from above, leaving the working people at the behest of looking for messiahs. 
All through to the second and third republic, repeated efforts were made to build a national party for the masses that would push alternative ideas and lead to the revolution we all desire. The closest efforts were the Labour Party attempted in reaction to SAP in 1989. Sadly, that Labour Party did not fly as the leaders were only interested in building a party for elections instead of a fighting one that should have thrown its weight behind the students-led anti-SAP protests that eventually chased Babangida out of government (forcing him to call for elections).

A few years after that attempt at building the Labour Party, Gani Fawehinmi led the creation of a masses party, the National Conscience Party (NCP). The party existed alongside other radical parties of the Left like the Democratic Alternative (DA) which had Omoyele Sowore as its first organizing secretary.

Having failed to pull a strong ballot power in 2003, the NCP began to wane. Though up until last year, several activists continued to build within the NCP, sustaining Gani’s legacies and building for power from below. Those efforts were finally frustrated by the NCP national chair and presidential candidate, Tanko Yinusa, who had aligned the party with the PDP, its political albatross. The Balarabe Musa’s Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) had, sadly, been speaking from two sides of the mouth.

Meanwhile, the Buhari/APC government which represents the combined forces of “moderate” conservatives masquerading as progressives had raised and implemented several attacks economically and politically against the working people. The Buhari/APC government has successfully implemented “naira devaluation”; “oil deregulation”; “privatization consolidation”, and the refusal to pay a new minimum wage.

Enter Sowore and the #Takeitback Movement

Several fighting activists have been leading struggles despite the fact that the Buhari/APC government has weakened the civil society and has turned the Trade Union leaders to loyal agents. January to March 2017 witnessed the upsurge of a new wave of activism that is to the Left but in a greener hemisphere. New methods and strategies of mobilizations, especially around the social media, stormed the airwaves. Many leading activist figures had bowed to the collaborationist agendas with either of the big ruling class parties. The ones who are not in open collaboration are either sabotaging viciously or helping to keep down the embers of struggle. This, however, never stop the emergence of radical groups amongst students and working peoples. The Alliance of Nigerian Students against Neo-liberal Attacks (ANSA) had emerged in 2016, while the United Action for Democracy (UAD) renewed methods of engagement and principles to take back Nigeria. While ANSA tackled Governors Ajimobi and Amosun of Oyo and Ogun in legendary mass actions over the underfunding of education, the UAD formed the Movement Against Austerity and Hardship (MAAH) as a temporal banner to intervene in the popular Tuface/Enough is Enough (EiE) nationwide protests with Omoyele Sowore and Charly Boy as “protest ambassadors”. The New Year risings turned the political tide against the 419 APC government.

Savaging the Stony Rubbish; Time to Take It Back

While many of the speakers had lamented the state of Nigeria at the National Theatre where we gathered during the Tuface/EiE protests on February 9, 2017, Omoyele Sowore posited that “only revolution” could save Nigeria. That short speech summarized the whole momentum. The need to build another country out of this stony rubbish became the bullet point to take it back.

What we will have on the presidential ballot tomorrow are majorly three parties that are but two.

The APC and the PDP represent the same beliefs and ideas of selling Nigeria to private pockets and keeping the country in perpetual poverty. Both parties are never running to the masses but to US and China. They never believe in the power of the masses to put their destinies into their own hands. The truth is that sales of NNPC and other few remaining assets are sure whether Buhari or Atiku emerges. That Atiku is using privatization to campaign is just an owning up to old cruel deeds, while the APC tries to sell some deceit as usual. Both parties are one and the same.

This piece will conclude that we the people have to treat both APC and PDP as same in order to understand them both. We then have the duty to shock our detractors by making sure we vote the alternative – the African Action Congress (AAC). The electoral statistics has shown that we can pull a surprise. The one-week postponement has brought more supporters to us. Our ideas became more meaningful to the working people and the dust is settling on the old order.

Whether Omoyele Sowore and the African Action Congress (AAC) pull a shock on Saturday or the ruling class parties perpetuate themselves through vote-buying and other rigging antics, the whole world has come to understand that a real alternative party has emerged. It is a hurricane that has damaged the ideological bases of the thieving parties and setting on a new dawn. The AAC have enormous work to do however. We are condemned to march on the people’s lane even if Saturday becomes a victory for either the APC or PDP. We need to understand that we speak the heart of the masses, and have the feelings of the oppressed. It is to us that the workers look on to for a living wage. Students also have a hope of free education at all levels, with our campaigns so far.

We need to vote and relentlessly canvass for our ideas beyond this ballot and be jeered on by Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour Party’s leader’s words after losing to the Tories’ Theresa May last time that: “We are the power in waiting!”


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