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DEBUNKING THE MYTHS ABOUT OMOYELE SOWORE

 

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS ABOUT OMOYELE SOWORE

 

I write this piece to correct some popular fallacies about Omoyele Sowore. For some of you that may not know him, Sowore is a presidential aspirant who ran for the AAC political party in the recently concluded 2019 Nigerian General Elections. Many of you know that I have always held a neutral stance on Nigerian politics due to its particularly messy nature, but Sowore’s campaign stood out enough to gain my attention and support, mainly due to his Personal History, his utter fearlessness at speaking the truth, his wildly ambitious ideas and the fact that his campaign was completely crowdfunded – a feat unheard of in Nigerian politics.

As evidenced by the election results, many Nigerians did not share my enthusiasm, however the point of this post is not to win you over or castigate your decisions (or indecisions), but rather to correct some erroneous notions being peddled about the candidate. As is custom with politics, smear campaigns usually trail the character of every popular candidate pre and post-election. Announcing candidature for such a prestigious public office as the presidency will most likely get you attacked by rivals and the insecure. Especially in the context of the social media age, where people spread fantastic and unlikely stories online for clout and monetary gain. The point of this post is to sieve through all the propaganda and present the facts about Sowore. This write-up is for the inquisitive and those getting acquainted with the Nigerian political landscape.

First off, I would like to say that most of the criticism I have heard about Sowore has seemed purely subjective. When asked, people tend to cite his proud manner, saying it borders on arrogance rather than confidence, or his aggressiveness during arguments. Sometimes it’s his hairstyle or conservative style of clothing which are all products of his Personal Beliefs or previous histories of oppression by the military for his activism, which tend to change a person’s outlook on life. Secondly, I am quite aware that I could be wrong in my assumptions as it does require a certain hunger for power to aspire for the presidency anyway. I will try to be as objective as possible.

 

1. SOWORE IS A WEED SMOKER

sowore images

I had to start with the most entertaining of the presumptions. Funny as this sounds, the allegation that Sowore smokes weed (Cannabis/Marijuana) trailed his campaign the most; especially among the youths. Some claimed that he was so enamoured with the drug that his sole purpose for contesting was to get it legalized. Even though he had personally denied the claims on numerous interviews.

The major reasons for this allegation against him were twofold:
First, Sowore had envisioned the rising demand for Marijuana especially considering its recent legalization in developed countries such as Canada and parts of the USA. Therefore, he included sales of the controversial drug for foreign exchange as part of his campaign promises. Unfortunately for him, the morality of his ambitions became questionable to Nigeria’s highly religious and suspicious citizens. Although currently, the exportation of Marijuana is being considered by the Ondo state government Exportation of the drug has however been accepted by countries like Uganda and promises high revenue streams for the nation.

Secondly, Sowore has always been vocal about his respect for Nigerian Afrobeat Legend, Fela Kuti. Fela was known for his revolutionary music that addressed themes of political oppression, military suppression and cultural identity in Nigeria. Unfortunately, Fela was also an ardent and outspoken weed smoker, a fact which many Nigerians felt was Sowore’s main regard for the late superstar. It should be said that Fela’s sons, Femi and Seun Kuti, openly endorsed Sowore as their candidate for the 2019 elections.

 

2. AMAECHI USED THE AAC TO CAUSE HAVOC IN THE RIVERS STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTIONS

One of the more character damaging accusations, Sowore has been accused by the public of conniving with Former Rivers state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi to disrupt activities during the just concluded elections. The story goes that Amaechi wanted control of the state over his rival, now Gov. Nyesom Wike, but since his party, the APC, was not eligible for the elections, he enlisted the AAC Governorship candidate as his protégé and directed military powers to the state to ensure victory.

Not only is there the lack of evidence to corroborate this story, both Sowore and the AAC released statements denouncing any alliance with the APC once Amaechi declared his support for their candidate. These announcements went wholly ignored however, and the narrative continued. I also found it particularly concerning that Sowore and his party bore the brunt of the blame for the Violence that occurred, but Amaechi and the APC who were presumed to have orchestrated these acts are not questioned. Why blame Sowore and not the actual causes?

