Omoyele Sowore is not an unknown quantity. Like him, hate him, that would be up to you. What you could never do, is ignore the stormy petrel. I had watched him from a distance for long, and I had done so with a lot of angst, consternation, and downright indignation at times. But it is time to close the ranks. Closing the ranks is defined as meaning: “to unite forces, especially by overlooking petty differences, in order to deal with an adverse or challenging situation; to join together in a show of unity, especially to the public”
“Ai rin lo’wowo omo ejo, lo n’se iku pa won”. The failure to identify common interests and purposes behind which to unite, is the bane of the Nigerian progressive movement, and my pilgrimage to Abuja to speak with Yele, is part of an ongoing effort that is aimed at seeking common interests, behind which to unite the disparate groups and persons seeking a better Nigeria.
I am sure that you all have several reasons to disagree with Yele, and they are all probably very valid. Yele can be a very polarizing figure.
But Yele is courageous. Yele is single minded, and Yele is ultimately altruistic in his life’s pursuits.
Yele is not my enemy. Yele is not your enemy. Yele is one of us, warts and all. He is human, just like you, and me. You’re no saint! And neither am I. We are Nigerians. We are not “normal”. Yele is you, and me. If you would pocket your selective senses of personal outrage, you’d see that he is us, but infused with something severely lacking in this generation: the courage to dare, in a generation of cowards.
Yele believes in an indivisible Nigerian nation, that is built on law and equity. I do.
Yele believes in the equality of citizenship. I do.
Yele believes in the possibilities of a Nigerian nation. I do.
Yele’s language is violent. I dislike that.
Yele is impetuous and can often be extremely irrational in his actions. Yes! And I dislike that passionately.
The time has come to close the ranks. The Nigerian state is dying in the hands of this moribund system, and it is time for those who believes that the Nigerian nation is possible, to stand up, and be counted.
It would be tempting to blame the imminent collapse of the state on the Buhari regime, but that would be intellectually fraudulent. Buhari’s incompetence has definitely hastened the predictable demise of the unjust state, but that the inequitable system would collapse, was a tragedy foretold. The entire northern part of Nigeria is under the gun, and the Nigerian state is not the monopolist of violence. In vast swathes of this country, the Nigerian state has lost control. The Niger Delta has been hostage to lawlessness for several years, and is essentially the domain of warlords who operates with political lords. The peoples who call the Delta home, have lost the protection of the state, and thereby their voices.
The Nigerian state is dying, and it is time to forget our petty grievances and seek radical solutions to our hydra headed problems. The Nigerian state has failed to become a nation because it was designed by the Nigerian military, a band of mostly self serving, barely literate crooks, and was never designed to deliver value to the peoples trapped within the territory. The sole beneficiaries of the Nigerian state has been the feudal lords that are the different office holders in the land. It is why the parties in power are not tied to either ideologies and or principles, and it explains why they move across party lines at dizzying pace.
They have closed ranks. When shall we?
It is we, against them. There are only two classes of Nigerians: the operators of the Nigerian state, and their counterparts in the society at different levels. The church and the mosque are just as complicit in the preservation of the unjust system, as are the banks, and the businessmen. You, and me? We are also complicit. We legitimize our own sodomization by our silence in the face of rampant injustice, and thereby normalize madness.
Igi yi o da, e yo kuro ninu ina… if you remove every smoky wood from the barbecue, which wood would cook the meats you’re grilling? It is time to close the ranks.
The engagement with Yele was primarily to seek important clarifications regarding the minimum irreducible precondition for my involvement in any struggle: an unambiguous commitment to nonviolence as the ONLY way. Omoyele Sowore did not only give his word on this, he proceeded to educate me on his politics, and to also seek to dispel my initial reservations about his commitment to nonviolence. I elect to believe him, and to take him at his word.
Yele’s explanation of the August 5 Orange Revolution also showed me a part of the man, that I had only ever seen in Che “The Abuja Were” Oyinatumba. There is a method to his madness. But for Yele’s act of self immolation, we wouldn’t have been able to see the Buhari regime unmasked as fascist wannabes, Abacha redux. The Dasuki clampdown endured several court rulings ordering his release. The fascist regime explained it by telling stories of Dasuki’s depraved stealing. There were no protests for the media convicted thief.
The Nigerian state that serially rehabilitate and then release battle hardened terrorists, and is even known to have absorbed them into the army, clamped down on a Sowore that wasn’t anything more than an irritant to them. The Nigerian judiciary then proceeded to grant a 45 day detention order based on terrorism allegations and charges. You know the rest of the story, but a simple juxtaposition of the treatment of Mr. Sowore, the Boko haram terrorist, and perhaps, Mr. Ayodele Fayose’s corruption trial, would show you what the state considers criminal.
It is time to close the ranks. I have never been a mirror of any man, and I have no doubt that Yele is nobody’s clone either. I am happy to bet that the two of us shall have several arguments and disagreements in the coming days, weeks, and however long we might be engaged in the struggle together, but I am also certain that we have more that should bind us than could possibly divide us.
It is time to close the ranks.