Nigerian presidential elections upcoming, Omoyele Sowore looks for the votes

Nayaba Arinde | 2/14/2019, 10:16 a.m.
The Nigerian presidential election is set to take place Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
Omoyele Sowore

The Nigerian presidential election is set to take place Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.

Hoping for “no wahala” free and fair elections, Nigeria’s 200 million people are awaiting the uninterrupted participation and the clean outcome of an election a good portion of the world is paying close attention to.

On the ground, candidates, supporters, voters and election observers are urging the voting populous to go to the polls with their PVC (Permanent Voting Card) firmly in hand, and vote their best interest.

Make every vote count is the call. Do not be swayed by politicking machinations subtle or insidious, is the advice from all parties involved.

All of the 70-plus candidates are on their starters blocks. The campaign trail has been heady and intense. Imagine career politicians, educators, business people and true patriots all vying to take the seat to lead Nigeria, one of Africa’s greatest oil-rich countries.

With dozens of parties on the ballot, the major parties are all predicting victory.

Elder statesmen leading the media stakes are Muhammadu Buhari, the three-year incumbent with the All Progressives Congress, and the opposition leader Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party. Ambitious aspirants with major name recognition include: Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria; Kingsley Moghalu from the Youth Progressive Party; and Omoyele Sowore of his own African Action Congress.

Obiageli Ezekwesili is the promising candidate who has just dropped out. She is the Harvard University graduate, former vice president of the World Bank and the education minister who fought vehemently for the return of the kidnapped Chibok Girls. With no workable opposition coalition on the books, Feb. 16 is the date set for the big election with Buhari, Atiku and Sowore on the ballot in that order.

With campaign promises falling from mouths like a waterfall, Feb. 17 should bring an end to crippling unemployment, devastating poverty, wayward corruption and dire health care.

Buhari has touted his “Next Level” manifesto as being able to assist Nigeria’s 36 states in improved infrastructure, social welfare programs and the creation of better wages. Atiku has spent the campaign telling the millions of unemployed youth that he has plans to create sustainable work for them; and a blueprint to revamp the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and utilize and monetize current assets by privatizing abandoned oil refineries.

With 30 years of activism in both nations, the America/Nigeria residing Sowore has said that he is a third force who should be considered the first. His manifesto is summed up in the acronym SPICER-HEAT, that is: Security, Power, Infrastructure, Economy, Restructuring, Health, Education, Agriculture and Technology. Rejecting all “ethnic politics,” the creator of the Manhattan-based online Sahara Reporters, Sowore is calling for an all-out “Revolution Now” on business as usual in Nigeria politics, economics and social norms that has left a powerful nation tethered to dysfunctional ways and outcomes.

Sowore visited the Amsterdam News Harlem offices to stress that his 10-point plan can make Nigeria the powerhouse nation it should be.

With eight marathons run, and a Lagos 10k run last month under his belt, the “voice of New Nigeria,” Sowore says he is like no other candidate. He says humbly that he was a political upstart from high school—beaten and tortured by police and military as a student for the political stances he took through high school to university and beyond.