I have a theory that Nigerians have grown wary of trusting politicians, due to being failed so much in the past, that they are constantly on the lookout for signs of disappointment. It was a recurrent theme during the elections to hear quotes like “The Devil you know is better than the Angel you don’t know.” Or “We don’t need a saint to rule us.” Or “Anybody can talk big and get away with it, just look at Oshiomole.” Secondly, I imagine people felt safer attacking Sowore for their problems because there would be no fear of reprisal. He seemed the best conduit to channel frustrations to, given his controversial stances and lack of military might.

 

3. THE THIRD FORCE SAGA

Very often the question is brought up, “Why won’t Sowore join hands with other young candidates?” and yet he is also touted as a “Third Force Candidate”. Well, there is a reason for both. First of all, Sowore long denied being a part of the Third Force. And on the subject of Coalitions, he never joined one either.

The story of the PACT (Presidential Aspirants Coming Together) coalition gives some insight into the type of character that Sowore is. Stubborn, no doubt, but principled. It goes that deliberations were made for the younger candidates to join forces to be able to compete against the political giants that are the PDP and APC. Of the candidates being considered were presidential aspirants Sowore, Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu. At the coalition meeting, Sowore suggested that each candidate campaigned with their individual parties first, to gauge their strengths. His idea was shot down, as the others wanted a consensus candidate immediately. Sowore then announced his unwillingness to participate, saying that a straw poll was not strong enough to determine the ideal presidential candidate. Fela Durotoye was then elected over Kingsley Moghalu as the consensus candidate in a process refereed by Oby Ezekwesili. Unfortunately, this decision did not hold very long, as evidenced by the fact that Fela Durotoye, Kingsley Moghalu AND Oby Ezekwesili all ran for the Presidential elections. The aftermath of this was that Mrs Ezekwesili’s party declared for the APC for some reason, while both Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu announced their withdrawal from partisan politics following their respective losses.
Sowore has always held strong that his reason for participation in politics are purely ideological and he would not dilute the message he is trying to convey by joining coalitions, even though it may result in election losses.

 

4. SOWORE DID NOT DO A PROPER CAMPAIGN + STOLE ELECTION MONEY

sowore a66e09bb07f45bfa95f2035b15f9ff64_w1000_h683

Nigerian elections post-military rule have been characterized by big money spending and budgets running into billions of Nigeria. So, when Omoyele Sowore decided to run for President with a budget of about 150 million Naira, wholly crowdfunded and with support from friends, under his own registered political party, it was alleged that his ambitions bordered on cajoling the Nigerian public.

So, when Sowore boldly announced in early 2019 that he had conducted campaigns in 34 states across the Federation, many Nigerians scoffed at him and with good reason too. With such a meager budget (as opposed to his competition), Sowore’s physical campaigns were limited to Town Hall meetings and street rallies, a huge contrast to the large stadium gatherings that characterized the APC and PDP campaigns. Where Sowore felt he must have put in the most work in answering his critics and settling public queries, he just did not have enough reach as the major opponents. He chose to focus on quality, rather than quantity. His rallies were not displayed on popular media and Television either, as he did not hold much sway there, but evidence of his campaign travels is littered on Social Media, especially Facebook and Youtube.

Sowore however, did argue that of all the Presidential Candidates, he campaigned the most. He made multiple appearances on AIT, Channels TV, Arise TV, TVC, Wazobia TV, even venturing to the BBC and BBC Pidgin. His interview with the NTA was marred by Technical difficulties which elicited cries of ‘sabotage’ from his fanbase. He was excluded from the popular BON/Channels debate although he was voted third in the polls to make an appearance. He gave talks on multiple radio stations as well. Sowore was also the only candidate to give a breakdown of his campaign finances and spending to the public for scrutiny. He made it an almost daily habit to announce the identities of his donors on Facebook and Youtube in the months leading to the elections.

