Comrade Omoyele Sowore spent the New Year holiday weekend in the Buhari gulag in Abuja for no justifiable reason. At wee hours of the night of December 31st last year during a crossover protest event to usher in the new year in Abuja Sowore and four other militants were brutalized and arrested for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 safety rules. The dusk event was aimed at drawing attention to the maladministration and oppression and injustice Nigerians are daily subjected to by Buharism and its enablers.
But before the procession could terminate police authorities swooped on the demonstrators shooting sporadically into the air and manhandling and arresting some (including Sowore) and dispersing others brutally. The charismatic SaharaReporters publisher was aggressed and wounded as punches were thrown his way. He was taken into a police station in Abuja with a wounded leg and a bloody nose!
Comrade Sowore is a notable social critic and crusader of human rights. This position of his had in the past led to breaches of his fundamental human rights, arbitrary detention, torture and intimidation. But despite these calculated attempts to silence or cage him or kill the spirit of the struggle for a better society the former student union leader has soldiered on refusing all entreaties to call a spade by another name.
On the eve of a new year 2021, one replacing a particularly vicious preceding one, 2020, Nigerians were made to suffer more with a creeping dictatorial space sparing nothing to deter dissent and freedom of expression and association. The Buhari regime has done everything possible to stifle civilised discourse.
While it is universally recognised that the regime has failed to improve the living condition of Nigerians the supposedly democratic administration has bared its fangs trying to cover up its failures with propaganda, repression and intolerance of the opposition. A regime that has failed woefully to protect lives and properties of the people excels only in brutality and excuses.
Sowore was reported to have embarked on a hunger strike following the refusal of his oppressors to allow books brought along with food to be delivered to him. "I cannot feed my stomach when I haven't fed my brain" he was quoted to have said. Of course the executive SaharaReporter was right -- the brain is more important than the stomach. The Good Book tells us that man cannot live by bread alone.
It was not the first time Comrade Sowore had been brutalized by dictators and so-called democrats in different epochs. All his adulthood (starting from his student unionism at UNILAG in Lagos) he had been a victim of state terrorism and oppression. But he has managed to remain unbroken and unbowed!
Nigeria is presenty at crossroads. And heroes and villains are being made out of a terrible situation. With escalating wave of insecurity sweeping across the federation we have reached a dangerous point where notable patriots and critics are daily asking who really is in charge of our miserable national life -- if anyone at all.
The ship of state is drifting dangerously and a massive shipwreck taking down millions is more than plausible. To deal with this societal degeneration all hands ought to be on deck. But our sadistic leaders still believe in the politics of oppression and state terrorism.
There is nothing criminal in a peaceful organization of a candlelight crossover procession towards a new year. No peace was disturbed and no damage to any property was reported anywhere. So proceeding to use brutal tactics to put same down amounted to admission of regression towards fascism.
Ever since his second 'democratic' coming to the national stage (after truncating a democratic order in the early 80's) President Muhammadu Buhari reminds us of his past crude and rude methods, something incompatible with a democratic culture and global best practices.
Just like Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) in Museveni's Uganda Comrade Sowore is up against the entrenched corrupt incompetent elite underdeveloping a new generation in search of hope and a better future. Yet this determination, it must be acknowledged, to bring about change to a gerontocratic culture has come with a heavy price and enormous sacrifice.
Bloodied and battered on the last night of a disastrous outgone 2020 Comrade Sowore would definitely continue to be relevant to the politics Nigeriana. He would continue to lead the restless youths in the struggle for a new Nigeria that works for her citizens.
The nepotistic underwhelming Buhari administration must give us a break this new year! The crossover Abuja bloody incident was indicative of the fact that we are still under the grip of an authoritarianism packaged as a democracy. We cannot rest, therefore, until the unadulterated enthronement of democracy in our nation becomes a fait accompli.
We join our voices in demanding the immediate release of Comrade Omoyele Sowore and four other activists detained illegally.