I Have No Interest In Working For Obasanjo – Omoyele Sowore

by Uche Nworah

Q. Do you have friends in government and who are they?

A. That’s the funniest question I would say; I only know people in government in Nigeria the same way a student would learn about them in a civics class. I have never been to a governor’s office before, never met anyone in the executive arm of the government in Nigeria. As a policy, I don’t attend gatherings where Nigerian government officials gather. Only if there was a protest!

Q. Has President Olusegun Obasanjo or other government officials ever tried to contact you over a story, directly or indirectly?

A. Until recently, whenever we published stories I never even have a contact e-mail attached. Jonathan’s contact and office phones are the ones listed on the website. There are a few moves here and there that I suspected were attempts at reaching out to me from government quarters, but I am really very quick to rebuff such attempts. I make it clear that I have no interest in working either for Obasanjo or any crook running Nigeria today. But from our sources in Nigeria, we have been regaled by the stories that they are concerned about our activities. I am usually happy when I hear that they ask who those boys are. There was no room in my heart to consider working for any of them, I hate their type of governance with passion.

Q. Have you finally reconciled with Governor Orji Kalu? And what do you think of his 2007 bid for president?

A. I never had any beef with Governor Orji Kalu. Shortly after he denied the existence of that interview with me, he called me to say some nice things about me and he told me that he believes in what we do, but with a caveat that he wants us to be “friends” and would like me to get familiar with his campaign for President. I detest politicians especially Nigerian politicians and I have never thought Orji Kalu to be a principled person. In 2007, I think he will be running for relevance, his presidential bid is of value as long as he is not ignored. In my estimate, I think Gov. Orji Kalu is obsessed with publicity to the extent that he will fall sick if he were to open a newspaper in the morning and not find his name!

Q. Are you interested in the 2007 politics? What will you say if you are called upon to serve your people in any capacity?

A. I have repeatedly said it that I don’t believe in the political process in Nigeria, I am not interested in politics, I am hoping that my future engagements can help clean the Aegean Stable called Nigeria and open the political space for honest people to participate in politics, but not this one! I hate the cliché that people can be invited to serve their fatherland, it gives credence to the belief that the homeland actually belongs to some feudal lords who can call in people to serve at their pleasure, I consider my writings as more than enough service to the Nigerian people!

Q. So after elendureports.com, what next? Any plans to set up your own news agency?

A. I might set up a news feed kind of website or a blog. Generally, I want to continue to make my writings available in as many media and platforms as possible.

Q. What is your assessment of the Nigerian Journalist today?

A. It is very hard to say, I witnessed the era of journalism when the Nigerian press practically ran Nigeria from their various newsrooms. They made the daily life of Nigerian dictators miserable, even though they controlled NTA, Radio Nigeria and some other government – owned newspapers. They really tried and they worked hard! But the topography of media ownership has altered all that. Most of the newspapers are owned by State Governors and persons active in government. I guess that is the source of the quality of what is in the Nigeria media today. There is an unspoken and unwritten rule that some of the newspapers would not rock the boat of their owners, no matter how interesting or factual a story may be. But I still doff my hat for the average newspaper reporter in Nigeria. They are bearing the torch, but the batteries are really weak!

Q. Have you ever thought about taking your skills back to Nigeria, to work either for the Nigerian government or other communication agencies?

A. My skills, (if you call them skills) are currently deplored in Nigeria. We write reports that are targeted at Nigeria and Nigerians- both at home and abroad, I will not work for an undemocratic and anti-peoples’ government, so do not expect me to work for government. I will continue to ally with credible communication agencies in Nigeria and in the diaspora with the aim of furthering our aspirations for a fair, just, transparent and equitable Nigeria! I already work in Nigeria out of the US, my heart and soul is in Nigeria. The only difference is that I don’t get paid for working for Nigeria because I don’t work for the “owners of Nigeria” using Seyi Oduyela’s words.

Q. Tell us about the special woman in your life? Or do you think that women get intimated by your ‘tell all’ brand of writing?

A. If you have a sister, woul

d you ever encourage her to marry me? I will have to check with the special woman in my life if she would like her affairs to be discussed on the internet. No, I have decided to carry this cross alone for now; I have a private life and a special someone whom I have decided not to bring into my public life!

Q. How do you relax in your free time?

A. I don’t really have much free time. I swim during the summer, if I ever have time to do so. I grew up beside a lake, I love water a lot!

