Omoyele Sowore, the Tsunami of Take it Back Movement was in South Africa. He had arrived at the National Art theatre. We arrived from the University of Pretoria. A lot of tension, heated arguments had flown back and forth.
There were those of us who were attending, hopeful to see if he also wanted to share campaign money. Those of us who just wanted to go hear him out. And some of us were just missing Naija and hoped to catch a whiff of Naija air before sending the chariot back on its way.
We just wanted to hear him say his bit and decide what the way forward would be for us as Nigerians in diaspora. A lot of us still feel disenfranchised by the incapacity of the INEC to make diaspora vote.
I mean, what would it take exactly? Maybe electronic voting? Yes, people are scared of hackers but is this enough reason to leave out a huge section of those contributing to the nation’s financial stream? According to Sowore, a large proportion of Nigeria’s annual income comes from those in the diaspora. His reminder was timely; we really needed to hear this as more Nigerians seem to think that talking to diaspora Nigerians is of no consequence.
Despite evidence that Sowore has travelled the length and breadth of Nigeria with about 5 states in the North-west alone, the argument remains. He is not reaching the grassroots enough. He needs to touch the localities. He cannot be wasting time hosting town hall meetings with “deserters” who are sitting in the comfort of luxury art theatres in faraway Pretoria.
The culture of segregation is a national identity, we don’t think diaspora Nigerians have a role to play. Until Nigerians recognise the relevance of the smallest Nigerian human cell, we might just not be ready for the revolution Sowore is all about.
We arrived at the Pretoria State Theatre in our 18-seater bus, we were early. The team had also arrived before the event was meant to kick-off. We had also factored in Nigerian time and truly, things dragged at first. The hall filled in trickles, some of us sitting at the edges close to the exit in case the talk got too long and boring.
This move was to be our undoing. The discussions hurriedly rolled into a heated hustle to throw questions at the Presidential aspirant. Those at the edges could hardly get a chance to question Sowore.
We had listened to a rousing speech after all the ceremonial sessions and performance by young Nigerians. Worthy of note is the hip performances delivered by young Nigerian artistes hustling in South Africa. From the comedian, MC, singers to the crowd, the hall was charged with expectations.
Omoyele Sowore is frighteningly soft-spoken and articulate. He hardly made reference to any prepared manifesto as one would expect but took us down memory lane as has been his defining style at his town hall meetings. He touched on a lot of sensitive issues including denouncing any form of coalition.
It was also at the South Africa Town Hall meeting that he had first announced his intention to overhaul the whole Nigerian constitution. A speaker in the audience had remarked that his good intentions for Nigeria were just that, intentions, if the constitution remains: backward, colonised and impracticable as a representative documentation of the Nigerian identity.
In response, Sowore had announced that the only solution would be a total overhaul as opposed to an amendment for the emergence of a true and new Nigerian constitution.
Honestly, at this declaration, some of us half expected security forces from Aso Rock to swoop in and round us all up. Nigerians are coming to a realisation that the sovereignty of our nation rests heavily on a document; sets of rules and codes that protect the interests of a select few at the detriment of the many.
Now Omoyele Sowore has announced his candidacy under the umbrella of the African Action Congress. Nigerians cannot blame the results of 2019 on the dearth of options.
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