Nation-building is the collective responsibility of every citizen. Unfortunately, some folks ignorantly believe that only those who occupy public offices are involved in nation-building and as such any far-reaching attempt by an individual or group of individuals to interrogate or query the performance of public office holders and hold them accountable to the people is curiously perceived and branded in some quarters as an act of political subversion and breach of public peace and for which such person or persons must be taken out of circulation.
The taxi driver who stops at the turn of the red traffic light even without anyone monitoring him or her is a patriot who is involved in nation-building in his or her little way just the same way a public office holder who goes about supervising contractors engaged in the building of public infrastructure for quality assurance.
Prior to the 2015 general elections that catapulted the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari to power, Nigeria as a nation was in dire need of dependable patriots who could confront and unseat the behemoth called Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Many personalities within and outside the rainbow party – APC brought their influence and voices onboard and the PDP that once prided itself as the largest party in Africa and in that euphoria boasted that it will remain in power for at least 60 years was humbled after the count of the ballots bringing to the fore once more the transient nature of political power.
No doubt, the 2015 presidential election was the mother of all political battles in the annals of our democratic history as it was the very first time an opposition political party upended the ruling party at the centre and for some of us it was a revolution that took place as the defeat of PDP was heralded by pockets of protests here and there by many stakeholders in the Nigerian project.
In all of this, one person that the PDP and its teeming and vibrant supporters across the six geopolitical zones have found quite difficult to forgive for its defeat in 2015 is Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters, who is today a prisoner of conscience under the same government he ferociously assisted to attain power at the centre.
The reasons are not far fetched. Omoyele Sowore through his revolutionary media platform Sahara Reporters was a torn in the flesh of the then ruling PDP as he provided the needed megaphone that constantly chronicled and exposed all the malfeasance, sleaze and the impunity that characterized the PDP government and in the process galvanized Nigerians to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and change we must have and that democratic change can be anything but PDP.
Omoyele Sowore was so committed in galvanizing Nigerians to wrestle political power from the PDP in 2015 and redefine governance going forward such that most PDP supporters erroneously concluded that he was a card-carrying member of the then opposition APC who was merely out to de-market the PDP and its presidential candidate but little did they know or perhaps deliberately refused to know that as a member of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, he has the constitutional responsibility to join like minds in exposing corruption and holding every government accountable in the overall interest of the people in deference to section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered).
Upon the inauguration of the current administration led by President Buhari, the same Omoyele Sowore as constitutionally expected of him continued to critique, engage and interrogate the administration on good governance and delivery on its campaign promises and most supporters of PDP (shut of asking him to shut up) are often quick to remind him of his prominent role in the ascension of the APC to power in 2015 and accordingly rebuked him for joining others in making President Buhari’s presidency a reality.
Unfortunately, a handful of APC supporters (who prior to the 2015 general elections celebrated him as a true patriot for putting the PDP administration on its toe in the run-up to the 2015 general elections) now condemn him and call for his continued detention for daring to sensitize the citizenry on the perceived failings of the ruling APC government which he courageously supported even at the risk of his life by reason of his massive deployment of Sahara Reporters media platform against the PDP as the then ruling party.
It is, therefore, not surprising that in the wake of his abduction and continued detention by the State Security Services (SSS), self-styled as Department of State Services (DSS) pursuant to the planned #RevolutionNow protest, some supporters of the PDP although are against repression of citizens’ right to freedom of speech and association, derisively and ubiquitously declare from time to time thus: “…it serves him right. No be him talk say Jonathan and PDP nor good enough and make Buhari and APC come on board. God don catch am. Make baba kuku keep am for prison for a long time. Him think say na Jonathan time him dey. Jonathan God no dey sleep.”
Most, unfortunately, the above derisive and ubiquitous refrain from a section of PDP’s supporters who understandably are still smarting from the 2015 shellacking has not in any way pricked the conscience of the ruling APC and compelled the leadership to appreciate the fact that Omoyele Sowore is not someone that this very government should subject to this regrettable and condemnable harassment and intimidation, more so when he has not committed any offence known to law.
The claim that having contested and lost the presidential election Omoyele Sowore has no right to call for any protest however styled and that the planned RevolutionNow protest without more was an attempt to seize political power through the back door is bunkum. It is needless to go into historical revisionism of protests that dogged the PDP administration and the key players in those protests.
His right to call for protest against any policy of the government is an inalienable one. In fact, calling for such protest is an essential part of nation-building on his part and should not to be criminalized. At the risk of sounding somewhat immodest, the revolution that took place in 2015 with the ouster of PDP from the seat of power in Abuja would not have materialized if not for the yeoman’s role of Omoyele Sowore through the instrumentality of Sahara Reporters.
The history of how the APC/President Buhari defeated the PDP/former President Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election cannot be written even by the worst critic of Omoyele Sowore without a chapter thereof dedicated to him for his revolutionary role in that regard.
Therefore, the continued detention of Omoyele Sowore as a prisoner of conscience is not in the best interest of the APC and President Buhari. If anything, his continued detention has cast a slur on the democratic credentials of President Buhari who is otherwise a beneficiary of the struggles to make Nigeria a better place for us all.
This is one negative tag Mr. President and his handlers must not allow to stick and should in the circumstance act quickly in order to save the face of a multitude of APC members and supporters who are thoroughly embarrassed by the abduction and continued detention of Omoyele Sowore by the DSS.
It is imperative that President Buhari hearkens to the growing call all over the world for the immediate and unconditional release of Omoyele Sowore and other prisoners of conscience without further delay.