Pastor Tunde Bakare, Serving Overseer of Citadel Global Community Church, aka The Latter Rain Assembly, has been in the news lately, and sadly, for the wrong reasons. A few weeks ago he was at the Aso Rock villa to visit his political friend, President Buhari, who had been at the receiving end of his caustic tongue in recent time.
The meeting came after his 34 page Independence Day broadcast on the October 10, in which he railed about everything in his usual eclectic idealism, all full of sound and fury signifying nothing. The question is, how would a man he has not visited in three years, whom he has even vowed never to visit again, because he does not listen, suddenly thrown open his door and roll out the red carpet for him?
There is nothing wrong with visiting the president, and a friend, even if they disagree politically; after all they ran for the presidency of the country together in 2011. What is wrong about the visit is allowing himself to be used by the political enemy of his people to destroy their legitimate political aspirations.
We know that Pastor B, as we popularly call him, has lost out in his ambition to be president, which he admitted in the October 10 broadcast, but he should not play the dog in a manger: If I can’t get it, therefore, no other southerner should.
According to him, “it is a sign of our political immaturity and underdevelopment that where a person comes from should be used in determining who leads the nation; where the person comes from should not matter in electing the president. Rather, competence and merit should determine who leads the country…”
Last week, he added a spin to the gaffe, which, on hindsight, is like insult to injury. He said the south has to negotiate with the north for the presidency because the north controls all the levers of the state. That is really pedestrian. The north did not negotiate with the south to have power; so why should the south? Even with the total control of the state, the north cannot still withstand a united south. It is a no brainer.
Ordinarily, it should be the heart cry of every Nigerian in the search for the leadership of the country to base it on merit; but a cursory interrogation of this statement would expose the hypocrisy and vindictiveness behind the assertion. In fact it portrays him as politically naïve, uncritical, inordinately ambitious, and even, treacherous.
These things are not easy for me to say, because he was my ‘spiritual father’ for 12 formative years of my Christian life; it was also the best period of my church life. Indeed, even after leaving I still remained part of the church by regular visits, because, you can truly only have one father; and also I have so many friends you could not simply cut off. I was wedded in the church.
How has the mighty fallen? Pastor Bakare’s present position is at variance not only with what he has been known for, but also the reality about our country. He has betrayed many people, who had and still follow him and, therefore, should apologise to them, particularly his church members.
Several things have gone wrong with his person, politics, and ministry, and you do not have to be spiritual to know that. His ministry we leave to God, who called him, to judge; but his person and politics we will debate; after all he is a man of like passion, and his political leadership role makes him a subject for public scrutiny.
No great thing has ever been accomplished without ambition and the driving force of Pastor Bakare’s actions is ambition. Yet, the Bible says that inordinate ambition is a work of the flesh; and any man of God, who dabbles into secular ambition is an accident going somewhere to happen. Ambition, is desire, which leads to lust, and lust to sin and sin death. Only a thin line separates one from the other.
He has proved not to be a man of his words and convictions. He once told us that building massive camps and church auditoria is human ambition and ego-trip; today he has built the most expensive church building in Nigeria, which costs N18 billion.
He repeatedly says that he lives on ministry work only, and does not engage in business; there are several examples to the contrary. He also told us that most churches have become family businesses; latest feelers are that the CGCC has become another mum and pop shop.
He also said that God called him into ministry and not politics; that changed in 2008 when an Indian-born Malaysia-based preacher, Dr. Jonathan David, prophesied that he has a leadership role to play in the country – a prophecy I believed; but it did not necessarily mean partisan politics. However, it became the ‘bait of Macbeth’, who murdered King Duncan to fulfill the prophecy of witches.
He ran with Buhari for the presidency in 2011 and lost; then he became the Number 16, that is, the 16th president of Nigeria, which is after Buhari, who is 15 – a prophecy he said his mother saw, which most of his members believed. On October 10, he recanted and repudiated the claim he had spent the past five years declaring and the church praying for its manifestation.
Unknown to many Nigerians, Pastor Bakare was the master mind of the APC merger; he not only convinced Buhari to accept and go into it, but actually proposed the motion for the merger at the Eagle Square. He was also the convener of the Save Nigeria Group, SNG that mobilized opposition against former president Jonathan at Ojota, and irredeemably tarred him with corruption.
Virtually everybody, who was involved in bringing Buhari to power has abandoned him, except Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for obvious reasons. In the past two years, it seemed that Bakare was one of them; but the recent visit has also changed that like everything about him, which is really all relative and circumstantial.
Every building starts from the foundation, not from the roof. For Bakare to believe and argue that region is irrelevant for electing the president is not only embarrassing but shameful and tragic. How so? Why was it important in electing Buhari and now no longer matters?
Before the 2015 polls, Muritala Nyako, then governor of Adamawa state and the rest of them threatened that Nigeria would burn if power did not shift to the north. Where was Bakare then? Was it right then because it suited his political ambition as the Number 16; and now that it is no longer feasible, it is wrong?
Buhari was elected because he was perceived as a better and more competent leader; even former president Obasanjo said so. Can any Nigerian still say so today? Leading a nation is not about one person, but a team and the system; a great leader is only a function of the team around him. The tragedy of the Buhari presidency is the abject myopia and mediocrity of his team. Moreover, the Nigerian structure is built to fail.
A society that trades merit and competence for ascription and bigotry in appointment and leadership, as we have done since independence, will not go far; and the result is evident. If we want to enthrone merit, competence and performance in our leadership selection process, then we should go to the foundation and build up; it cannot start from the top.
Let us first abolish quota system, federal character, indigene-ship, and uphold resource control etc. Look at Buhari’s appointments in the past six years: are they based on merit and competence? Look at the inequity in VAT generation and distribution; it is a function of entitlement based on primordial considerations.
How do you define merit and competence? It is not subjective, but objective through experience or formal test. So let our prospective leaders take aptitude test to determine their competence and ensure merit. If merit were applied in selecting leaders, will Pastor Bakare qualify? Is running one man church, where your word is law, proof of competence?
Competence, for the north, is not based on objective test. Rather, it is the Maitama Sule ‘doctrine’ that the north is more suited to lead politically – the divine right to rule – and now democratically, because of their assumed superior population, as democracy is a game of numbers. What is the evidence of competence in the north more than the south? Are northern states better governed than those in the south?
So, the competence Bakare is talking about, like the Change, which the APC preached to us, is totally different from what the north means. Competence is about ability and performance, and these are practically demonstrable. Competence cannot be proved without objective evidence, whether intellectual, experience or practice.
If that is what the north means, and Bakare agrees, then Nigeria is ripe for greatness. But it is definitely not!