Q. Have you ever thought about writing a book about your experiences with your exposé writing, just like Ndaeyo Uko’s satirical book on Babangida’s presidency (Rock ‘n’ Rule)?

A. I have a life that pre-dates writing exposés; I have started writing my experiences down gradually. I don’t like to promise to write a book because I don’t want anyone to hold me to that promise, if I don’t do it on time. I would first love to write about my life as a student activist before I write about the things I did as a ‘roadside’ journalist

Q. One looks at you sometimes and remembers Dele Giwa and his dogged approach to news reporting, something that eventually cost him his life. Are you not afraid of your life?

A. There is a point to which you get and you should never have to worry about your security. I have reached that point in my life. So many attempts have been made on my life already, I can conveniently say that everyday of my life is a borrowed day in life. On this latest trip to Lagos in December 2005, I was held at gunpoint by a bike-robber (Lagos Robbers who operate on Okada motorcycles), I was there in front of him with two of my friends arguing why I won’t be lying down on the street, because he wanted my money, until one of my friends created a distraction that enabled us to escape. This happened to me in full public glare, vehicles were passing by and they watched as we were held up with a silver gun that was conspicuous for all to see. There was street light. It was in front of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) near Agidingbi in Ikeja-Lagos, it was less than three minutes from the office of a major newspaper and about 25 yards from a police checkpoint. After we escaped that ordeal, I told myself once again that no one is safe in Nigeria, it doesn’t matter what you do, and such is the life of an average Nigerian citizen. It has no value really, our leaders treat us the same way an armed robber would treat us!

Q. Have you ever been arrested or detained in Nigeria over some of your stories?

A. I know that we may probably have been arrested or harassed or even killed for every single story we have written. But somehow, they don’t control the media spaces we use. They do threaten us with anonymous phone calls, they threaten to sue us. Once, they broke into my car in Brooklyn, my car windows were smashed. But, I am sure they know that those things don’t mean anything to me. Even, Ngozi Okonji- Iweala (the minister of finance) with her Harvard education was threatening us, saying that Nigerian SSS has contacted the FBI because we published her home address in one of our stories; you can bet she would have ordered our detention if we were within her jurisdiction!

Q. Do you have any role models?

A. I read about role models in primary and secondary schools in civics/history class. In the university, I had to fight each and everyone of them, part of what needs to change are those ideas of role models, our history celebrates crooks, we now know better.

Q. Finally, what are your dreams for Nigeria?

A. People who can’t sleep can’t dream, I would like to see a Nigeria after a revolution. Seriously, the world of dreams smacks of certain laziness that makes me think we are still on our knees waiting for answered prayers, it depicts a surreal life of something out of space. Dreams make me think of complacency, you don’t really need to go to sleep to know how you want Nigeria to be!

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John Lot August 15, 2010 - 9:04 pm

Thanks Uche Nworah for this great interview you made with Omoyele Sowore. Nothing is wrong with the Identity NIGERIA, but with people living within the geographical region called Nigeria. It all has to do with the mindset of the people when it comes to acquisition of wealth and governance. I am also an angry man when it comes to issue of Nigeria and Africa at large. Our poverty sydrome mentality when it comes to riches/wealth. Definitely, we still have honest people within Nigeria society. I use to say Nigerians need what i used to call PROGRESSIVE DICTATORS like Flt Lt JJ Rawlings and Thomas Sankara, Tunde Idiagbon. People that know what Discipline, Dignity, principles and moral Ethics means. My father use to tell me “IF YOU CAN’T JOIN THEIR THOUGHTLESS ACT THEN RETREAT AND TAKE YOUR UPRIGHT POSITION, BUT THERE IS A PRICE TO PAY.

Nigeria is a very complex issue, but i prayed that someday, we shall surely find someone that will bring corruption to minimum level. No Nation of the world can make zero level corruption eradication, because corruption is contagious like a ravaging cancer, but it must be put in check. And that one day Nigerian will take that political will NOT TO LOVE THEIR POCKET, BUT TO LOVE THEIR COUNTRY AT HEART.

Emeka (UK) May 30, 2009 - 2:49 pm

Rubbish! How can anyone write good things where it doesn’t exist? What a barmy suggestion! Mr Sowore has demonstrated by this, albeit a rather soft-touch interview, that he doesn’t live in a cloud cuckooland. How ever anyone could suggest that another should find positivity where it doesn’t really exist encapsulates the problem with Nigeria, (or should be Nigerians).

