By Bayo Oluwasanmi
When Omoyele Sowore, Publisher SaharaReporters, announced he was running for president, some skeptics and critics dismissed the news as the folly of youth. Some even suggested that he should run as a councilor or at best as a senator as if the presidents before him and the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari are better equipped for the office than a councilor or a senator.
Since his debut as presidential aspirant, Sowore had ignited the Nigerian politics known for bereft of ideas with fearless ideas. Sowore is not a stranger to controversy and he’s never been scared or deterred standing alone against the tide of popular opinion. As President of Students Union of University of Lagos, he waged a one-man war against campus student cultists. He won. The now famous and influential SaharaReporters online newspaper was started by Sowore with one staff (himself) and one laptop.
Driven by fearless ideas, he said the way he disrupted the media space through his online SaharaReporters he’ll disrupt the Nigerian political space. For the first in our political history, we’re riveted by live broadcasts of his interactive town hall meetings abroad and at home. This has never been done by any Nigerian running for president. Within the short period of five months, he had crisscrossed mostly by road 29 out of the 36 states of the federation with live viewing to millions all over the world as he trudges along the unfriendly and dangerous terrains of Nigerian roads. Again, no Nigerian politician ever undertook such campaign novelty.
Sowore has gone where Nigerian politicians fear to tread. He’s met with the often ignored Nigeria’s large constituents: the poor, the disenfranchised, the excluded, the forgotten, the abandoned, the neglect, and the underrepresented. Initially, Sowore was written off as “slacktivist.” But he has redefined the boundaries of political creativity, innovation, and audacity. Sowore has proved his critics wrong and he’s determined and passionate to free Nigerians from what activist David Hogg calls “the safety of inaction.”
His recent opinion on legalizing marijuana as both cash weed for revenue and medical use has gone viral. Sowore is driven by fearless ideas because what guaranteed success or failure in the past can no longer be taken as an assurance of a similar outcome in the future. To him, you’re either a revolutionary or not because change is coming faster than the critics and apostles of too young to run think. To ignore the truth that Nigeria is a failed nation is doing so at our own peril. Nigeria is at a cross road. Nigeria is busting at the seams. Nigeria is dying. Nigeria is in the middle of existential crisis. Our best minds are being poached. By daring to be different, to be driven by fearless ideas, Sowore is challenging and demanding for a different generation of leaders that will create a new country we all can be proud of.
Innovation and creativity has long been drawn on movements, inspiration and energy of fearless ideas of the young. For 58 years Nigeria has been crippled by leadership paralyzed by fear of failure and from a fundamental lack of knowing what to do. It is instructive to remind the doubting Thomases that idealism and action are not mutually exclusive. We must recognize that political practices and cultures of the past should not and cannot provide a road map for our future. Far from being a threat to our politics, the forces of creative destruction – fearless ideas – could in fact be Nigeria’s salvation. We should not see Sowore’s fearless ideas as inter-generational warfare. The future of creative and innovative leadership is about having the humility to respect and recognize the experiences and views of others, and not retreat into fear or defensiveness. Sowore’s fearless ideas is his creative strength rooted in truth and openness that should inspire us all.
Being a fearless leader is a key characteristic of changing and shaping a nation. Great leaders consider intended and unintended consequences, but not to the point of being paralyzed. Being fearless means taking some risks – not foolish ones, but ones which stretch you, and bend your mind under different challenges. For a new Nigeria where pursuit of happiness is possible in a peaceful, progressive, and prosperous climate, we want a courageous and fearless leader to lead us in 2019. I might add that fearless alone is not enough without the other traits: commitment, intelligence, and integrity is like a Lion without a heart.
A nation led by a leader with fear and constraint will ultimately crash the country. A president who exhibits fearlessness will inspire his cabinet and all other people in his administration to take some risks, think out of the box and create new ideas and approaches. Fear is a constrainer of innovation. A brave president is a president who has the courage to go against the norms, to change attitudes among citizens, and question the tide of opinion among key stakeholders, and in the society at large.
Fearless presidents know that they have to question and improve systems to secure a viable future. Behind every decision is insight. A president must have a vision for something different and better. He must take first fearless steps to implement his vision. Sowore seems to be saying “some men see things as they are and ask “why?” but he dreams things that never were and ask “why not?”
Sowore’s fearless ideas start with a spark that will lead to quiet revolution and innovation in all areas few can compete with. He’ll be a different president driven by fearless ideas… Let’s go there!