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LongRead… Pastor Bakare: Of bumbling permutations and fantasy rides to Aso Rock

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Nigeria’s cup is full, Tunde Bakare reacts to Olakunrin’s murder

Foes by day, friends at night

When Pastor Tunde Bakare, the Senior Pastor of Citadel Global Community Church, decided to pay President Muhammadu Buhari a visit at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on October 15, 2021, he must have forgotten that 82 days earlier, precisely on July 25, he had vowed never to visit the President or any politician again.

He must have also forgotten he had sworn that he had had enough of Buhari and nothing would make him take the President serious again as he had reneged on all the promises he had made before ascending to power.

But for Special Assistant on Media to President Buhari, Femi Adesina, who posted photos of Bakare’s secret visit to the Villa with the caption, “President Buhari receives Pastor Tunde Bakare in State House on 15th Oct, 2021,” Nigerians would not have known that the ‘fiery’ clergy had gone back on his words.

While making the vow in July, Bakare had told Buhari in a sermon in his church:
“I’m not interested in meeting you any longer; no more visits. Now, it is war because Nigeria must be set free. I dare you to come after me since that is the usual style now. You might have done it to others. You are about to learn a lesson if you touch me.
“If you know what I have done in secret, bring it to the open. I dare you to come after me if you can. I worked with you; I worked for you; I supported you to get there where you are today. When I talk now, I now have a smelly mouth.
“We must realise that what has given rise to agitations is lack of justice and equity. When there is justice, when there is equity, agitation will die down.”

Sermon on ‘common sense’

Shortly after the visit, Bakare granted an interview to ThisDay Newspaper and categorically said he doubted if the north would willingly give up power and as such, anyone who wanted to lead Nigeria in 2023 must go into negotiations with the north to have a smooth sail.

“The way our country is constituted right now, no matter who wants to lead this country, anyone that wants to lead this country right now will have to negotiate with the north and the north has a way of giving you the crown and holding the sceptre and if that’s going to change, our glorified death certificate called the Nigerian constitution must have to go through a rejig.

“I honestly will say, almost all the things that were going for the north in the days of Ahmadu Bello are no longer there. The textile industries where they dominated are not there anymore. The groundnut pyramids, etc. And what they have is what they hold. They have power.
“Nigeria is structured in such a way that no section can win an election by itself. The southerner cannot win an election without reaching out to the north and the northerner cannot win the election without reaching out to the south.”

Populism as joker

Pastor-Tunde-Bakare

Nigerians will not forget in a hurry what Pastor Bakare said on that July 25, when, during a sermon in his church, he had sworn never to visit Buhari again. He had declared a ‘war’ with the formation of a movement ‘Nigeria-For-Nigerians,’ which he said would sweep away the ineffective government of the Nigerian leader.

“Somebody say, ‘Nigeria-for-Nigerians movement.’ I’m letting you know it’s about to start. I’m going to champion it. It’s going to go like wildfire across this nation. Nigeria-for-Nigerians. It will be bigger than ‘Save Nigeria Group’. You have never seen anything like it before. It’s a movement propelled by God. Nigeria-for-Nigerians to deliver us from the hands of oppressors, in the matching name of Jesus days.
“This is a fight to finish. I’m not going to die for this country, I’m going to live for it. Nigeria will prosper in my lifetime. Nigeria will be saved. Nigeria will be saved. Nigeria will become great. It is the wicked that the land will vomit. In the name of Jesus.
“Somebody say, War!!! Nigeria for Nigeria movement!!! In the name of Jesus.”

‘Aluta’ with(out) spine

For Atiku to win in 2019, PDP must ‘show repentance for the years of the locust they engineered’— Bakare

A week later, precisely on August 1, Pastor Tunde Bakare recanted by tendering an apology to Buhari on the ’war’ statement he had made, after the Presidency, through the ubiquitous Garba Lawal, had threatened to ‘expose’ him.

“Mr. President, this is not about you. Let no one deceive you. It isn’t about you. It’s about 200 million people whose lives are at risk, who have been kidnapped, whose wives and daughters are being raped and who have been devastated. It’s not about you.

“So, when I said this is war last Sunday, let me explain myself, because they can come and plant weapons in my house and say we found arms and ammunition in his house. You’ll be wasting your time. All that I have in my house is a knife and a fork, to eat my yam. Do you understand me? The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, they’re not man-made. They are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Do you understand me?
“When I declared war last Sunday, it was against the wicked. It was against those perverting justice in our land. Their days are numbered.”

The fearless tiger of a week earlier had turned jelly a week later, leaving the teeming horde of Nigerians who were eager to sign on for the ‘Nigeria-For-Nigerians’ stranded. The ‘War Commander’ had, once again, done a back flip, leaving them in the lurch.

Audacity of courage

Nigeria's cup is full, Tunde Bakare reacts to Olakunrin's murder

As early as 2018, Pastor Bakare had described the Buhari administration as a failed government lacking in any form of ideas in terms of protecting Nigerians and making the lives of Nigerians better than he met it.

In an interview on April 14, 2018, at the 2nd Annual Chibok Girls lecture organised by the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement in Abuja, Bakare had lampooned the Buhari administration as not doing enough to prevent Boko Haram abductions of school children.

“There is something wrong when a nation is twice beaten. There is something undeniably wrong when the girl child repeatedly becomes the bargaining instrument in negotiation deals between the government and terrorists.
“Let me ask this question, has this government handled the issue of the Chibok kidnap well? Any government that fails to prioritise the security and welfare of its people is a failed government, whether that of Jonathan or Buhari.”

Also in May 2018, Bakare once again took on Buhari when he said the President would blame himself for allowing a cabal to mess up with his government.

In an interaction with journalists after a church service, Bakare said Buhari had allowed himself to be “misguided by certain members of the political class who have restricted him from taking decisive action on national issues.”

