By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Time changes everything. We’re in a politically turbulent age. Young leaders around the world are disrupting the old order. So, where will the political earth shake next? The answer could be – indeed, should be – Nigeria. The world’s youngest leaders hail from across the globe. Nigeria and of course Africa, take a back stage as no current leader in the continent is below age of 40.
Consider: Emmanuel Macron 39, became France’s youngest ever President in May 2017. Volodymyr Grosysman, 39 is Ukraine’s youngest ever Prime Minister elected by parliament in April 2016. Juri Ratas, 38, became Prime Minister of Estonia in November 2016. Macedonian Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev, 38, took power in January 2016. Sebastian Kurz, 31, became the world’s youngest national leader when he was elected Prime Minister of Austria in October 2017.
The campaign is under way to unseat President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking re-election after three wretched years. Nigerians are angrier than ever. The Presidency and the National Assembly are at stand still. Nothing is working. Nothing works. The country is hopelessly divided. The country is at war with itself. The country is in flames. The president and the law makers have given up all pretense of being more than spectators. The two parties have lost their bearings. No intelligible boundaries. No enforceable civilized norms. I could continue, but you get the gist.
To dislodge the establishment political parties, a new movement became necessary. Therein lies Omoyele Sowore’s movement – Take It Back Movement. The movement with other new parties will form a coalition that would restore public services, create jobs and enabling environment for businesses, build infrastructure, provide power, revolutionize our education and health sectors. Already the APC is locked in internal battle that may ultimately tear it apart. In PDP, rebellions are erupting every second. Now is the time for the Take It Back Movement with other progressives to capitalize on the division, disarray, and distrust in the establishment parties. In the next few months, the opportunity to create such a party will present itself.
Omoyele Sowore – the new force – behind Take It Back Movement is ready to follow in the 39-year old Macron’s footsteps, making history by casting aside the old oligarchy of thieves. I have been following Sowore’s town hall meetings both abroad and in Nigeria. His message is anchored on change not from the top, but from mobilizing the youths. Sowore’s passion and excitement are contagious. Sowore, though unbeknownst to him, is following the script of a style of organizing devised by Saul Alinsky, the radical University of Chicago-trained social scientist. At the heart of Alinsky method is the concept of “agitation” making someone angry enough about the rotten state of his life that he agrees to take action to change it.” Or as Alinsky himself described it, to “rub raw the sores of discontent.”
Looking at Sowore’s history of activism, he’s a natural, undisputed master of agitation – a distrupter – as he often tells his audience. Watching his town hall meetings, Sowore would engage in a room full of discontented targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to the civilized standards. Aggressive, combative, and confrontational with the cabals whose manufactured poverty disabled, as it were, the lives of Nigerian youths, Sowore would remind them the political hara-kiri committed by the cabals against the youths. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain inflicted on them by the cabals just enough before dangling carrot of hope that they could make things better by taking back Nigeria from the oligarchy of thieves.
When asked for his manifesto, Sowore would make a pitch for common-sense, practical, non-ideological solutions. Sowore is a fresh face who is a generation removed from the political ideology of looting and plundering by octogenarian robbers, loafers, and spectator leadership. He would pry into the world of angry and dispossessed Nigerian youths and rallies them around his consensus-mind branded of politics of Take Nigeria Back.
Sowore at town hall meetings and campaign stops, as if reading from Gregory Galluzo’s manual for training organizers, would emphasize, repeat, and emphasize to the energized youths, Galluzo’s statement that “We are not virtuous by not wanting power,” because “power is good” and “powerlessness is evil.” Our history shows no forward movement but switches back every so often from bad to worse, and from hope to hopelessness. Poverty, unemployment, corruption, and lack of basic amenities are the battles that we continually revisit and re-stage.
As we approach 2019, Nigerians especially the youths, must critically evaluate the type of people that run for the presidency. As we have witnessed, the Moses generation in Nigeria dwindles in number each year, and soon it will belong to memory. But for now, we have a Moses – Sowore – let’s unite behind him and take Nigeria back… Let’s go there!