By Abdulrazaq O Hamzat
Truly, money can buy them position and influence, but it can never buy
them integrity. If integrity is a commodity being sold in the market,
they may be able to afford it, but unfortunately, this is not the
case. Integrity cannot be bought.
Apart from on the media, i have never seen nor met with Omoyele
Sowere, founder of Sahara reporter, neither have I ever seen, nor met
with Bukola Saraki, former Kwara State Governor. However, I have
encountered both personalities based on their activities as it affects
the general public.
My conclusion based on public records of the activities of both party
is that, one specializes in looting public resources; while the other
specializes in exposing loot and impunity. This explains why they
can’t cohabit. Light and darkness won’t be friends.
Take it or leave it, Sowore is light, Saraki is darkness. If both of
them die today, the world will forever remember Sowore for his
outstanding contribution to government accountability, but as for
Saraki, the world will be a better place without him. His praise
singers will simply move on to praise other looters who can pay the
Let me break this down for you all to understand.
In retrospect, the first time the name, Bukola Saraki was ever
mentioned in public document was in 1990, when he was standing trial
for theft and fraud perpetrated at the Society General Bank (Police
The name, Omoyele Sowore on the other hand made it to public document
in 1992 as an activist, anti military dictator, and President of
University of Lagos Student Union Government.
Public record as you can see shows that in early 90’s, one was
fighting for democracy and students right against military
dictatorship, while the other was alleged of stealing customers money
at a bank owned by his father. Between this two, who is light and who
is darkness? You decide.
Fast forward to our return to democracy in 1999.
The name Bukola Saraki came back to public consciousness in 2003, when
he ran for Kwara State Governorship position. Sowore on the other hand
returned to public consciousness in 2006, not just as a critic of
public irresponsibility, but also as a champion of free expression.
Sowore established Sahara Reporter to democratize journalism in
Nigeria and encourage everyday people to report stories about
corruption, human rights abuses and other political misconduct in
Nigeria. Again, one was spending his time, money, intellect and energy
to empower other Nigerians and create a decent society worth living,
while the other was only interested in having access to public purse.
When Saraki came on board in 2003, he said he wanted to end poverty in
Kwara State and build infrastructure, but 15 years after taking charge
of the state of harmony, Kwara has been dragged deeper into poverty
and its infrastructure in greater shamble than ever before. All major
companies had closed down, no single school built and our hospitals
remain without drugs. This is the legacy that has continued.
Sowore on the other hand has not only succeeded in getting people to
be telling the real stories of corruption, human right abuses from all
across Nigeria; he also made his platform readily available for the
stories to be told. This was the objective of Sahara Reporter from day
one and it has been achieved. Again, Sowore has passed and Saraki nko?
A massive failure.
Personally speaking, I have been publishing articles and reports on
Sahara reporter for over 5 years. On no occasion did anyone ever asked
me to pay any money. This is not a small feat, considering the brown
envelop syndrome prevalent among media organizations in Nigeria.
More surprisingly, a friend had written a PR content for someone
running for office at a time. He approached Sahara reporter to publish
the content as advert, but to my greatest surprise, Sahara reporter
told him they don’t publish sponsored political content. I mean, every
media outlet carry sponsored content to make money. If you ask Linda
Ikeji, she will tell you the meaning of getting patronage from
politicians, but Sahara reporter doesn’t care about money, all they
want is to telling the real and factual stories. Any content that is
geared towards promoting any person for political office is not
allowed, no matter how much you want to pay. This ensures that nobody
influences the platform with money. This is the person some
nonentities are accusing with fake account statement. I just dey
laugh. Some people are too valuable than money.
It is a public knowledge that many politicians, including presidents
have attempted to influence Sahara reporters with money on several
occasions, but none of them succeeded. There is something money cannot
buy. It is called Omoyele Sowore. Saraka has tried it several times
and failed. The same way he failed Kwara and now failing Nigeria. He
his a specialist in failure.
Let me narrate a special encounter with Omoyele. During our struggle
at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) which led to our
expulsion, Sowore whom I have never met surprised me. Apart from the
fact that he assigned a journalist to always cover our story, he did
something remarkable. My colleague, Elias Ozikpu who was the Public
Relation Officer of the Congress of NOUN Students informed me that
Sowore had called to ask if we need financial assistance for our
lawsuit. I mean, an unknown person, calling to offer financial support
to us, isn’t that remarkable?
Although, we told him we had sorted the finance, but the fact that he
was ready to give us funds, without even asking for his assistance is
something that shocked me really. Is this the person you are comparing
When our case was eventually reversed for judgement, Sowore offered to
finance a victory party for the Congress of NOUN students. This is
somebody I have never met before.
The point is that, if Sowore have $100 million dollars, he will give
it out to young people in need. He will use it to empower hundreds, if
not thousands of youths. He doesn’t need it for himself. He his a man
with high moral standard.
If Sowore decided to open Sahara reporter to sponsored content today,
I can assure you that the first person that will pay him for
sponsorship is Bukola Saraki. All politicians in Nigeria will queue to
pay Omoyele. Some will even dobale (prostrate) to give him the money.
But to hell with blood money. Sowore needs it not.