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“If a 70-something year old man is saying ‘there are people that are teleguiding me’, he will have himself to blame at the end of the day because nobody voted for the cabal and nobody trusted the cabal.
“I do not know who that strong cabal is… but if someone truly has the interest of this nation in his heart like he has claimed a number of times, then some of the misgivings should have been corrected. If there is any cabal there, then he has lost his power.
“So if you (Buhari) allow the cabal make a mess of this administration and this government, at the end of the day, the buck ends on his table.”

Again in April 2021, while Nigerians celebrated Easter, Bakare once again, hit on Buhari over the insecurity and economic situation in the country, giving a damning verdict over the situation of things.

He had said, “I am compelled to speak out because the state of the nation does not represent the Buhari I knew when we took that solemn journey towards rebuilding Nigeria. I am compelled to speak out at this point because, given the state of the nation, the legacy of President Muhammadu Buhari is in grave danger of being confined to an unsavoury side of history. I am indeed compelled to speak out because Nigeria is in a state of emergency over a series of security challenges ranging from terrorism to banditry, kidnapping to militancy, cultism to human trafficking among several others.

“In the two years left of this administration, the president needs to make an executive decision to approach the restructuring question from a three-pronged perspective targeted at his administration’s three-point agenda, namely: Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption.”

Not letting up

Pastor Bakare says Nigeria is sick

In February 2021, Pastor Bakare took a swipe at President Buhari, saying Nigerians have been grossly disappointed with his government, insisting that power has changed the Buhari he used to know.

Speaking with the publisher of Ovation International Magazine, Dele Momodu, in a virtual interview on Instagram, Bakare said the drum of disintegration in the country “is louder than before”, and called for efforts to preserve the country’s unity.

“Power changes people. Has power changed him (Buhari) or is he making the best of the situation or the circumstances he has found himself in? He will be the one to answer that question.
“As far as I know, the expectations of Nigerians, including the gentleman interviewing me, and everyone who rose up at that time to say we need a breath of fresh air by bringing in President Buhari, I think whatever it is, the expectations have not been met and, therefore, there is a gut feeling of disappointment everywhere.
“We are the government. The citizens have the right to demand good governance and nothing can stop that. People deserve the government they get, and the government deserves the kind of people that support them, or say ‘no, we can’t take this anymore.
“Nigeria will survive and will become the Nigeria of our dreams but right now, things are not together, especially with the drum of disintegration which is louder than before,” he said.

While speaking during an interview with Channels Television on August 24, 2021, Bakare took a swipe at the Buhari administration, saying he was terribly shocked at the gross failure in the administration.

The former vice-presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) posited that the country was at the precipice and that “many things currently happening in the country have not been seen before.”

“This is not the Nigeria we envisioned not only as young people but in recent past. It is as if we are again at the precipice but Nigeria has a way of bouncing back; we are full of hope that God Almighty will help us. We are in a very perplexing situation as a nation. Many things that we didn’t see before are happening now.
“I like to use my own words. Failure will look, ‘like try again’, you can still do something with it. I once failed an examination in mathematics. In 1973, I sat for exam and I got what we called inverted six, which is nine in mathematics but I met a friend of mine, who is late now, Ahmed Abebefe, who was a genius in mathematics in secondary school but his English was terrible. I was very good in English… Yes, there is gross failure, it is apparent to everyone but you can fail forward,” he said.

Assessing the Buhari’s administration in the past six years, Bakare compared the regime to a six-year-old child who is still crawling despite all the care and attention given to it by the parents.

“A six-year-old child that is still crawling has problems. You want to examine or call the doctors to come in or a pediatrician, you say that this child was given birth to six years ago but it is crawling, just moving on its buttocks, not running, not walking, something is wrong. If we are going to assess, we need a serious political medicare. There is no problem that is devoid of solutions,” he had said.

Only recently, on October 10, 2021, while speaking at his church service, Bakare said the constitution should be replaced if the country wants to achieve greatness.

“I am persuaded, as are many fellow compatriots within and outside the shores of Nigeria, that the 1999 constitution, whether as amended or to be further amended by the national assembly, is nothing more than a glorified death certificate.
“Let us borrow a leaf from recent world history. Once upon a time, the Berlin wall separated eastern Germany from western Germany, until president Ronald Reagan, in his indomitable manner, spoke lucidly on live television to the president of the then Soviet Union. He said, ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this world’. Mr Gorbachev eventually did and Germany is better off for it today.
“In the same spirit, I say to President Muhammadu Buhari, ‘Stop passing the ball to the National Assembly. Tear down this inhibiting concoction of a constitution; tear it down so that we can build a truly great nation.
“This is one enduring legacy your administration can still secure before your time in power draws to a close. If you do, present and unborn generations of Nigerians will remember you for it and write your name in gold when the history of this period is written. If you don’t, history will record that you failed to rise to the occasion and you squandered a great opportunity.”

Bumbling permutations

A master of permutations, Pastor Tunde Bakare had, at various times, claimed to be Nigeria’s next president after Buhari ends his tenure. In January 2019, he had said in an interview that Buhari who is Nigeria’s 15th president, would hand over to him (Bakare) which would make him the 16th president of Nigeria.

“As far as politics is concerned, it is not over truly; you would find out that I shifted gear in the year 2018, I did what I have never done before.
“I told Mr. President because I don’t want to be misunderstood, because these things are being aired all over the world. I said Mr. President, I am building a political family for future political aspirations; you’re number 15, I’d be number 16.”

A messiah in waiting?
Despite his steadfast criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari and his leadership style, Pastor Tunde Bakare would have to walk his talk to convince Nigerians that he is, indeed, focused on leading fundamental democratic assault on Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power.

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