 

5. SAHARA REPORTERS IS A PROPAGANDA MACHINE

Sowore’s publishing firm has always been a hotbed of controversy in Nigeria, first for the fact that it is based in America, it was seen to have some foreign influence. It was also alleged that his media machine was used in the outing of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. Also, its brand of Citizen-Based Journalism has been deemed as dictatorial, with many claims about politicians that have been vehemently denied, but hardly disproven.

Sowore has denied being influenced by foreign agents in running his publishing house. Because the paper holds nothing back when giving its reports, it has been deemed anarchist in its operations, even though many of its stories are backed with evidence. The media house is largely seen as an extension of the man himself, rather than an independent business. As a result, many of the paper’s claims have gone uninvestigated, except when “politically expedient” as Sowore claims. The most recent citation is the accusation of the Former Chief Justice of Nigeria of corruption, a claim Sahara Reporters made months earlier.

 

Hopefully, I have done some justice to clearing some Misinformation about the candidate that is Omoyele Sowore. If you have any other allegations you feel I may have missed, or claims I made that you feel are wrong, please feel free to address them in the Comments Section below.

 

PS. My name is OB Keeng. I’m a Creative Writer and Musician. This is where I share my weird thoughts with the world.

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LET US LEGALISE CORRUPTION

Let Us Legalise Corruption

 

Much ado about corruption. Stopping it was almost the entire manifesto of our current president. It has a broad definition which is pretty much the opposite of integrity. In our country it means when a government official embezzles cash or makes decisions that favour them personally and disfavour the nation.

But is corruption really that bad tho? In my discussions with friends, acquaintances and random strangers I have discovered that some people believe corruption helps drive the economy. Some say it helps keep the money in circulation. We like to cite the prosperity of the United States of America as an example of why corruption isn’t that bad. Some people say hey fuck it, we’re corrupt, let’s own it. When a family member is in public office and they don’t enrich themselves they are seen as fools. When a family member is in office and they don’t use the opportunity to employ their family members they’re seen as evil. Even the comedian Basketmouth stated the best model of leadership to be that of “You chop, I chop.”

In this post, I am going to try to give reasons why corruption is bad for the economy. I am going to speak in layman terms too, because one, I’m not an economist by profession, two, I love telling stories and giving analogies and three, I look forward to a lot of outrage in my comments section. Okay, here we go.

As I mentioned in an older post, Nigerians have a warped view of money. The paper ‘Money’ as we know it is really a store of value; it is not valuable in itself. It has to be managed too, that is why the Central Bank can’t just decide to flood the country with naira notes. If they do, there will be inflation. If they don’t supply enough notes, there will also be inflation. There is already inflation. Many people are not aware that it costs us to mint said notes. Which is why it should be an offence to deface naira notes; and why it was distasteful the way we rejected coins, which last longer and are much more cost effective.

The world is global now, and countries interact with themselves like people these days. Ignorance can’t be afforded now because it costs us. Strong economies are built on their volume of trade and income streams. What determines the value of your currency is basically a question of “how useful is your money?” The richest countries in the world are those that provide the most value.

For example, the USA which we try so much to emulate, has so many income streams from so many different parts of the world. Their entertainment sector alone sees a lot of viewers and customers from foreign nations. While the ‘Black Panther’ movie had us making Wakanda signs and adorning native dresses, the producers made $1.4 billion globally from a budget of $200 million. This is just one example from one sector. Hell the website I’m using right now is an American creation. You’re boosting their economy right now just by reading this. The USA has many other products which are exported to our country for cash and other resources. That’s value.

Countries like Saudi Arabia provide value by having a massive store of oil reserves which they provide to other countries. India is making leaps in Medicine and industrialization. China is a country that has seemed to master the Industrialisation complex and is a technology world giant. They provide value by sending us pretty much all the electronics we use.

So the real question becomes what value does Nigeria provide to the outside world?

A knee jerk response would be “hey! crude oil” as even the government has complained that we are operating a mono economy. But that’s where the corruption comes in. Nigeria does not refine her own crude. So what we have now is this weird arrangement where crude oil is exported, refined, then re-imported to us for a fee, costing us employment opportunities, development of our industries and many other big words I’m too pissed to mention right now. As a kid, I read how crude oil is distilled in secondary school chemistry textbooks, but at some point in our history, it became less of a priority for us, I guess.

There are a lot of national advancements I heard of as a kid that seem like folk tales now. I heard Nigeria milled steel at some point in Ajaokuta, I heard $1 was equal to 1 naira in ancient times, I heard the Nigerian football team was once 5th in the FIFA rankings, I heard coal was once mined in Enugu, I heard of a rich culture and tradition, I heard we once used coins as legal tender and they were called kobo, I heard that fuel once sold for 5 naira to a litre, but I can barely remember what a 5 naira note looks like anyways. Nigeria is just 58 years old, but it all seems to have happened so long ago.

Now, we have developed a culture of consumerism to the point that we import what we can easily produce. One reason is we were too late to hop on the technology train. The second is corruption. Our best and brightest brains are exported to foreign countries where their talents are better appreciated, while we wallow in mediocrity. It is because of corruption that the best football players may never see the green of a national team jersey, that is if the funds for the jerseys have not been diverted to private pockets. It is still because of corruption that a Nigerian tailoring company may never be considered to manufacture said jerseys…

Our last Olympic football team was sponsored almost in its entirety by the generous Nigerian soccer legend, John Mikel Obi. Despite the Nigerian team arriving the country 2 hours to the start of their tournament, the nation went on to win bronze. One world cup tournament later, Mikel’s parents were kidnapped and held for ransom during the world’s premiere footballing tournament. Mikel was forced to keep a straight face and play like nothing was wrong while he was dying inside.

mikel-obi-speaks-on-resignation-1

In a corrupt system, the value of money gradually becomes useless. That is evident and we are the evidence. It becomes a game of who can cheat the other the most, and all products and services are watered down to their barest element and drained of quality. Transactions are carried out without trust, which means less reliance on trade, which means less transactions. We have heard many cases of corrupt individuals diverting money overseas, or even digging giant pits in their own homes to store money. This drives currency out of circulation and kills its value, because it’s not in use. It would be much better if it was reinvested in the country, but then the environment isn’t too safe for investment is it? due to, again, corruption. It has even reached a point where borrowed money cannot be accounted for, driving the nation further into debt.

I have no doubt that the Nigerian story will be one for the history books. It reads like a biblical tale of woe. Like a manual of 101 things to avoid when starting your nation. One of the many reminders of the cruelty of humanity. I do hope we get it right one day. Till then, I remain focused on survival and enlightenment.

 

 

PS. My name is OB KeengI’m a Creative Writer and Musician. This is where I share my weird thoughts with the world.

MONEY IS KILLING NIGERIANS

I credit Henry David Thoreau for the critical structure of this essay

MONEY IS KILLING NIGERIANS

I do not think that I will be alone in saying that I am quite enamored by the concept of money. Whether it’s the printed pieces of paper that seem to dictate the daily lives of the people, or the bank account numbers that seemingly determine self-worth, it is a system of value that nobody really chooses but everyone agrees on.

A “poor” man is seen as a person who does not have money in “adequate” amounts; and this adequacy is defined by how he compares with his peers. In an attempt to garner more money the “poor” man must undertake a series of risky, monotonous or otherwise soul-crushing tasks; tasks which are rarely natural to the human condition in order to survive. Tasks that only result in more tasks, making him/her even more subservient to the circumstances that they had tried to escape in the process.

Ever since the discovery of oil, “urbanization” and subsequent westernization, Nigerians have developed a warped sense of money. Instead of money being a tool to develop and improve life, foster trade and innovation, instead it has become a goal to be attained; and because of this, money that is meant to simplify life has been made to compound it.

The “poor” man that grows his own food and makes his own shelter is now a villager, a relic of an old age and not worthy of any respect. If he cannot escape his circumstance he is seen as spiritually deficient. As he cannot put his experiences to paper he is deemed an illiterate. But the “rich” man is wise. The “rich” man who attains foreign appliances which he cannot produce nor maintain, the “rich” man who has lost all semblance of bodily fitness, who actively spends on products designed to destroy his body and soul.

