Pastor Tunde Bakare is the Serving Overseer of Citadel Global Community Church, Lagos and a former Vice Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). In this interview on Channels Television monitored by ANAYO EZEGWU, he speaks about the state of the nation and what lies ahead
What do you make of the state of the nation right now, ahead of the 2023 elections?
Well, thank you so much. Other than trusting God and keeping hope alive, 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. So, we are full of hopes that God Almighty would help us. Many things that we didn’t see before are happening now and even the President himself said so.
He said nothing worrisome bothers him like what is happening in the North-West, especially the banditry and kidnapping. There might have been a sporadic occurrence here and there in the past but now, it is coming with super rapidity that you are not even sure of your own personal security or safety. And travelling now, thank God for COVID-19, we don’t want it to stay but it kind of keeps people at home. It is horrible.
Are you surprised about what is happening, considering your insight into how this government came into being and what we are seeing today?
Surprise would be a good thing for me. When someone asks are you surprised? I always like to use my own words, I’m not very surprised but I’m terribly shocked about the things that are happening. I never envisaged it.
We were full of hopes and we put everything that we had by the grace of God and not just me; we worked to ensure that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would win this election with a promise of change. Nigerians were very hopeful; I was but you see God knows tomorrow and we can put our hands in His hands and ask Him to help us out of our present dilemma.
For some reasons, you hoped for a better Nigeria but that hope is not what you are seeing right now. How does that make you feel?
Well, it’s very straightforward and I talk straight from the Scriptures that hope deferred makes the heart sick, and when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. It is as if this hope has been so deferred that it makes one’s heart sick but we still believe that Jesus is the healer.
The nation also has a soul that has been traumatised and dented in so many ways. The psyche of this nation has been badly bruised by the occurrences all around us- East, West, North and South of our country. And God forbid that we would become a pariah nation again.
You and some of your friends helped the APC because you trusted the person of President Buhari for example. Is that trust still there as we speak?
One, the Bible says we should not trust in the arms of flesh or put our trust in riches. The only person you can trust absolutely is God Almighty because the arms of flesh will fail.
The best of men are still men at the very best. In all his utterances, especially when he granted the recent interview on the few occasions he has spoken to this nation, he was overwhelmed by the things happening and so, a tree does not make a forest. If I were in his shoes and I’m not the President and I’m not suggesting anything or trying to fly a kite out there.
I would try other things if what I have been doing doesn’t work. It might be another time to look out for those who could really deliver instead of the doldrums we have been going around about dismounting for eight years.
Something needs to be done if he is mindful of his legacy and that has been my cry. If there is going to be an outstanding, enduring legacy that cannot be easily erased or rubbished, something needs to be done very soon.
Whatever it is, they must sit down and put on their thinking cap and say look we cannot let it continue this way. In
terms of assessment right now, you either assess a failure as a work in progress or as a pass. How would you describe the situation in the last six years?
A six-year-old child that is still crawling has problems. You would want to examine and call the doctors to come in, a paediatrician and say this child was given birth to six years ago but he has been crawling; he is not running or walking.
Something is wrong. So, if we are going to assess, we need serious political medicare. There is no problem that is devoid of solutions. Human beings are given authority and dominion. We are supposed to be answers to problems and solutions to crises we are in. If you get the right team, the right people, who are doing the right things at the right time, there will be results.
Would you say it is a failure in the last six years?
I would like to use my own words. Failure would look like a try again and you can still do something from what you did. I once failed an exam, Mathematics. In 1973, I sat for exams and I got what we call 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 at English. I won the Nigerian Red Cross Award because I could speak English back then.
My English now needs to be improved upon. I called him aside and said Ahmed, he said ‘yes’. I said ‘your English is bad, my Mathematics is worse, give me three days in a week after school and I will give you two days and we can help each other by cross-fertilizing ideas.’ Do you know the end product?
You can check WAEC. I still have my results. There is nothing to hide. I scored a C5 in Mathematics and Ahmed Abebefe scored We can help ourselves. Yes, there is a gross failure. It is apparent to everyone but you can fail forward.
Is this the same Buhari you ran with as running mate that we have right now?
I don’t understand your question because I chat with the President almost every month and every other month since he became the President of this country, and I’m not seeing any change in mental capacity. I have said that to people who believe he must be another Buhari. It is the same person.
The question I am asking is this: is this the same person you trusted that is on right now and I’m going to give a premise because it does look like your relationship with him has fallen apart?
Who said that?
You said that you loved him; you respected him but was he the same person you were referring to in one of your sermons a few weeks ago?
