Tunde Bakare is calling for a “democratic revolution” in Nigeria and he says it is his destiny to lead it.
This was the core of his “state of the nation” address to members of his Latter Rain Assembly in Lagos on the 14th of January. In the nearly one-hour long speech, Bakare all but delivered a blistering vote of no confidence on the present administration’s merit for a second term, crushing Buhari’s reluctance towards restructuring and calling on Nigerians to begin the process that will “renegotiate our union”.
Pastor Bakare is no newcomer to public debate and does not shy away from controversy. He is one of the most recognized faces of what may be called civil society over the past decade in Nigeria, being instrumental with the ‘Save Nigeria Group’ of the January 2012 ‘Occupy Nigeria’ demonstrations over fuel subsidy removal and hike in prices. It can be loosely said that Bakare has shut down Nigeria before.
This January, Bakare has made the proclamation in his church that he received, from God, an assignment to “run for president”. When this became public, more than a few persons reacted with cynicism at what is considered to be the Lagos pastor’s propensity for national attention, a la Chris Okotie and the Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka of Enugu. He is not necessarily a national darling activist.
For many, Bakare’s record as running mate to Muhammadu Buhari in 2011 under the banner of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) precludes him from any moral rectitude on the state of Nigeria. For ever standing with the man who has now shown himself an insensitive, incompetent and impersonal leader and administrator, Pastor Bakare should only be preaching to himself. On the basis of Buhari’s performance over the past two and half years, the 65- year old pastor’s sense of judgement was terrible seven years ago and there is no reason to assume it has improved.
But Bakare wants to remind everyone that his journey and destiny for the soul of Nigeria did not begin with Buhari and that his mission to save Nigeria should be judged beyond the hasty marriage of 2011. A political antecedence stretching from a vision of his thirteen-year-old self-meeting with Yakubu Gowon and Chief Obafemi Awolowo in April 1967 cannot be judged on a failed presidential bid which later produced riots and the killings of young people.
There is more to me than that, and it will be revealed in due course, Bakare seems to be saying.
I AM RUNNING…
To be precise, the pastor puts his political agenda in the coming years as follows:
“The politician thinks of elections, while a statesman thinks of the next generation. I am indeed running, but not for elections; it is a race of destiny and the destination is certain.”
Framing his purpose in semblance with that served by the Lord Jesus Christ while on earth, Bakare says:
“To this end was I born, and for this purpose, I came into the world: To lead Nigeria into her prophetic destiny.” It will happen in due course, in God’s way, and in God’s time
…BY REVOLUTION OR BY RE-NEGOTIATION
But how would he lead if he does not present himself for and become chosen in an election? The pastor cites the case of the first United States president George Washington, the only one to have never been contested against by anyone, winning all votes in the Electoral College in his two terms. Washington was the leader of the revolutionary brigade and as such, was the natural choice and rallying point for president when it became time for the new country to have a leader.
Hence, when Bakare says it is his “destiny to shepherd this nation into her prophetic destiny, and the time is at hand”, he appears to be pointing to a time when there would be no other choice in Nigeria but himself, after all, obstacles to freedom have been overcome.
Bakare is going to do this by “neither flagging off an election campaign nor building political alliances”. It is not immediately clear how his ascent could follow the pattern of Gerald Ford’s after the first resignation of a US president in 1974. But by citing it too, he is pointing to the fact that the events of history are not always set in stone. Once in a while, a big accident happens and some unexpected persons benefit big from it.
Basically, the pastor’s conviction appears to be that what Nigeria needs at the moment is, not an election, but “a return to the drawing board to renegotiate our union”, from which he would probably emerge as “destiny’s child” favoured to lead the new nation.
WHY ANOTHER ELECTION WHEN BUHARI HAS FAILED?
“All around us are signs of retrogression,” Bakare says, rather spitefully of the tenure of the man whom he has at many times defended over the past six years. He accuses the Buhari administration of being responsible for plunging 16 million people into unemployment, a figure that is 10 million more than what was inherited in 2015.
And on the state of security, Buhari’s security agencies, including the DSS, are guilty of “deliberate sinful silence” over the killings being perpetrated by herdsmen in states in the Middle Belt and South East. Bakare blames this on the poor results of the “one-sided and incomprehensive legislations by state governments that lack the constitutional powers to provide security for their people”.
What compounds this failure of security more, in Bakare’s words, is Buhari’s entirely wrong posture towards the idea of restructuring. While agreeing with the need for “process reforms”, the pastor calls out the president’s naivety for assuming that “process reforms” could replace “foundational structural reforms”.
RESTRUCTURE NOW, RENEGOTIATE NOW, REVOLUTION NOW
Every other point made in Pastor Bakare’s address centred on these three themes. He called states “institutional and constitutional vegetables on life support from Abuja” while citing their inabilities to pay salaries. He decried the continuous exodus of “young men and women… leaving the shores of a country so rich yet so poor and are enslaved, prostituted and murdered in other lands”. He would not blame Nigerians for being impatient “because they are beginning to realise that fast-paced growth is possible when we get the fundamentals right. In those fundamentals lie the solution to herdsmen attacks and our myriad economic and socio-political problems.
It is a call to return to the foundations of our geopolitical structure; it is a call to renegotiate our union.”. To kickstart this, he suggests the creation of a ‘Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring’, a re-opening of the charter from the 2014 Confab, and a new constitution “adopted by the Nigerian people through a referendum, such that it can genuinely lay claim to the prefix, ‘We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…’”.
Bakare sets a ten-year timeline for changing Nigeria if what he asks (and we can assume, what God wants) is done. Reverting to six geo-economic zones is the “pragmatic” plan, he says, where every zone harnesses its “world class potentials” to the best it can be.