Money has become a god in itself, and its ways are mysterious indeed. In its poetic beauty it is no respecter of persons. It may choose to bless the short or the tall, the book-smart or the street-smart, the fit or the unfit, the hardworking or the lazy. Money can bless a generation and curse another within the same family. It can strengthen a tribe or it can destroy it. It can motivate a nation or it can demoralize it.

Pray tell, the use of acquiring a multi-million naira vehicle, if there are no roads for it to ply? It would seem that the nation has imported its stock of appliances in excess that there is not enough electricity generated to utilize them… We are an island of consumers. There is little incentive to produce anything of value; even the humble toothpick is imported from overseas, as well as the noble straw. I still find it hard to place where the lack of support for local business stems from. Is it out of hatred for our fellow man? Or the fear that he might rise above us? Could it stem from a lack of trust in his abilities or his intentions? We seem to crave foreign intervention for issues we could handle perfectly ourselves. We seek to “escape” to foreign lands with less natural resources and harsher climates than our own for some semblance of sanity. We go where we are not needed nor wanted to find what we destroyed.

We rejected coins because notes were easier to handle (which is the most logical conclusion from that debacle). When the people don’t like something, they don’t like something. We chose inflation instead. And yet the notes we clung on to we crumple and deface on a daily basis. Where a coin could have lasted a decade, a note can only last a year.

I find it ironic that the learned politician, who fearfully stashes away large sums of money in his sewage pit, cutting it off from circulation and ventilation, thereby driving down its value both literally and economically, is more respected than the internet fraudster; the G man who through ingenuity and skill, plays on the greed of his victims and injects foreign currency into the economy.

Our priorities are long lost.

But why do I write all this? Let it be known, humble reader, that this is no call to pacifism; for there is nothing more dangerous to the human condition. After all, this is the realm of power, and the violent take it by force and whatnot. But if this is our true nature and this is how things are meant to be… why then do the people complain. I do tire of the incessant complaining. The “poor” man complains vehemently about his condition as does the “rich” man. If there is one thing that will unify the nation it is lamentation and apportioning blame to anyone other than ourselves. Gathered around a newspaper stand the herd argue bitterly over the many transgressions of the shepherd, blaming him for all their ills. At political gatherings the shepherd berates the herd for not toiling hard enough in the sun, as he fears for his security and seeks protection with the wolves.

Best not to further dampen your spirits by entertaining fantasies of what could have been. Best to adapt and overcome. Celebrate the scavenger and learn his ways. Give us Barabbas and keep your Messiahs. We refuse to yield.

 

PS. My name is OB KeengI’m a Creative Writer and Musician. This is where I share my weird thoughts with the world.

THE MESSIAH COMPLEX

If you are new to the drama and glamour that is the Nigerian Election just wait till 2019. Oh boy! are you in for a treat. The campaign jingles will be catchy and memorable, The Promises to serve will be grandiose and verbose, People will get arrested, others freed, the Media and Social Media houses will experience a content frenzy. The excitement of the FIFA World cup pales in comparison to the quest for leadership in this Nation. And yet, after the high that the process gives, all we are left with is the crushing disappointment of reality. This is due in part to what I call…

 

THE MESSIAH COMPLEX

 

For some time now the Nigerian people have been fond of searching for “The One”. The Political Saviour who will arrive and completely change the country’s fortunes overnight. The Religious sensibilities of the people will reach a peak every four years. It would seem that every Electoral candidate comes with the promise of performing miracles.

Goodluck-Jonathan

 

I had no shoes” said President Goodluck Jonathan in the battle for 2011. It was a tale of Legend, a young boy whose lack of footwear could not hold him back from pursuing an education. We were intrigued to learn his secret. Four years of the most gruesome allegations of misappropriation later, a new warrior unsheathed his blade…

 

Muhammadu-Buhari-speech

 

“I am going to kill corruption” said President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. We jumped at the opportunity. Finally, a man who killed vices with his bare hands. The change we needed became the change we never expected. The youths were reported to the colonial masters. “They want everything free”. It was an unkind critique of the human condition.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

 

I eagerly anticipate the Miracles that will the claimed by the next set of aspirants, where every campaign banner will be photoshopped to the last hair, with quotes that illustrate a heaven within the reach of the people. If we have learnt one thing from our 58 years of independence, it is that the old ways do not work. Why then, would we continue to use them?

