Tuesday, 22 May 2018

SOWORE: is he also a criminal -OKOI, the Obong shouldn't welcome him -UTSU, he's preferable -ODIDI

Efio-Ita Nyok|22 May 2018 

The presidential aspiration of Mr Omoyele Sowore, publisher of leading online newspaper, SaharaReporters, has sparked controversy particularly in Cross River State, Nigeria. 

Two popular social commentators, Messrs Obasesam Okoi and Simon Utsu have aired their reservations against Sowore for President campaign. In fact, Utsu has gone as far as asking the Obong of Calabar from refraining from meeting with Sowore. Okoi has asked one Mr Agba Jalingo whether Sowore is also a criminal seeing that ex-militants recently endorsed him and the latter was seen to be jubilating having previously condemned ex-militants as criminals. However, Odidi has charged Nigerian youths to take Sowore more seriously even though his black-for-ransom strand of journalism is outrightly condemnable. 
What follows will be excerpts of the thread of Okoi, Utsu and Odidi. 

Is Sowore Also A Criminal? —Obasesam Okoi 

In the past few months our brother and friend Agba Jalingo, has been championing the "Sowore for President" campain on social media. Those who ordinarily had lost respect for Sowore due to his style of "blackmail-for-ransome" kind of journalism, saw the need to extend some grace and, perhaps give him the benefit of a doubt. 

Yesterday, Agba Jalingo shared a Vanguard publication in which ex-militant leaders in Niger Delta endorsed Sowore for president. 

My reaction is not instigated by the gale of endorsements but by Jalingo's celebration of these endorsements, which seems hypocritical to me given his negative perception of these actors. Why is this a problem?

In the past, Jalingo had publicly condemned all Niger Delta ex-militant leaders as criminals. Before and after the 2015 elections in which the ex-militant leaders made public declarations expressing their support for Jonathan or threatening to shut down Buhari's government, Jalingo took to Facebook and wrote dozens of essays dismissing their actions and labelling them criminals.

Thereafter, he leveraged his journalistic contacts in Lagos to appear on a TV program focussing on violence in Niger Delta. As usual, his reaction was raw, unapologetic, and  infuriating, but theoretically less rigorous as his claims that ex-militant leaders are "criminals" was not substantiated with empirical evidence. 

There's a popular aphorism that "show me your friends and I will tell you who you are." Therefore, Jalingo's expression of joy and optimism following the endorsement of his choice of presidential candidate by a group of so-called  "criminals," raises a plethora of questions about the character of his presidential candidate. 

What do we make of a presidential candidate who is endorsed by "criminals," rebels, and killers? Should such a candidate be taken seriously by reasonable Nigerians? Should we celebrate such a candidate or rather throw a word of caution? Can we trust such a candidate to rule a nation when his organization has less than 5 employees who all specialize in blackmail journalism as a means to an end and now employing militants as  a campaign strategy? 

Just an observation.

On Sowore! —by Princewill Odidi 

While there may be very good candidates aspiring to be President of Nigeria, in my Judgement Sowore meets the requirement, knowledge and tenacity of the type of leader Nigeria needs going forward. Non of these recycled politicians have anything to offer other than to squander our commonwealth. I have read several publications of blackmail about him, while some may be proven, he is still far better than those most people prefer. 

Like every other business man, his media house is focused on Nigeria, it is difficult to do anything in Nigeria without compromising your integrity. If he is alleged to have blackmailed others in the past through his media, we have to let those allegations go, lets not dwell on that, let's work with him and move Nigeria forward. 

Over the years I have had the opportunity to interact with the Nigerian Political class from both sides of the divide and at the policy and implementation level, the truth is they cannot produce for us the Nigeria we crave for, not because they are unwilling or do not have the intent, the fact is they do not have the technical capacity, administrative and political will power to move nigeria into the 21st century. 

Even if Sowore does not win the coming elections due to our ethnic divide, it is ok. In my thinking, for him to muster the ability to mobilize and challenge the existing order, moving from state to state in nigeria and in most cases by road transport commands my respect. 

As young people, it is far better you ignore his call for Change and support those you prefer rather than attempting to join the current misled political class to drag him down. Let he that is without sin cast the first stone, Jesus said. 

I implore all my friends and fans in calabar, keep a date with him as he visits calabar. Attend the town hall meetings with an open mind, ask questions if you can, even if we are defeated, at least join the revolution, don't be part of those working to quench the flame. It may not be him, but this is the type of revolution that can bring about the change we talk about. I am in, what about you?

The Obong of Calabar shouldn't welcome Sowore —by Simon Utsu 

I implore the good people at the palace of his imperial majesty, the Obong of Calabar to prevent one Omoyele Sowore, a purported presidential candidate from having audience with the Obong. 

I understand he has been scheduled to visit the palace next week or thereabouts but I doubt if his candidacy is in the best interest of the good people of Cross River state; going by his antecedents which are well known. It would be quite pleasurable if our dear royal father who is always very busy, instead, delegates a couple of his Etuboms to 'attend' to Mr Omoyele Sowore.

While it must be admitted that the trio of Odidi, Utsu and Okoi have very sound arguments, however, Odidi's argument in my thinking, is more compelling especially where he advocated for downplaying Sowore's weaknesses and emphasise more on his strengths. 

Be that as it may, Jalingo hasn't been able to marshal out strong arguments in response to Okoi: Jalingo really needs to tell us categorically whether Omoyele is also a criminal. 

An interlocutor of mine recently posed the question, can Omoyele be seen as the face of the revolution Nigeria is badly in need of? For me, like some, the real solution to Nigeria's challenge is 

While we may need a revolutionary, we still posit that character be paramount. 

Efio-Ita Nyok
Is the Blogger-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher of NegroidHaven 

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