In the book, “The Last Arrow”, Edwin McManus tells a story of the Old Testament in 2 Kings 13:18 of King Jehoash’s encounter with the ailing prophet Elisha. The king was given a quiver of arrows and told to strike the ground. He did so three times and then stopped even though more arrows were left. Elisha chastised the king for not beating the arrows on the ground more times than he did and history recorded the dire results of his partial effort.
The Nigerian checkered political history is replete with the dire consequences of our partial effort in demanding good governance from our leaders. The reason why Nigeria has not risen to its full potential is that we leave the battle for good governance unfinished. Often, we also have an arrow in our hands, blaming God for our partial victories when it is we who gave up too soon.
We fought for June 12 but never pushed hard enough to save Chief MKO Abiola and chickened out with the death of Abacha; we fought for a return to democracy in 1999 but never held Obasanjo and the rouges in his administration accountable; we fought the cabals to hand over the reins of government to Goodluck Jonathan following the demise of Yaradua but we watched helplessly as the locust around him devoured the national wealth.
Fast-forward to 2014; Sowore and some of us fought and ensured that Jonathan was defeated in 2015. But when Buhari and his APC administration fell short of expectations, Sowore, like Prophet Elisha realized that Nigerians have left something on the table. He has, thus, chosen to keep striking the ground until there is no arrow let in his quiver. He is not a traitor but a freedom fighter that is increasingly becoming a source of hope for millions of Nigerians.
The traitor to Nigerian democracy is not Sowore but the government bureaucrats that are unwilling to pay minimum wage to workers. The traitor to Nigerian democracy is not Sowore but the government and incompetent security “chiefs” that cannot guarantee the security of lives and properties of Nigerians. The traitors are the Nigerian state governments that are still charging tuition fees in secondary schools and ridicules tuition fees in Universities. The traitors are the senators and members of the state and federal houses that pocket billons of Naira yearly, in the midst of abject poverty.
Sowore would have stayed back and enjoyed his life in New York. He could have simply continued to torment the corrupt political class from afar, but he has chosen a different cause – to live his life to the fullest. For Sowore, it’s all or nothing. He is saving nothing for the next life! Yes, his acceptance of his calling in life is costly. Yes, he is and will face great risks. Yet, Sowore fully understands that life is nothing wasted and nothing held back.
To all of us who long for more, but settle for less, and give up too soon, we need to drive an arrow into the ground and like Sowore declare, Never Settle! My clarion call to all Nigerians is that this is the time to stop hoarding our arrows. It is not too late to dust off our bow, take aim and shoot with all that is within us.
A couple of my brothers and sisters have been trying to make fun of me after Sowore’s detention by the DSS. My response to them is never to pity Sowore. Sowore is living his life to the fullest. He is pursuing his life’s deepest joys and greatest battles – with a full heart and an empty quiver. There may be no back-up plan, but for Sowore, everything is required, including his last arrow.
The bigger question for all of us is: what kind of future do we want as Nigerians? Do we want the kind of future that shows that we have faced our fears and fought some battles? Or the kind of life that is played safe, protecting incompetent and corrupt politicians that worship like us and speak our tongue?
Truth and bluntness of Sowore’s call to action, not the word “revolution”, make his message catching, compelling, and encouragingly dangerous. That’s why the cabal in Aso Rock is using fear to force us to hang back when we should be pushing forward.
As Nigerians, we must not allow fear from the cabal in the APC or the cabal in the PDP to steal the future of our children. Every day that we fight for good governance, better schools, economic empowerment and the security of lives and properties, we must make sure that we save nothing for the next life.
We must abandon our tribal thinking for us to rise together as one great nation.
Tribal thinking, though frightening, can be overcome by great political actors, which we don’t have right now in Nigeria. Atiku feeds tribalism and remains the face the opposition PDP only because of it.
But in Sowore, we have a political rebel who is the opposite of tribal. He is fighting for human justice but he has NEVER demonized any tribe. He announced malice toward none, charity for all. This is the kind of attitude that we need from all Nigerians today.
For my fellow Nigerians longing for the security of lives and properties, we're all in a battle that must be fought so that we can live the life we want for our kids and ourselves. Like Sowore, Nigerians must never allow fear to keep us grounded.
The moment we choose to play it safe, we've lost the game. Instead of running from our fears, we should lean into them, like Sowore, for on the other side of them is the future we long for.
Sowore is not a traitor, never has been. What Sowore is urging Nigerians to do is to find a way to re-stitch our fraying social fabric and rekindle our civic spirit. Advocates of good governance should, therefore, not give up on our demand for Sowore’s freedom, before we are worn out. This fight is our fight and we must give it our all.
#FreeSowore, Together, we can.
You can email Churchill at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi