By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Why Nigeria has failed to create real democracy, wealth, and happiness for its 160 million citizens is one of the greatest puzzles of our generation. It will be dishonest and arrogant to claim to have easy solutions for these long running problems. However, some cultural structures serve as barriers that maintain these conditions.
Nigeria is a textbook example representing cultural stagnation. We keep on doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
Development continues to elude Nigeria because of accumulation of leadership failures combined with hubris, hypocrisy, and rampant corruption. It is not possible to transform Nigeria without doing what has never been done before in the country. Albert Einstein reminds us: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
One of our biggest obstacles in Nigeria is wrapped in our old demons: culture and religion. Nigerians employ primitive defense mechanisms by refusing to see the reality. The fight for the future of Nigeria requires a different mind-set, a different attitude, cultural shift, and rejection of opium of religion. It is sad to note that for 58 years Nigeria’s future never had enough voters – those interested in the past and for immediate gratification usually win out.
Last week, Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC) and some members of TakeItBack Movement paid a courtesy call on Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II at his palace in Ile-Ife. The Oba had kept Sowore and his team waiting for three hours. After three hours, the Oba decided to meet with Sowore. The rumpus at the palace went viral. Let me turn the story over to an eye-witness:
“I was at the event. We got there around 11:48 am with Omoyele Sowore billed to see Ooni by 12 pm. We waited patiently until 3 pm when the Ooni appeared . Sowore bowed instead of prostrating. When he was given the microphone to talk, Sowore said : “I am a cultured Yoruba man and I know that when you come to palace, you prostrate to greet the king. Kabiyesi, me and members of this movement are upset that you kept us waiting for three hours. Kabiyesi, you came to the USA for a program and you entered the venue at the time you were expected to be there. Does that mean you respect or value people that are over there? However, Kabiyesi, permit me to tender three prostrations, 1 for you Kabiyesi, 1 for the Chiefs, and the last one for the people of Ife.” As we prostrated, someone just released tear gas on us and we started coughing. After we were tear-gassed inside the palace and could not breathe, we left the hall to catch some fresh air only to be confronted by a bunch of thugs within the palace ground. They savagely beat us. The Ooni wanted to curse the person who did it, he said the person embarrassed him, that’s the first time such a thing is happening at the palace. Then, the Ooni apologized to us for being tear-gassed and attacked by thugs. That’s what transpired.”
Sowore is too intelligent to be stupid or naive. He knew he was before Ooni. He knew he dare not disrespect or rude to Ooni. He knew he cannot insult or disparage Ooni. As a Yoruba man, he’s aware of the reserved awe Yorubas have for Obas.
But the self-appointed custodians of our culture, the armchair critics, and bedroom Napoleons twisted the story to agree with their resentment against Sowore and the TakeItBack Movement. They didn’t see anything wrong that Sowore and his team were tear-gassed and “savagely” beaten by thugs. They were only concerned about culture. To them, culture is supreme and precious than the life of Sowore and his group.
These defenders of the ancient, believe culture must be respected and protected at the expense of human life. They lied that Sowore failed to prostrate, that he was rude, arrogant, brash, not fit to be president, that his candidacy is dead on arrival, that he should exit from the race, and he should wait till 2027. They literally called for Sowore’s head saying he had committed political as well as cultural hara-kiri that’s beyond pardon. And many unintelligible juvenile aspersions were cast on Sowore.
We know Nigerian politics is barbaric, primitive, violent, and bloody. We know Sowore had ignited the fury of Old Brigade of Thieves and reactionary elements who are the benefactors of the moribund and punitive status quo. Of course it is saying the obvious that they feel threatened by TakeItBack Movement. They are scared. They are confused. They are intimidated. Because no one – until now – ever summoned the courage to puncture and deflate these saboteurs and enemies of our people and cut them to size. Sure, the attack was deliberate and directed at Sowore. Thank God, no one was injured.
Yes, culture should be honored not at the expense of people’s life. People should not be slaves to culture. Culture is for people and not people for culture. They should be able to see the bigger picture of Sowore’s vision for Nigeria: a peaceful, progressive, and prosperous nation where no one is oppressed. Sowore as president is committed to outlaw what Leonard Peikoff calls “the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of the sacrificial victim for the ‘sin’ of creating values.”
How many of you that have declared Sowore unfit for president have the guts, the sagacity, the antecedents of political and social activism of Sowore? How many of you possess the ruggedness, tenacity, and doggedness of Sowore? How many of you can boast of Sowore’s brilliance, eloquence, dazzling exuberance, strength, energy, stamina, his fighting spirit, passion, and patriotism? How many of you can risk everything for nothing like Sowore is doing right now? How many of you? I dare you, speak!
How many of you can openly accuse and confront your oppressors and other profiteers of the status quo? If it was so easy many of you would have jumped into the political fray of the unpredictable political land mines of Nigeria. How many of you can go so far like Sowore? I challenge you, come out and join the race and see how easy it is.
Many of you attacking and ridiculing Sowore have not done anything worthwhile or significant in your life. Many of you have nothing to show other than to discourage and discredit Sowore who braved all odds in fighting the whales and hyenas. It is easy to point accusing fingers at Sowore. It is easy to write Sowore off. It is easy to make mockery of what he’s trying to do. It is easy to deride Sowore. What can you do? What have you done to gight on behalf of dispossessed Nigerians? I dare you, let’s hear your defense. I have one word for these armchair and bedroom Napoleons: Go to hell!
President Jerry Rawlings was right when he told Sowore that “Nigerians are still in love with their oppressors.” Indeed, many of you are still infatuated with your tormentors: the Buharis, the Bukola Mesujamba Sarakis, the Atikus, the IBBs, the David Marks of the world and other despicable personalities of Nigerian politics.
If you like vote Sowore. If you like vote for your native tyrants that will unleash untold hardship, poverty, insecurity, fear, violence, and unspeakable atrocities on you for the next four years. Give your votes to the ones that have turned your young men armed robbers and your young women prostitutes. Give your vote to the destroyers of Nigeria. Elections have consequences and I bet you, you’ll pay dearly for it. After all, Sowore has nothing to loose but everything to gain.
As we inch toward 2019, our souls will be tried. Our patience will be exhausted. Our sensibilities will be attacked. Our mission will face tremendous opposition. We expect that. We’re prepared for the worst but hope for the best. We’re not deterred. We’re not scared. We’re not intimidated. We’re here to stay and slug it out and win.
I say bring it on… and let’s go there!