13th May, 2013
By Joe Igbokwe
The other day I watched Al Jazeera Television where Omoyele Sowore, of Sahara Reporters, our own Professor Wole Soyinka and Dr Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant on Media to President Goodluck Jonathan spoke on Nigeria’s political crisis and Boko Haram insurgence. The programme was anchored by Femi Oke of Al Jazeera Network International. Each and every one of the discussants gave accounts of themselves on the best way to move Nigeria in these troubled times. All of them agreed that this is not the best of times for Nigeria.
While Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters talked about corruption in almost every strata of government that tends to be a cog in the wheel of progress, Professor Wole Soyinka spoke about International Network of Terrorists that empower their Nigerian counterparts. Dr Doyin Okupe spoke on how government has been coping with the problem facing Nigeria , the amnesty programme and others.
However, in the heat of the debate Doyin Okupe threw mud into what is supposed to be decent international discussion, when he started calling Omoyele Sowore names. He came short of calling Sowore an enemy of Nigeria who collects money from enemies of Nigeria to pull down Nigeria. At a point he asked Sowore to shut up. Doyin Okupe was not disposed to debating the issue of corruption and waste in Nigeria. True to the tag he had been bearing since he was recruited to go after the real and perceived enemies of the Jonathan government, Doyin Okupe behaved like a typical attack dog. I know that Sowore merely respected his age in not giving him back the measure he gave. I give kudos to Sowore for exercising utmost restraint as well as pointedly telling Okupe his rich history of corruption which made Okupe to fly off.
Now, the unrepentant Jonathan government attack dog called Dr Doyin Okupe must be educated a little about this patriot and conscience of Nigeria called Comrade Omoyele Sowore. Omoyele Sowore hails from Ondo State, Nigeria. He is a former student union leader at the University of Lagos from October 1992 to March 1994. Sowore used that platform to fight cultism to a standstill at Unilag. Since he left Unilag, Sowore has been an activist and a patriot who wants the best for Nigeria. This drive for a better Nigeria led to the founding of Sahara Reporters, an online news site. The site has steadily built its reputation and credibility to become Nigeria’s most authoritative news site. It has become a real threat to corrupt and irresponsible leaders who watch in frustration as Nigerians depend on the news site for credible information on the sordid happenings in government. The site has international credibility and Sowore has become a toast to international news agencies who source credible information on Nigeria.
Today Dr Okupe may not know this: Sowore’s Sahara Reporters has done monumental job for Nigeria which all the Ministers, all the Special Advisers and Assistants, all the Senators, all the House of Reps members, all the Permanent Secretaries, and Directors-General, etc could not do in Abuja. Sowore through Sahara Reporters has given a voice to the voiceless, he has given voice to Nigerians in diaspora, he has given voice to the oppressed and the dispossessed. Sowore’s Sahara Reporters has fought Nigeria ’s corrupt elites to a standstill, fought election riggers and dealt a deadly blow to enemies of Nigeria. Former Governor Ohakim of Imo State will never forgive this erudite news platform for the way it gave voice to Imo people to defend their mandate they gave Rochas Okorocha in 2011. Other former governors and serving governors would have been cursing the day Sowore was born. Unconscionable and shameless looters of Nigeria will never forgive Sowore for pricking their consciences. In their offices, bedrooms, toilets, bathrooms, hideouts, drinking joints, hotels etc, Sahara Reporters has been a torn in their flesh, speaking truth to power. The man Sowore does this thankless job without soiling his hands. Corrupt Nigerians have tried to buy him up thinking that he has a price tag on his neck but they have failed woefully. The mandarins in power dread Sowore and Sahara Reporters like cancer and will never rest each day without checking what the site talks about them. They have spent huge sums trying to discredit the site to no avail. Today, they live in frustration as their enablers crack their heads on the best possible ways to meet the challenge of Sahara Reporters.
Once Sowore makes up his mind on anything, only God will stop him. He collects no dime from anybody, he works for nobody, he takes instructions from nobody. He acts according to the dictates of his conscience. He is a special breed of a patriot who works hours on end for Nigeria to be reclaimed from fraudsters. Together with few others in online publications, the task and the big picture is how to make Nigeria a better place and they have done well for themselves and Nigerians. Nigeria will never be the same again.
Dr Doyin Okupe is judging Omoyele Sowore by his own standards. No, it can never be. Doyin Okupe is part of the problem in Nigeria and not part of the solution. We know his antecedents very well and as long as these kinds of people remain in the corridors of power there is little hope for this country. Doyin Okupe is among the wasted genre of Nigerians and he and his masters live in perpetual dread of Sowore and his Sahara Reporters. They know that so long as Sowore and Sahara Reporters live, they will have a horrible time with what they do with governance and we must thank God for that. I am of the sincere opinion that Nigerians owe Sowore and Sahara Reporters a debt of eternal gratitude for we may not fathom what Nigeria would have been without this great site.
•Igbokwe wrote from Lagos.