It would seem that the nation is aging in reverse. Personally, I would expect a leader to be the best representative of the people. If I had wanted someone to represent me, I would look for the strongest, the most intelligent, the most well spoken. A leader to me, is not a miracle worker, but one that inspires hope and gives a sense of direction. It is why we Africans idolize the Nelson Mandelas and Martin Luther Kings.

But maybe that’s just me. There is no escaping the conundrum. One must lead for others to follow, otherwise we all ply the roads with no direction. Would you rather drive your car into a ditch knowingly or unknowingly? My major gripe with the Nigerian people is that in the wake of religious and ethic disunity,
we have been so busy searching for answers that we forgot to ask questions. The only solution is inquiry. This time around,

 

ASK QUESTIONS

 

Ask for debates, Ask for town hall meetings, Ask for manifestos. Your candidate, who is he? Who is she? Where are they from? What have they done? What do they wish to do? What qualifies them for public service? How can they help the nation?

Ask and ask again, otherwise your voters card is just a tool for your slavery. For another four years at least.

 

PS. My name is OB KeengI’m a Creative Writer and Musician. This is where I share my weird thoughts with the world.

ORIJIN STORIES

Sometimes I feel like the origin stories of my favorite actors and musicians are made up fairy tales. In fact, sometimes I feel like Wikipedia profiles are absolute crap. I’ll explain.

Take someone like D’Banj for instance– African Music Megastar, Cultural Icon, Gifted Entertainer and World Class Fela Impersonator.

dbanj

Now, according to his internet biography, D’Banj once worked as a security guard in the UK before he became a musician.

Assuming this were to be true, could you just imagine the mannerisms and hilarisms of D’Banj being a security guard? Exactly what kind of organization would hire such a skinny fellow to stand guard at the gate?  Do security uniforms come in sleeveless shirts and bootcut trouser varieties?

Pulse-D-banj-as-Fela

…and how come not a single customer of said institution has ever stepped forward to testify to the fact that D’banj once welcomed them in through the doors. It would seem like a pretty memorable event to have D’Banj usher you into the building..

Customer enters

Security man: “Oshe!! Welcome-to-Customer-Care-Services-UK-Limited-PLC-Im-D’Banj… or-Ski-Banj-like-my-Jamaican-friends-call-me-and-BEFORE-you-enter-the-building-please-permit-me-to-inspect-that-BIG-BIG-BIG-BOOTY”

Customer: ‘Can I go in with my bag?’

Security man: “FIILE!! Don’t touch it. Leave it! We will take-care-of-it for you.”

Customer: ‘Will it be safe?’

Security man: “No long tin. No long tin.”

Customer: ‘Can you direct me to the receptionist’s desk?’

Security man: “Just move that booty to the left of the corridor and you will meet one mamalette with a green blouse. Just ask her “WHY ME OH!” She will direct you to a babylette on the second floor. She will tell you the koko.”

You know what? On second thought—I think he would make an excellent security guard.

Now, DON JAZZY’s origin story is totally unbelievable, not to mention unacceptable.

Don-Jazzy

The story is that he used to sell akara when he was a toddler, but I don’t see how that can be true… he would be giving away akara for free like it was water—

–I mean have you seen this guy’s twitter account? The guy is too generous. He practically gives away a new car every week.

The only way I could really see Don Jazzy as an akara seller was if a customer vexed the guy and got him angry for some reason. Like imagine if a  customer tried to steal some akara from him and he caught them…

Customer: “Is it because of one akara I tried to take from you that you’re frowning like this? This small akara?”

Akara seller: ‘Egbon Customer, If you want the akara, come and take it.’
don jazzy fallout

Are there any origin stories of your favorite celebrities that you think are absolute balderdash? Feel free to comment below…

 

PS. My name is OB KeengI’m a Creative Writer and Musician. This is where I share my weird thoughts with the world.