Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly in a recent interview gives a glimpse into his experience in politics while running as the Vice Presidential candidate of the now defunct, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Bakare is the convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG). An advocate of transparency and good governance, Bakare ran for political office as vice-presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) with General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) in the 2011 election.
He revealed in an interview with the Tribune saying running with the party presidential flagbearer, Gen. Muhammad Buhari allowed him to go beyond preaching and “see things from another perspective”.
Some years ago, you stepped down from the pulpit and threw your hat in the ring of active partisan politics. That adventure must have afforded you the opportunity to see things in a different light. In what ways would you say it has affected your outlook on Nigeria?
Let me first correct you that I never stepped down from the pulpit; all throughout the campaign period, I returned home every Sunday to preach at the Latter Rain Assembly except one Sunday when we were in Maiduguri, Borno State, and we could not come back. So, I never stepped down from the pulpit. You see, the confusion in the minds of the people is to say, ‘separate religion from politics!’ (Chuckles) That is Aaronic priesthood, where those who were working in the tabernacle of Moses or the temple of Solomon were separate from those administering the nation. But in the Melchizedek priesthood – which is the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ – the king, the priest and prophet are rolled up in one. That is why David, the father of Jesus (because he’s called the Son of David), was a prophet, priest and a king. And Melchizedek himself was a king (of Salem) and a priest. I didn’t seek election; I was drafted, and I thought it would benefit my nation. And to be honest with you, it gave me the opportunity to see things from another perspective; to go beyond just preaching to begin to put solutions together with a view to helping the nation to cater for not just the underprivileged of the society but to facilitate infrastructural development and help everyone maximise their potential. Politics is not just about power or election; it is much more than that. It is about administering people. And to be honest with you – and you can ask this opinion of men of God, especially those who have what you call mega churches today – there is much more horrific politics in the church than the one outside.
Will you in the near future present yourself again for elective office?
My heroes are the likes of Joseph, Daniel, Meshach, Shadrack and Abednego, Esther (if you’re looking for a woman example) and especially Nehemiah the nation builder. I am not doing what I am doing because I am looking for power to be called ‘His Excellency’. Those things last for a few years. However, those men played significant roles in the politics of their time. Joseph became father to Pharaoh. He controlled more or less all the resources of Egypt and ensured what was called the redistribution of resources to the extent that the nations of the earth came to Egypt to buy corn. Nehemiah did not only build the walls of Jerusalem; he came against the oppression that was devastating the people inside the broken walls. Time will not permit me to tell of Daniel alongside Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego who dominated the history of Babylon for the next 60 years although they were captives. I am not sitting here today planning what political party I am going to join? Illegal joining will just backfire on you. That is not what I am looking for. I am looking for God-given opportunity to contribute my quota for as long as I breathe towards the development of my nation. And if that requires participating in active politics, the answer is yes. If it doesn’t require it, I will just do my own best. I prefer to work in the engine room. A great leader does not mind who takes the credit, provided the job is done.
While commenting on the Centenary Celebrations celebrated by the Federal Government despite the killing of scores of children in Yobe, Bakare said he would have decided on a low-key celebration if he were President Jonathan.
Many people were offended that the centenary celebration was allowed to continue even with the killings going on in the North-East. What would you have done differently if you were in the president’s shoes?
I would have toned it down.
Like suspending it?
I don’t know, but it probably would not have gone that way. But at the same time, he had security reports that I don’t have. I couldn’t stand those things that I saw there in that hall, and I felt the pain that if any of these people’s children had been directly involved, they probably would have not done this. But then, let’s not be a quick judge, because the Judge of all does not sleep.
You have always been a critic of bad governance, but people have noticed that you have not been as critical of the Goodluck Jonathan administration as you were of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. There are insinuations that you are probably now working for Jonathan. Are you?
Were you not here when I led the Ojota (Lagos) move against Jonathan? Please, don’t listen to such talks. I am not working for this government; I am working for the interest of this country and its people, and I will support anyone that would think of the people first. You can’t say that I am working for him. In what way am I working for him? Am I a minister? Have I collected any contract? Has he given me any money? Or has he appointed any of my sons or daughters into his government? If the president seems to be doing what is right in the midst of so many things they have done wrong, let us take advantage of that that is right and build a future out of it. That is what this is all about. And neither am I a bitter critic of anybody; there is no bitterness in me. I take each person on face value and say this is what this is about. When we said Obasanjo was an ill wind that would blow no one any good, here we are today. What stopped Obasanjo from giving Nigeria a better leadership than we are now criticising? And if it is the destiny of President Jonathan to convene a national conference, no man gets into power except God says so; but that does not give them the confidence to gloat because God can also remove them. Saul came to power because God sent Samuel to him; and God removed Saul when He saw that Saul was not acting in His own interest. If this man within 10 years had become president of Nigeria without any pedigree or antecedent, let us fear God and let us seize the moment and make the best of the present chaotic situation. God helping us, we will see the future of our dreams.