Joseph Kabikala April 7, 2009 - 10:35 am

Rich and revealing interview

Sincere Brillow January 11, 2008 - 9:50 am

Nothing can be greater in service than that being rendered by sowore to our nation.It is well with you,We are with you.

Thanks Uche.

mike January 13, 2006 - 3:00 pm

Mr. Chris abegi! I believe in sayoing the truth…Sowore claimed in this interview he does no wine and dine with corrupt politicians and their people, I am sure OBJ and his son fall in that category. I believed his claim until I read the Guardian, now I know he gets a ride from OBJ son…na waha! I have very low threshold for liars, I can officially brand this chap as one..apart from the lies that they used to tell on their elendu stuff!

Chris Aliche January 10, 2006 - 8:46 pm

The Gbenga Obasanjo story/interview is the best I have ever read in my entire life. Anyone can accuse Sowore of making it juicy or embellished or overcooked. There is genius in this fella that must be applauded. We wre yet to hear how the ride came about from Seme border, but the product from that ride is absolutely indepth and profound. It is bound to reverberate for a long time to come.

Going to Sowore's reason for leaving Elendureports.com, I think we should give to him that he worked very hard to bring information to our table on the shady deals of our leaders. He has a right to depart from Elendu if he doesn't want to continue.

To be honest, I can fathom the belligerence in Mike's voice on Sowore. It is rare for a Nigerian to meet someone of the caliber of Gbenga Obasanjo and not want to make money from that meeting quietly.

He has justified his principles publishing his encounter with Gbenga.

Kudos to Sowore!

mike January 10, 2006 - 10:12 am

This is an excerpt from the Guardian:

But the solicitors for Dr. Gbenga Obasanjo, in the letter to the news magazine, said that the story, "caused and continues to shock our client who states unequivocally that he did not grant the reporter, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, any interview as claimed or at all."

The lawyers added: "At no time did Mr. Sowore put questions to our client, which elicited the responses reported in the papers and The News Magazine.''

The solicitors said that Gbenga had ''politely but clearly declined to grant'' a request for an interview by Sowore, whom he gave a ride from Seme border to Lagos, sometime in December last year.

They added: "The unsolicited and unauthorised story is deeply regretted by our client and he regrets the embarrassment that this might have caused members of his family.''

They, therefore, requested the magazine to publish their letter as a rejoinder to the alleged interview and carry a retraction of the report ''with apology both to him (Gbenga) and his respectable father''.


This sounds very juicy Mr. Sowore : now can you cahut and say you don't dine and wine with the mighty OBJ son does not give me a ride..na wah oh! Plenty nonsense!

Yemi January 9, 2006 - 8:31 pm

Good readin. More of this

Posi Olatubosun January 9, 2006 - 8:24 pm

Mr. Omoyele Sowore has given meaning to real investigative journalism with his recent works. I only hope and pray that he continue this way. Meanwhile, there is so much rot in the Nigerian system that one wonders whether Nigeria is not an example of a failed state. But, let us not abandon leprosy, while attempting to find cure for ringworm. Though corruption seems to be deeply entrenched in governance in Nigeria, I believe that we would have taken a very significant step in curbing corruption the day we are able to conquer the art of rigging elections. It is corrupt elections sire bad leaders. As it is said in latin: 'ex turpi causa oritur non actio':any legal action arising from illegal action is also illegal.

'The moment we solve problems of the electoral system, the moment we are able to conduct elections, whereby a party in power can be defeated in a free and fair manner, whereby a man who has done something wrong can be thrown out by the people, then all this problems will simmer down. Look at what has happened in Kenya. The President wanted a particular constitution, but the people said no. they went for a referendum and they voted against the President. It was reflected in the votes. If we were to be able to do that kind of thing in Nigeria, then people who do not have money but have ideas can stand and win elections. Then, we can begin to find solutions to our problems. But in a situation where results of elections are known even before elections are held, it is a serious matter. It was the late Bala Usman who first said that electoral fraud is more fundamental than the question of stealing and looting. If we can vote leaders out without suffering any dire consequences, then we can say, we have begun. If we can solve the question of electoral problems, I think that will be a fundamental change in this country. What we have now is that everybody wants to be in the ruling party, there is a stampede to be there because if you are in the opposition, you have no chance.'

