What does Tunde Bakare mean by his “next in line statement”?

by Alexander O. Onukwue

If things had worked out for him, Pastor Tunde Bakare would probably be “next in line right” right now.

In an address on Sunday to his congregation, Bakare appeared to fire shots towards the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, citing his “show-offs to register performances and outdo benefactors”. He did not mention Osinbajo by name, but his insinuation that “the next in line does not translate automatically to the next king” could only have been a reference to one person, in the context of the present political situation in Nigeria.

Bakare, the serving overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, a Church in Lagos, was the Vice Presidential candidate and running mate to Muhammadu Buhari in the 2011 Presidential elections under the banner of the CPC.

For the second time this year 2017, Vice President Osinabjo has been in the capacity of Acting President. In this role, he has confirmed a Chief Justice, signed Executive Orders and signed the Budget into law. These are beside the numerous visits to several parts of the country, as well as consulting with leaders of the North and South on the sensitive matters of the existence of the Nigerian State and Security of citizens.

Indeed, Osinbajo has, to every observer, done the job of a President as good as anyone could be expected to, though not without persisting areas of flaw. He has not been the reclusive, afraid-to-offend Acting President some may have wanted him to be, choosing rather to go about his business like one who has taken an oath of allegiance. However, there has not been anything in his speeches or actions so far to substantiate any perception that the man is reaching for the power. If anything, he appears to be power shy.

The Acting President has maintained his loyalty to President Buhari, with the Presidency being sure to emphasise the President’s involvement in the major decisions that are taken by Osinbajo. In any case, the Nigerian Constitution does make it clear on the process of deciding what happens next should President Buhari prove unable to continue in his capacity as the President.

Unless Tunde Bakare has a different interpretation of the Nigeria Constitution, his attempt to tentatively preempt the procedure for succession does not seem to hold water. Then again, what does he mean by “automatically”? Does he envisage an interregnum from a cabal, or the military? Would he be in support of a coup that interrupts the democratic dispensation that Nigeria has had for the past 18 years?

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