That is your own interpretation of what I said. I said I served; I respected and loved him but I would not keep quiet and let things fall apart. You do not sacrifice truth on the altar of friendship. Any friendship that ends never started. So, don’t think that there is a crisis or we are not talking or we are not seeing each other. No, it is not like that but I have to cry out in pain. He is not unaware of all these things that are happening around him. But you also said that you are not
afraid that if he comes in your way in the manner in which you spoke, it does look as if there is a tendency that they come after anybody who speaks out?
Let me tell you what led to that particular statement. It was horrifying to me to live in a country, where security men would invade the home of a private citizen, who has not been charged for any crime and they will kill people and drag the body of those people on the floor.
That should not happen to any citizen and I don’t think it was President Buhari who went into that place to do it. I was talking to those people. This is a civilised world. Except you are in an animal kingdom, you don’t do that.
Where is the place of rule of law? If someone has done something wrong, arrest him, prosecute him but don’t invade his privacy in the dead of the night and kill people and damage the house. Look, I’m not in support of any secessionist move.
We are better off together but in a free and fair environment where citizens’ rights are protected. Nobody is above the law. With due respect, I would say not even the President of a nation is above the law and if they have immunity today, what about tomorrow? How many Presidents from Europe or elsewhere in Africa have ended up at the International Criminal Court? That was my concern. And those who could do that in the dead of the night can do it to any citizen. So, I was addressing them directly.
Not necessarily President Buhari…?
President Buhari did not go into the home of that person. Did he?
But your relationship with him is still intact?
You are looking from outside; you are not seeing inside. Even if friends, best friends disagree and fight between themselves, that does not bring an end to their friendship. I believe you are married and you have children. Have you disagreed with your wife, and did that lead to divorce? You can disagree with friends because you disagree to agree. You do not agree to disagree.
Is it possible that you have spoken to him afterwards?
He travelled and he just came back. He travelled to the UK and I spoke on July 25 about the sermon you are talking about and he left on the 26th and he came back on Friday. I just returned from Abuja on Friday and if you want me to show you proof, I can show you an invitation card to his son’s wedding.
You gave as much detail as your conversation with him in the bed and what God told you. What is God telling you now?
You want me to repeat everything I have said before? Do you have all the time?
…may be the most important part of it?
President Buhari stood in public. I was his running mate. He wept and I wept and said ‘this is the last time I will offer myself for any public service in the country’ and we lost that election. And then, God visited me in a powerful vision and I realised that I must still come back.
So, I went over to him in the UK and said: ‘Mr. President or Your Excellency, this is what the Lord has told me. You need to come back but we must have merger before the election.’ I took two people with me and they are still alive and he said no, I have given my word to the public that I will never offer myself again.
But I said ‘you are not King Herod who said I have spoken,’ therefore, John the Baptist must be beheaded; let us do the right thing first. If there is a merger, we will win this election, but he said, ‘I don’t see how you can work out the merger. Go and work it out.’ When it was too much, he said ‘okay, I will see what I will do.’
And we ran here and there and called those who could influence; those who held political power, especially in the South- West and we were able to influence that change.
It was a privilege to move the motion for the merger of ACN, CPC and ANPP at the Eagles Square and after that, when three-four legacy parties came together, it was not reasonable for the same CPC to produce both the presidential candidate and the running mate.
And I said look, I will be in the background and I will be supporting every way and every manner I could. God knows I have given my best to this administration and to this nation. And I will continue to do so in the days to come because there is no other country I can call my own.
Can we have the privilege today to hear what God has told you about the nearest future?
Yes, you do.
Can you give us an insight into what God has told you …?
In the vision that I saw that led me to go and tell him you are coming back- in that vision, we were in a vehicle and we were going towards the South-West to meet the political elders in order to forge a merger and we got to a very stiff slop and he packed the vehicle that way and came down and said, ‘I would like to ease myself and I will join you soon.’
When he left, I spoke to the two people behind me, one is late now, that is Yinka Odumakin and the other person is Nasir El-Rufai and I said, ‘where we are is dangerous; let me repack this vehicle as we wait for him.’ And I went to the driver’s seat and behold, there was no steering; no ignition key; no gearbox; no pedals; no hand brake.
He took everything down with him and I came to myself and said there is still something for this man to do to move the vehicle of this nation forward. And when all the things began and all we are seeing are nepotism and lopsided appointments and all kinds of things.
Those who could influence change tried their best. Let me tell you this, I have confidence in God that every power that was taken down are replaceable because the engine is still intact. That is my hope.
For those who are thinking that this is much like a proverb to them, can you break it down with clarity of mind and focus on what exactly the future holds of Nigeria?
Nigeria is bigger than any individual. Eight years looks like a long time but it is coming to an end. Nigeria is bigger than all of us and you will do your part and I will do my part. Look a recent social poll that we did in the last 10 or more years, over 30 million Nigerians who are of voting age have not voted. We need to break that logjam.
