SOME people refer to him as a gadfly. Others call him a rabble-rouser, Â but certainly Pastor Tunde Bakare is a gospel preacher nobody can ignore. At least not any more. His recent foray into the civil rights advocacy is not surprising to many admirers. Some even say, that is what he had always been—a religious cum social crusader. Trained as a lawyer, Bakare, like the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, has virulently attacked every government in power and in return had his travelling documents impounded several times. In this interview at a function in Lagos, he spoke on several national issues… Excerpts.
By Sam Eyoboka
What do you have to say about the present political state of the nation?
Well thank God, due to the black market arrangement of the National Assembly, we have now an arrangee acting president, and that has stabilized the ship of the state a little on the high sea. We just trust that it will be regularized if indeed and in truth, President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua is back and is recuperating.
The same way they signed the budget they should just sign a letter to regularize that, if not the acting president is sitting on a keg of gunpowder that could explode at any time, because one of the agents of this explosion or implosion has filed an action in court challenging the way and manner he was made an acting president.
And if they pursue the case you never can tell, one Abuja court that will sit at 12 midnight and pass a judgment and weâ€™ll be back to the days of Ernest Shonekan and ING. If that happens, he will revert to the office of the vice president and then weâ€™ll wait for delegated instructions from an invincible president. Thatâ€™s the first dilemma.
But we are insisting that the Executive Council of the Federation should fulfill the provision of Section 144. They should invoke it, activate it and fulfill it, namely to set up a medical panel to determine the fitness and the competence and capability of the president or otherwise to continue to administer the nation. If heâ€™s recuperating, itâ€™s okay to have an acting president. If heâ€™s incapacitated and cannot continue, then they should fulfill the requirements of that section and make Dr. Jonathan Goodluck the substantive president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.
If you donâ€™t do that, if by any means heâ€™s knocked out, or like theyâ€™re pursuing at the Supreme Court now to nullify the election that brought the two of them to power, then youâ€™re now ready for all kinds of atrocities because weâ€™ll be left with Senate President David Mark who would have to conduct elections in three months. That in itself is a time bomb. But we trust God that weâ€™ll walk through these landmines. All the challenges of the acting president not being able to get two third majorities within the executive council among ministers to invoke section 144, he might have to use some of his powers at his disposal to make them see the reason to salvage the ship before we get to shipwreck. Otherwise we are playing with what could backfire on the entire nation.
Nigeria is plagued with so much problem-corruption, leadership crisis, violent religious riots, tribalism and what have you. Is there a spiritual dimension to it all?
Thereâ€™s no problem on Planet Earth that cannot be dated to the fall of man. Adam sold out to Satan who became the god of this age. The only people that can checkmate him are the Christians and some of them are holed up in their religious cocoons, not knowing that as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, they must come out to purge the skies, to take up spiritual powers, to execute the judgment that is written, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters. God had come down, so heâ€™s not coming down anymore. The Word became flesh in Christ Jesus, Satan is already here. But if the greater one in deed and in truth dwells in believers, then let all Christians rise and salvage their nation.
Yes thereâ€™s a spiritual angle to our problems. Thereâ€™s also a human angle, because you mentioned corruption and all kinds of things. The moment your brother becomes a commissioner or a local government chairman, you expect him to bring somethings to you. Nigerians are aiding and abetting corruption also. Until the people rise up to say no. Before your brother was appointed minister, he was on N30,000 a month, all of a sudden he has five houses in Abuja, he has five houses in Lekki and exotic cars are parked in his compounds, and youâ€™re pleading with him to give you one of the choice cars. You didnâ€™t ask questions; youâ€™re not a washer man where are you getting these clothes from? But we all aid and abet them and actually weâ€™re envious of them, so corruption continues.
Is there any biblical backing to the protests being carried out by your group, the Save Nigeria Group?
Well, I wrote a whole memo and a pamphlet on that Understanding why we march, it’s also on the internet- the march to save Nigeria. And I can assure you, even Jesus himself marched on the streets and Godâ€™s prophets were commanded to march the streets; if you check your Bible. Because if the streets are not safe we are already in perilous times, I wonâ€™t do anything that is not scriptural. Iâ€™m not an activist or an agitator; Iâ€™m not agitating for anything. Iâ€™m stirring up the spirit of the nation. Iâ€™m de-freezing social mobility, and by the grace of God alongside other leaders in the Save Nigeria Group we are unblocking the minds of Nigerians, restoring the voice back to the voiceless because we are not supposed to be their voice. Everyman should have his own voice. And we want to insist on electoral reforms, so that the brightest and the best among us can take on the saddle of leadership instead of the worst of us ruining our country under the pretence that they are running it, so that the rest of us can continue to suffer.
Why do you think these religious crises persist in our country?
All the religious crises are to dominate an environment. Itâ€™s rooted in wanting to impose a particular lifestyle or religious view on others and those behind it know themselves. You also know, they have a reason. Prince Bola Ajibola cried out the other time that behind the crises in Jos, Plateau state, hold IBB responsible for creating the local government; he did in order to pave way for all he wanted to do.
Itâ€™s already in public domain. Look, the people donâ€™t know what to do thatâ€™s why the crises has persisted. If they would summon courage to go to the governor, the deputy governor, chief judge and every key operator who had kept quiet, by the time their own people are slaughtered also, there will be balance of terror. Because if youâ€™re there to administer justice and youâ€™re not doing it, if youâ€™re there to ensure security and youâ€™re not doing it and people are being killed and you donâ€™t come to address them, you should not be in power.
Are you holding the governor responsible for what is happening?
Heâ€™s part of the problem, if heâ€™s not part of the solution.