Sanya Adekunle January 9, 2006 - 5:48 pm

Eniola or whatever you called yourself in comment number 3, you were very well entitled to your opinion or beef or all of the above.

But your reference to me and some other Nigerians as brain dead was not only uncalled for but it also reflected the type of insanity ravaging the heads of intolerant bigots such as yourself!

How else can one drum it into the thick heads of ignorant, incorrigible guys like you that our nation is now a democracy with freedom of expression And this principle indeed applies to those of us in the U.S. which is the bastion of democracy and liberty. Must I kowtow your thoughts or the thinking of other individuals

We Nigerians should be able to disgree with each other without taking issues so personal and emotionally.

I don't know your age but your reckless use of words (new words to you, I guess) were nothing but an infantile exercise in childish tantrums…..haba!


Mike January 8, 2006 - 8:15 pm

You do not believe in the political process And then you think we should hail you WHich can of man is this I am ashamed to call you a Nigerian, but you should just stick to being in America, you traitor! When Thomas Jefferson and co ruled America, america was not perfect: women could not vote, black were routinely sold and lynched. Yet they particpated in the political process..even those of them that were anti-slavery. You are not a democrat!

Olubusayo M Oluwagbemi January 8, 2006 - 8:11 pm

I said it then, and I will say it again. I wrote the article on Elendu reports madness and the possible shennanigan of the writers and this interview proved I was right. Political consultancy For who MRD or PDP May be it is NCP! Give me a break, the bandwagon effect is over, and I personally will be too happy to bury the ghost of an insiodus past. And to the gnomes that talked about whopping, my article elcicited a balanced response from a very informed readership, and i am happy to do it then, and I will do it again. The project called Nigeria cannot be built by critics living inNew York, it can be built by people ready to position their country in a positive light and are ready to fight for what they believe in. Most Nigerians are just good critics, they act very badly. Refer to my articles on Personal Responsibility as well as the elenedu reports. Thank you.

Anonymous January 8, 2006 - 9:17 am

My respect to Sowore and the guys at Elendureports. They are able to source the stories that conventional journalists are unable to. It is a shame that Elendureports will be veering towards political opportunism.

I personally look forward to reading more of Sowore's work. He has matured a lot since our early days in Unilag. I am certain that the best is yet to come and will stay tuned.

Godwin Kwushue January 8, 2006 - 3:01 am

Thanks Uche Nworah for your interview with Omoyele Sowore, though Joe Elendu has not independently confirmed that he will be employing his web site for political consulting his continued silence in the face of such allegations from his former colleague may lead many and my humble self to comfortable concluded that Omoyele has said the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The genesis and history of Elendu reports remind me of these vices; dishonesty and treachery as veritable tool for achieving political goals and objectives. History is laden with examples where dishonesty and treachery has been positively employed for the benefit of a people and mankind. Federick De klerk of South Africa rose to prominence in his party because he was thought to be an ardent supporter of apartheid policy of south Africa of that era. He deceived evil men of his race, he played the hardliner in public, but in his heart he was very eager to consign apartheid to the dustbin of history. The culmination of his effort was the first democratically elected government in south Africa . The world recognized this selfless effort by awarding him the Nobel peace prize. De Klerk disappointed many of his party men to achieve his aim for his nation.

Closer home, the case of Ngige and Uba in Anambra state came to mind. Ngige visited every shrine dedicated to small gods he was invited to, to swear an oath that he will make the states till available to Chris Uba. Ngige was later to announce to the whole world that he recognized not Uba nor his shrine of small gods. There is no other word to describe Ngiges action than treacheries but Anambra state and her citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries

Much as one cannot confirm the veracity of the allegation of political consulting portfolio Joe Elendu has purportedly acquired one may still proceed to voice ones opinion on the matter without running the risk of being unfair to him since he has not taken any step to refute or debunk the allegation as the case may be.