By the grace of God, break the voter’s apathy and let Nigerians see a better future for ourselves and paint a picture that is actionable. And reach out to them and say let us arise and rebuild our nation even if we have to start from the ancient ones.
So there are cabals and hands behind the power?
I don’t care if you call them cabal because they mean nothing to me. They can do all the evil they are doing against 200 million Nigerians, who are losing hope, who are fleeing their country going to other countries and who are fleeing their father’s lands because of those who are coming there to kill them.
There is a God of justice, who will not let them also lay down in peace because he who kills by sword, shall be killed by the sword and he who leads to capacity shall be led into capacity. This is the faith and patience of the saints in God. We have confidence in God that there will be justice.
There have been worse situations in time past; there have been warlords who thought that they were in charge of Nigeria. Look, as long as you continue to learn from the past, you are better prepared for the future you do not know. Those who do not learn from history ultimately would become history.
You seem to be very irritated by the activities of these people whom I described as cabal or hands behind the power. Have you warned President Buhari about this set of people?
You just need one rotten apple to destroy a whole apple cart. It would be self-deceiving even of Mr. President to think that everyone around him is doing what is expected. People don’t do what you expect, they do what you inspect. The buck ends on his table. It stops there. Tomorrow, they are not going to blame anyone who did something wrong, they are going to say Buhari’s administration.
So what are you telling President Buhari today?
Wake up and smell the coffee.
Let’s talk about the new movement which you said you will lead and what would that movement be called?
There are two sides to the same coin. The first time I spoke about it,
I said Nigerians for Nigeria. It is an appeal to those who are in the Diaspora to remember their country. Like the Psalm said by the Rivers of Babylon, where we sat down and there we wept when we remember Zion. And those who kept us in capacity, they said we should sing them the song of Zion. How can we sing them the song of the Lord in a strange land?
And it says if I forget you Jerusalem let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth. I have gone to those in the Diaspora- North America, Australia and Europe to stir them up that Nigeria needs you. You have come here to learn what works; let us begin to think of bringing it back home to fix our country because don’t expect the powers that be in the Western world to fix Nigeria. It would take Nigerians to fix Nigeria.
That is the first time I spoke about it. The second time is Nigeria for Nigerians which is a different ball game. The profit of the land in Ecclesiastes 5:9 ‘The profit of the land is for all and even the king himself would serve from the field.’
So, we are talking about those in the Diaspora and those at home to rise up and fix this nation for the benefit of generations that are losing hope now and for the benefit of those who are yet to be born because this is not the Nigeria that served us and provided for us.
If not for free education in the western region that began a year before I was born, I probably would not have gone to school.
This movement you are talking about, would it be like the Save Nigeria Movement in a similar manner?
No, it is totally different. We are not marching in the streets and it is not against the government but the people of this country would rise and they would demand what is theirs. We don’t have to march the streets but you will see what will happen. Let’s keep hope alive. We will soon roll.
When are you rolling out?
I will let you know.
Would this lead to a political party?
It can lead to anything that would save Nigeria. It can lead to anything and we can use the existing platforms and we can create our own. But a mighty arm is about to rise from the valley of dry bones if you have ever read Ezekiel 37.
The whole place is going to get up and rise and demand what is right. And the Lord is going to look for the best of the North and the best of the South according to Ezekiel 37 to come and stir the affairs of this nation. This boat must not sink.
Would you be running for President?
I’m a free citizen and I can run for anything. When that time comes, the whole world will know. I’m a free citizen. Nothing stops me and there is nothing that can say you can’t run for this office or you can’t run for that. And I respect other peoples’ right also to rise and run.
Right now, that is not my immediate focus. My immediate focus is if there is no nation to preside over, so what are you running for except you what to run out of the country.
How would you describe the person you think should be Nigeria’s next President?
One who loves this nation truly and one who is not going there for what he can eat. One who is not going there just to corner resources or any position for his own people and one who is going to look for the best of the North and the best of the South, let those who have the capacity and have proved it in their own private capacity, who have done something with their lives, let them be the ones that would be assembled to say it is time to build.
As Nehemiah did, he assembled the nobles and said the walls were broken down, the gates are burnt, ‘let’s rise and build.’ It will take such a person that loves this country because anyone plunging the election in 2023 is just plunging his head into hot water. Therefore, you must go with a team and not go alone.
When that time happens, you will see what is going to happen. Very shortly, you will see the formidable team that we are presenting to the nation like a shadow cabinet that these are the men that would do it.
We are meeting right now and they don’t even understand what is about to hit the nation a big time in a positive manner. Not working about the streets, damaging cars and burning down what is left.
So you have a list of those you have in mind already?
Not who I have in mind but who I know