I was preparing to contest the position of the Student Union President many years back when I approached a man who on sighting the marks on my face asked whether I was from Kogi or Urhobo – in the side of Delta. My response however denied me the helping hand he had wanted to render. You are an Apoi man? I affirmed. Do you know that stupid boy by the name Sowore? As I was struggling to explain that I know the family but not the one that led the UNILAG Union; he calmly asked me to leave his office because he did not want to have anything to do with anyone who will scatter the school in the name of Student Unionism.
True, I am an Apoi man but not a fisherman like Omoyele Sowore, the Presidential Candidate of the African Action Congress. We might have taken the same path of early life as Student Union Presidents but never will I compare my ideological stance with his. Sowore to me is too radical; and I consider him too confrontational. But despite this, his courage remains an envy of many strong men.
This courageous attribute, (people told me) he got from his late Dad. His father Omoremilekun Sowore was known in our tribe as courageous soul who loved education and combined teaching with fishing and carving. The late Sowore carved the boat that fetched the people of his Local Council the first position during the Festival of Art and Culture held in Lagos in 1977. And since the man died, Omoyele has been giving scholarship to indigent students in my area as a way of keeping the memory of his father alive.
Beyond all these, Omoremilekun Sowore planted something in his children that many of us must learn from as we enter the elections proper.
I must quickly point out here however, that Omoyele Sowore and President Mohammadu Buhari have something in common despite the difference in age and ideology. They share a similarity in FOLLOWERSHIP. Their followers seem to have the same spirit of extreme passion for their party and willingness to die for the man flying its flag. My friend and leader Charles Ideho had repeatedly cautioned some Buharists never to see everyone who criticises their Leader as an enemy, but never; the Buharideens would rather throw a stone in Idumota market, if they suspect any of the ‘wailers’ does business there. In the same vein, just try to criticise Sowore on the social media; you will be forced out of the social space by the people who will want to practically lynch you. A particular example is when I said on T.V that the fact that Sowore is from my place is not enough reason to vote for him. One of the supporters called me many unprintable names including ‘a fool’.
I know many political followers can do just anything to protect the interest of their Leaders, even if it means fighting relatives and turning backs on their siblings; but the Sowores are seemingly taught by their father never to go that route of family hate. He will not condemn his brothers for criticising him or severe relations with his siblings for having different political ideology. Call that a plus or a minus – whatever! But it remains something to learn from in this era when partisan politics has succeeded in dividing us more than Democratic Democracy has been able to unite us.
The question now is – Will our political players ever learn from the Sowore wisdom? Will you as a party man be wise enough to know the elections will soon be over and behave wisely? Omoyele Sowore is a tough guy in more than one way; still, he accommodates his brothers who are not in the same political party with him. The Sowores, like some other nuclear families in Nigeria do not all belong to the same party, yet there has not been any reason for them to call themselves names or fight dirty over partisan politics.
The eldest Sowore, Omoyele is today the Presidential Candidate of the AAC, a party that seemingly shares radical ideology with the South African Economic Freedom Fighter, headed by the ‘troublesome’ Julius Malema. But despite the radicalism of the AAC leader, he remains receptive of his brothers who belong to other political parties.
Omoyele’s younger brother Akin is of the PDP extraction. He is not just a card carrying member of the party but a stakeholder and leader in every right. The young Lawyer has led the Ese Odo Local Government Area as Chairman and contributed greatly to whatever impact the PDP had in the Sunshine State.
I always wonder whenever Akin speaks of his desire to see Alhaji Atiku Abubakar win the Presidential election. Long before Atiku won at the PDP Portharcourt primary, Akin had told a Television Station in Lagos that his support for Atiku was incontrovertible.
I once asked him if he thought his brother was not qualified. Far from it! He knows his brother has the capacity to rule the most populous black nation in the world but there is an unwritten code in their family that gives freedom to anyone that is above the age of 18 to choose any political party of his or her choice without having to be influenced or criticised by any. Akin Sowore said –
‘In our family, we have come to the maturity that is established that anybody who has attained the age of eighteen can go out doing his political will, and this we have been exhibiting over the years. And right away you can see that I am of the PDP extraction, I equally have a brother who is of the same father who is currently in APC. And my brother who is our eldest brother is equally from the AAC. We have this believe right from time that anybody can choose any political party he likes. We have been doing this over the years and there has not been any issue in the family. When we come together we still relate as brothers. So everybody has his own freedom.’
In a way typical of Nigerian political behaviour, I had thought this would create a huge gulf in the family until I reached out to some of my contacts in Kiribo, the home town of the Sowores. To my surprise, confirmations were made, and what Akin told me sometimes ago became so relevant. Their family sure has a lot to teach Nigerians. He said –
‘We have a lot of experiences to share with Nigerians. In our family we are role models when it comes to political activism, participation and involvement. I am a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party. We are doing very well and at this time we are taking over the country through Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, our campaign has been very smooth and we are gaining momentum.’
From what Akin said, it is not just about him and his brother Omoyele. One of them is equally of the APC family.
One can be tempted to believe that the youngest of the politically exposed Sowores is a mere card carrying member of the APC, but it is far from it. Allen Sowore is a chieftain of the party. His high involvement in bringing APC on board in Nigeria and Ondo their home State, (despite working at that time in the State Civil Service under a PDP regime) was later recognised by the sitting Governor of the state. Some one year and six months ago, Allen Sowore was appointed a Special Assistant to the governor on New Media – a position he has been using to project the APC government in the state in positive light, not neglecting President Buhari, a man whose job his elder brother seeks.
Today if the elections are held, no matter where the political pendulum swings; at least one of the three brilliant Sowores would be in government. If it goes in favour of the AAC; the eldest Sowore will be running the nation as the number one citizen. If the People’s Democratic Party wins; Akin, his younger brother will get a plum appointment in the Federal structure, as an undeniable stakeholder. And if the battle favours the All Progressives Congress, Allen will continue to be at the forefront of polishing the image of his party on the social media.
By then I hope you would not have killed all your family members and friends because they do not share the same ideology with you. Indeed, the Sowores are as wise as the gods.
GET MOTIVATED TO DO THE RIGHT THING.