By Clem Aguiyi
In writing this opinion, let me be clear that I have nothing personal against Pastor Tunde Bakare. He is someone I hold dear to my heart. It was in his church, Later Rain Assembly, that I answered the altar call in 1992.
Bakare is a fine preacher of the word and perhaps one of the finest around. I can only compare him to the Late Archbishop Benson Idahosa when in his element. He commands and eats the words. However, on politics, he is a gaffe-ball. In 1999, he rattled the nation when he predicted that the newly elected President Obasanjo would die before his inauguration. Not only did Obasanjo lived to be sworn-in, he was twice sworn-in as President.
Again, Bakare predicted that the Holy Spirit told him that President Buhari would hand over to him in 2019. Well, that didn’t happen. Buhari is still with us. Now that he has shifted his gaze to 2023, let’s keep our fingers crossed because his upper and lower lips are saying many different things.
Very recently, he turned his altar into a public relations rostrum in an effort to dress up Bola Ahmed Tinubu ahead of 2023. Tinubu, he said, was most suitable to succeed President Buhari. I admire Tinubu, I like his audacity. I like people with rough and humble beginning. There is nothing wrong with rising from grass to grace. Tinubu can be president. But he is now a kingmaker who shouldn’t become king. In the interest of peace, justice and equity, he should concede 2023 to the South East.
No one should pretend that all is well with Nigeria. The country has radically changed and is moving in an ugly direction. It has met all the criteria of a failed state due to failure of leadership. President Buhari has, so far, failed woefully as a leader and Bola Tinubu the prophet that didn’t believe in his own prophecy knowingly brought Buhari upon us. What has happened to Nigeria in the last six years is ugly and I think it’s the job of any sensible person to refute and reject the continuation of the current nightmare and adopt a better alternative, hence Tinubu must take responsibility for the embarrassing failure of this administration.
Bakare said he loves the Igbo and will love to see an Igbo president but most unfortunately, it is against the same Igbo political aspiration that he fired his diatribe designed to confound the mind. According to him, Igbo cannot produce a president because they don’t have the numbers. Bakare’s assertion is simply bizarre and runs contrary to Nigeria’s power play. He is wrong in many ways: He may be a man of God but certainly not the God that gives power. If God says an Igbo will be that president that will fix Nigeria and save it from collapse, the God that makes everything possible, will make it possible and no amount of human conspiracy and earthly confusion can stop the will of God. For the records, no tribe in Nigeria has the numbers to produce the president solely by itself without a coalition of forces. Not the Fulani, not the Hausa, not the Igbo and most certainly not the Yoruba. Late Alhaji Shehu Shagari was not elected president because the Fulani had the numbers. Chief Obasanjo was not elected president because the Yoruba had the numbers.
In Obasanjo’s case, the Yoruba rejected him. He lost the election in his own ward and yet was elected president. Former President Jonathan didn’t become president because the Ijaw nation had the numbers and likewise President Buhari. In Nigeria, presidents emerge by either conspiracy, coalition, concession or by default. Concession happened in the case of Olusegun Obasanjo versus Olu Falaye where the rest of the country conceded power to the South West to compensate for the unjust annulment of June 12 election believed to have been won by Late Chief MKO Abiola. The two major political parties paraded all-Yoruba candidates, so that head or tail, the Yoruba would win. Such political harmonisation is still possible.
Another way a president had emerged in Nigeria is by conspiracy or coalition. This is when at-least two or more major tribes conspired among themselves to produce a president. An example is the Buhari presidency which is a coalition of forces between the North and the South West. Other presidents like President Yaradua and GoodLuck Jonathan came by default. It has never been the intention of the South East to produce a Nigerian president all by herself. The South-East doesn’t desire to produce an Igbo president but a Nigerian President of Igbo South East extraction elected by Nigerians. Tunde Bakare was also wrong in his thinking that Igbo route to the presidency is APGA. We have five core Igbo states located within the South East. APC which is the ruling party currently controls Ebonyi and Imo States. PDP which is the major opposition party controls Abia and Enugu States, while APGA controls Anambra State. How more mainstream can the Igbo be?
I have also heard the argument that power is taken, not given .This is true but not always. Obasanjo, for the two times he ruled Nigeria, first as a military Head of State and elected president, didn’t take power; it was given to him. Goodluck Jonathan didn’t take power, it was given to him. Umaru Musa Yar’adua didn’t take power, Shagari didn’t take power and Murtala didn’t take power. They all had power given to them on a platter. If Tunde Bakare’s love for the Igbo isn’t just mere platitude, he should be championing the cause of justice for the Igbo. He should be in the front pushing a pan-Nigerian movement for a president of South East extraction. We the Igbo don’t want to be feared by fellow citizens, we only want to be respected and treated with dignity. We don’t want any special privilege but a Nigeria that is fair and just to all. There is nothing the Igbo wish for themselves that they do not wish for the Hausa, the Fulani and for the Yoruba. We want a prosperous and strong Nigeria where people can be judged and assessed by the content of their character and on merit, and not by their tribal tongue or how they pray or dress. We will not replace the current culture of Fulani privilege with Igbo Privilege. We want the chance to build a nation where all men are treated the same and where each and everyone of us is our brothers and sisters’ keeper.
It’s a big disappointment to the average South Easterner, especially the younger generation that fifty-one years after a bitter civil war, fought primarily to stop the Igbo from seceding and to keep Nigeria one, the victor has refused total reconciliation.
We are told in different ways that we are not wanted as equal partners in the Nigeria project. We are treated as second class citizens. We are told we cannot be president because we don’t have the numbers by those who never had the numbers. In other words, an Igbo cannot be president because he is Igbo. There is no dignity in such living.
Finally, in the current Nigeria , where all of the things that were meaningful in our lives have been picked up and spun through this cycle of politics, I will urge Pastor Bakare to mind his true calling as a preacher of the gospel. To combine his pastoral duties with politics doesn’t make him look his best. I wish he takes this very friendly advice in good faith. I remain grateful to him for that memorable encounter of 1992 and the wonderful gift of knowing Christ.(The Sun)