By Ayokunle Adeniji
A couple of things must be involved when an individual with Omoyele Sowore’s assumed standing decides to downgrade his #RevolutionNow protest into #PotPanProtest. He might have finally seen #RevolutionNow for the aberration that it was, the very thing that made the movement collapsed even before it properly took off in spite of the fact that it was touted as the mother of all protests, Nigeria’s version of Arab Spring that will finally overthrow a democratically elected government and hand over the reins of power to the opposition the one led by a Sowore, who only garnered some 38,000 votes in the 2019 election.
It could be that introspection finally forced Sowore to re-assess his situation. Revolution is idealistic. Hunger is real. What better way to tell people that he is more about the culinary gains and not the improvement of the lots of Nigerians as he likes to pretend. He struck on a symbolic note with the genius result that pots and pans became the symbols of his supposed protest against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. Afterall, the pots and pans have to be empty to be beaten upon and create the din that is sending Sowore into ecstatic mind trips.
A third possibility is even less palatable. Sowore is no stranger to megalomania, a twisted strain of god syndrome – a perverted assumption that he alone holds the answers to Nigeria’s problems. Could he have become bipolar in the period he was in custody while standing trial for treason, a sojourn that derived from his call for nationwide mayhem with the #RevolutionNow excuse. The choice of pots and pans, while on the surface may be symbolic of hunger, holds a deeper meaning for Sowore because the raucous noise from the affairs seems to be feeding the cravings of a manic-depressive.
Videos of participants in the distasteful protest, shared to Sowore’s Facebook wall, depict what is to be expected. An assortment of people with anger issues arising mostly from their perceived failure in life or in what they should have done better. Let’s ignore Senator Shehu Sani, who rolled out an expensive non-stick pan that gave away the game that this protest is more about political bitterness than it is about the suffering poor, who have been hit hardest by the lockdown imposed in scores of countries of the world to curtail COVID-19 from exterminating humanity.
Whatever Sowore’s mental status is, he has no justification for reducing a matter of human misery into comic relief for the twisted pleasure of his social media followers. It is like kicking those affected by the virus in the teeth and rubbing their faces in the mud. Such insensitivity from someone who boasts about fighting for human rights is irresponsible and condemnable irrespective of whatever justification is made for it. Reducing hunger into a joke creates the risk for those who should intervene becoming de-sensitized to the realities of families suffering deprivation.
The travesty is that Sowore works with international partners, who are given to political correctness, people that abhor referencing situations or persons in a way that disparages or attracts negativity. All he needed to have done was to run his #PotPanProtest through the matrix applied to international engagements and he would have possibly come up with an acceptable execution plan for his desired attack on the government. That way he will have a politically correct approach and terminologies that do not criminalize hunger or glamourized those that are well fed to the point of making mockery of the have-nots.
The ravages of COVID-19 are real and serious. The over 182,000 deaths recorded as at the time of writing pale into insignificance compared with what is to come for the living. The global economy has taken a hit. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is concerned that 195 million jobs can be lost to the impact of the virus. The United Nations has warned of biblical famine due to the virus, which must be noted is not peculiar to Nigeria.
Yet all Sowore can think of is to localize a global crisis as a result of the pandemic in a manner that suggests that only Nigeria is afflicted or that the blame lies on one political party or the president. This kind of slant should have anyone that has ever relied on Sahara Reporters, published by Sowore, to have a rethink about what mental, psychological and emotional poison they have been fed. They should be alarmed that this slanting of the situation was not a product of error, but a well-orchestrated plan that have other aspects being executed by people in the same circuit as the Sahara Reporters publisher.
Yes. The government response could have been better and that is the feedback from citizens to their governments the world over, even in the countries that were labelled as “advanced economies” before COVID-19 struck. But Sowore’s #PotPanProtest must be one of the few instances were recalcitrant elements are attempting to hijack the people’s pain to revive a failed revolution, which was misguided in the first place. This is cowardice. Bravery would have seen him retain his #RevolutionNow war chant and see how quickly he ends up in jail.
The reality is that the government is giving palliatives and food assistance, but we all know that this cannot go around. Mosques, churches and other religious groups are giving relief packages in addition to organizations and philanthropists that are throwing in their support. Even at personal level, individuals are being their brothers’ keepers and keeping families out of the grip of hunger. This is the story in several countries of the world as the virus brought out in most people the humanity that was once thought lost even though it also unmasked the monster in someone like Sowore.
If Sowore is truly interested in the starving masses as he put it, there are several channels available to render assitance without making mockery of those that will go to bed without dinner tonight and without hope of waking up to a breakfast. He can for instance distribute palliatives to the poorest and most vulnerable that have not been reached by government using the huge funds that he leveraged from people using Sahara Reporters as a battering ram. He could also go to his client and play his charm on them to take responsibility for feeding specific vulnerable communities while he can also convince the mega-Bishops in the land to consider increasing whatever charities they are already involved in.
It is painful that as lofty as these ideas are, they are beyond Sowore, who is too far consumed by the hatred he harbours for President Buhari, and whoever will occupy the office after him (he has a penchant for hating whoever occupies the office of the President). His manic episodes, as confirmed by the beating of pots and pans, and the resulting depressive aftermaths have taken such strong hold of him that he will most likely degenerate into being suicidal. Things must not be allowed to get to this stage since he would still be rushed to a hospital should he make any attempt on his own life, which would only drain the available medical resources at a time when slowing down COVID-19 is the priority. Sowore should be placed on suicide watch because #PotPanProtest has clearly confirmed he is losing it.
Adeniji wrote from Lagos.