Is it the case, that Joe Elendu used Mr Sowore to expose corrupt politicians in order to make himself relevant to their political survival Is it the case that he has used his activities on the world wide web to deceive Nigerians and readers the world over by misrepresenting his commitment to eradicating corruption in Nigeria as his political consulting effort may suggest Is this a case of a good boy gone bad or was this the game plan from day one Is Joe Elendu singing his own nunc dimitis Is this the beginning of the end for an effort that has created a window of opportunity for some of us to take a peep into the unedifying activities of our politicians

If the allegation made by Omoyele Sowore in his interview with Uche Nworah still remains unchallenged one may reasonably conclude that we are examining a case of treachery being employed for political goals in a selfish and most parochial manner. Can one man possibly serve God and Marmon at the same time As it is said, if you are for us you cannot be against us. Presumably our good friend has decided to pitch his tent with corrupt politicians through some policy of constructive engagement; it goes without saying that he will be speaking tongue in cheek henceforth in matters that germain to corrupt politicians.

Let me take this opportunity to thank Omoyele Sowore for being true to his conscience and the course, in the history of any battle there will always be a place for Villains and men of valor, you have shown uncommon strenght of character from your days at the university of Lagos. What you are witnessing is a case study on men with dual character, keep them at arms length in future

May I take this opportunity to advise anybody who may want to take to political consulting at this time when the issue of third term agenda is on the front burner, that this is the most dangerous time to do so because Nigerians will not hesitate to rubbish any opportunist as we did to their predecessors Nigerians made sure such characters had their political sun dimmed at noon day, but they now exist quietly in their respective home eating their humble bread having been stripped of their political relevance; they may now best be described as yesterdays men.

Godwin Kwushue.

Anonymous January 7, 2006 - 3:57 pm

we need more people like these in nigeria. Like he said inorder for there to be a change in Nigeria there has to be a revolution. I know one is coming, i just don't when.

Eniola January 7, 2006 - 3:08 pm

Sanya: Here comes the problem with the average braindead Nigerian. Nothing in this interview has anything to do with your deductions, except if you are the person who wrote that stupid article about Elendureports.com a little while ago. You may be looking for justifications because of the whupping you received.

However, it is important that you get this interview clearly. It speaks more to the rot in Nigeria than what elendureports did or did not do. Elendureports has done well, I believe they will continue to do well. Sowore's departure should be a wake up call. It wasn't flattering to see an informercial on "Donald Duke for President" on such a highly respected website a week ago. This stupid assumption in which people are castigated for speaking about the ills in Nigeria because there are ills in other places makes you look childish and of a vegetative mindset. So, because New York City Armed Robbers are worse than Nigerian armed robbers, no one should ever have to speak if they were mugged in Nigeria. Great sense of patrotism, I would say…

Learn, listen and look very well. In the meantime you can keep your broken record.

Uche Nworah, great interview and kudos for this!

Anonymous January 7, 2006 - 6:43 am

It isn't right to place Prof. Tam David-West in the same cloke as Lamidi Adesina as West has always worked in the interest of the nation , ousting wrong actions and diplomaticaly viing for better governance . He has appealed to Obasanjo's sanity , and the "human-rights greats like Soyinka and Gani" are yet to led the protest they led against a tamed dictator like Abacha . Look who is decieving who .

Sanya Adekunle January 6, 2006 - 6:11 pm

So, elendureports.com is a precursor to a future political consultancy afterall! Well—–well, the gentleman (can't remember his name now) who wrote a long time ago something about "The Orwellian Acitivist" is also right afterall.

In that article, the writer reminded us all about the antics of past activists, columnists, gadflies etc such as Lam Adesina, Ebenezer Babatope, Tam David West etc who were famous for their "aluta continua", slogans, self-righteous posturings and "wars" against every government.

But we all knew what those so-called activists and "holy angels" did when they finally got what they wanted in terms of public offices. They ended up being worse than the past leaders they were criticising.

It's therefore no surprise that elendureports.com has been used all this while to feather some selfish nests—–what a shame! Indeed, as someone once said, the gold fish has no hiding place!

As for Sowore, it's alright for him to project himself as some righteous soul. But he does not have to do it at the expense of our nation. He should, at least once in while, endeavor to see and write about the good things about Nigeria. Everything and everyone are NOT bad, for God's sake! If we are all bad, then, he too is bad!

For instance, he made a big deal about being attacked by armed robbers in Lagos when he visited last December—–please! He can stay on permanently in America if he like. But he should remember that America is not a state of utopia. And besides, there are more cases of mugging, armed robbery and murder in his adopted New York home than in Lagos. In fact, the stick-up artists, con artists, muggers and home invaders in New York are more daring, more vicious and more barbaric than all the armed robbers in Nigeria put together.


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