TUNDE BAKARE: EMERGING CONSCIENCE OF THE NATION
In a society where people so much love their lives that they become afraid to voice out their opinions in the face of tragedy, there is one man standing out, who cannot for any reason keep silent in the face of national tragedy.
He is Tunde Bakare, an activist and a fiery pastor of Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos.
He is fiery on the pulpit and other places he sees the opportunities to attack those he often describe as selfish political and ecclesiastical leaders who have over the years manipulated people for their selfish ends.
Where angels are afraid to tread, that is where Bakare will not only walk or run but also make his abode.
In the face of threat to life, he remains undaunted, resolute, courageous and has always maintained that he was not afraid to die because for him to die, he said is gain.
While other clergies who are supposed to be the conscience of the society are now behaving like dogs that out of fear or defeat draws its tail in between the hind legs as a sign of total surrender. They cannot speak against societal ills. Most of them are said to enjoy government patronage and so cannot see or say evil of the system. They hail the political leaders in exalting languages because of personal benefits.
Following the vacuum created at the presidency when President Umaru Yar'Adua left the country on November 23 last year on a medical emergency to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, there was political quagmire and the ship of Nigerian state headed for capsize. There were discordant tunes from government officials on the state of the nation and the political barometer had stretched to its limit. Bakare had to act fast by calling on people of like minds to form the Save Nigeria Group (SNG). In arriving at this decision, Bakare said that, ' even if this government is dubious and deceptive, the rest of us cannot be this foolish and dumb and say nothing.'
SNG, which comprises eminent Nigerians, demonstrated at Abuja, Lagos and other major cities in the country. It also demonstrated in United States, London and Australia. The group demanded the transfer of power from the president to the vice president Goodluck Jonathan. It was the pressure mounted on the National Assembly that led to the emergence of Jonathan as acting president, which doused the embers of political instability that lurked around.
Unlike other activists who would order people out to the streets for protests while sitting in their cozy offices and homes with their families, Bakare does not belong to that clan of hypercritics. At the SNG protests in Abuja, he involved his son and daughter who were in the forefront with him. No other Nigerian activist has put his children in the firing line during protest marches or demonstrations.
Whether in the ecclesiastical or political firmament, Bakare has been carrying out the duties of a watchman by blowing the trumpet, warning the people of danger to come if they fail to walk upright. That means he is fulfilling the biblical injunction of Ezekiel 33: 1-6.
In 1993, when M. K. O. Abiola forayed into politics and became the presidential candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Bakare warned, 'Is there no old man in MKO's house to restrain him because once he begins, he will not come out alive?' That was before the June 12, 1993 presidential elections, the aftermath cost Abiola his life. Again, to Abacha, he warned, 'The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. Abacha, your time is up… People of Kano prepare to receive the corpse of another Head of State.' Weeks later, General Sani Abacha died suddenly and was buried in Kano.
His acerbic tongue occasionally hits his colleagues. Bakare said in a recent press interview that, 'the reason some of the ministers can't speak is due to filthy lucre; because of association with the wrong people; because, if your conscience is alive, you'll know that what you tell your congregation matters.'
In Nigeria, woeful lack of basic needs of man creates fertile ground for religious leaders to lead their congregations by the nose. In this deplorable condition, the church leaders callously manipulate the Bible. The congregations are so dazed with the manipulations to the extent of literally worshipping their leaders.
Bakare has been stoutly condemning the violation of the teachings of Jesus Christ. He is always expressing disgust at how preachers of the word had neglected the needy among their congregations for worldly pursuits. 'Today, Muslim clerics and Christian bishops, pastors have openly discarded their heavenly ordained mission of providing succour to the oppressed and are openly competing for worldly lucre in the form of gigantic camps along the Lagos - Ibadan Expressway,' Bakare said.