Sowore: Publisher Who's Site First To Call Nigerian Election For Buhari Sees Lessons For All Africa

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On March 31, a whole day before the official results of the Nigerian presidential election was announced, Saharareporters, the online news website, called the election in favor of challenger Muhammadu Buhari, declaring, "Saharareporters is confidently projecting Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of last weekend's presidential election based on collated poll results from 95 percent of Nigeria's polling units."

The news site has built a solid reputation for ground-breaking journalism in Nigeria and in Africa generally breaking several major stories.  It's founder, publisher, and driving force, Omoyele Sowore is unabashedly anti-dictatorship and a champion of grass-roots journalism.

We caught up with Sowore even as he's still wrapping up coverage of the Nigerian vote.


BSN: Briefly talk about the role of social media including Sahara Reporters' in this election.

Sowore: This election was the first Nigerian election than can be referred to as the "social media election". Right from the onset social media played a major role in helping to define candidates, campaigns and collation of the results and eventual announcement of the winner. Saharareporters was at the forefront of this massive new media coverage.

BSN: Were you surprised by the outcome?

Sowore: I wasn't surprised at all. President Jonathan lost the election before campaigns started. He faced massive rejection from all strata of the Nigerian society at the end he only managed to lose gallantly.

BSN: Sahara Reporters was the first outlet to call the election for Buhari. How were you able to confidently do this?

Sowore: As Saharareporters often does, innovatively, we had recruited over 3,000 citizen journalists for the election. At the end we had 7,000 people working round-the-clock on election days. Additionally we set up a team in Abuja and Lagos, we enjoyed massive support from a variety of people determined to make the elections a success.

BSN: Jonathan is being praised for his quick concession. Do you see this as an important lesson for Nigeria and for the rest of Africa?

Sowore: Jonathan had no option than to throw in the towel. He was handed a defeat and a disgrace; he couldn't afford further humiliation.

BSN: With this election has Nigeria finally emerged as a nation to be taken seriously on the world stage?

Sowore: It is not election alone that should be a big lesson to Africa.  Africans could also learn to be creatively assertive. However, I must say that whatever goes right in Nigeria will always have a strong impact on the rest Africa. Nigeria has been a big bad example for too long.



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