CREDIBLE ELECTION, DON'T TRUST JONATHAN, IBB IS FINISHED
Pastor Tunde Bakare is the Senior Pastor of Latter Rain Assembly in Lagos. Early this year, the fire-spitting pastor was spotted at the head of the group asking that power be transmitted to Goodluck Jonathan since the then President Umaru Yar'Adua was ill. In this interview with Sunday Sun, he explained why he was involved in that political venture and also slammed the decision of former military President Ibrahim Babangida to contest the 2011 Presidential election. As far as he was concerned, IBB 'has eaten his future in the past, so there is no future politically for him…. we will vote for him with stones when the right time comes'. Excerpts:
You are involved in a group that is seen as political, now that we have a president after the unfortunate demise of Yar'Adua; does that bring an end to the struggles of your group?
What is the name of that group?
Save Nigeria Group
It is only a thief that will not be proud of what he's doing especially if he gets caught. By God's grace, the 'Save Nigeria Group' has come to stay as a political organization to influence public policy, to decree social mobility in our country, to restore voice back to the voiceless, to help Nigerians to know that sovereignty is in their hands. That way, the best, the brightest, the most competitive and the fittest will be the ones that will rule the country instead of the worst of us ruling the country while neutralizing the best so that the rest can continue to suffer.
We didn't just march, we didn't just do the rallies that we did, we are continuing and that is why we are flagging off another campaign for free, fair and credible election in Nigeria beginning from 2011 so as to ensure that those in power do what is right for the people of Nigeria.
I asked that question because a lot of people have started misinterpreting you. They ask questions like, why is Pastor Bakare in a political organization? Is he now a politician?
Is being a politician a criminal offence? So, why do you say is he now a politician? The bible says, when the righteous are in authority, the people enjoy, when the wicked are in power, the people groan. Where are you going to get the righteous? The Bible said we are the salt, the light of the world, a city set on the hill that cannot be hidden.
Why do you think Christians and believers, Pastors and righteous people should not be involved in partisan politics?
The most critical part of any missions in life, whether you like it or not, the decisions these people take will affect you the Christians. Meanwhile, if we don't get involved we will have ourselves to be blamed. A people deserve the type of leadership they get.
As a pastor and man of God, won't politics drag your name in the mud?
My name will be dragged in the mud if I have done something that deserves it, but if I've not and you throw mud at me, it's a question of time and it will bounce off me. It reminds me of John 9; the story of the blind man that was born blind from his mother's womb. The disciples asked Jesus why he was born blind, was it because of the sin of his mother or that of his father? Jesus said, none of the above. He said, so that the glory of God will be seen; and they brought the blind man to him and he spat on the ground, made mud out of it and put the mud in his eyes. Jesus then told him; go to the pool and wash and you'll see. Why would Jesus put mud in the eyes of a blind man?
He was demonstrating his creative ability. If the man had said, you can't put the mud in my eyes, then he probably wouldn't have seen. He was able to stand the mud. If you can stand the mud, then you'll see the glory.
When people throw mud at you, you let it dry and then it would go off except you have become a corrupt person or you have damaged some things.
Will you be seeking an elective post in 2011?
No, not at all.
What of in 2015?
I am not in a position to determine what happens tomorrow because I am not God, but I know that in 2011, I won't be seeking any elective office.
We are building the 'Save Nigeria Group' to become an alternative to the mess we have around us. It is not a political party. I have not held any party card in my life. I have not been a member of any political party but we are building this political organization to provide the alternative solution to our hydra-headed problems.
We don't even want Save Nigeria Group to become a political party. There are groups within the party and there are individuals that will join different political parties. We want it to be a political organization to shape public policy in Nigeria and when the right time comes, if God wants some of us to go that way, we would go but not 2011.
Some public commentators, even Pastors, are saying that you are stepping off your calling by going into politics, what do you have to say about that?
First, opinions are like noses, everyone has one, but they all look different. Anyone can make any comment, he's the owner of his mouth, I don't have to respond to it if it doesn't apply to me.
Secondly, many of such people are ignorant because when you take your Bible and read, it says, 'He has made us Kings and Prince who will reign on earth'. Where do you want to exercise that domain? The Bible went further and said, 'are you a King?' He says 'to this end was I born and for this purpose, came I into the world', it's in the Bible. Was he born to become a King in heaven or on earth?
Some of these people who are so ignorant would say, He had said His Kingdom is not of this world but he would not read the end of the book where he said, the Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our God and of Christ and He will reign forever. They will not read Romans Chapter 13 where he said; 'those who are in governmental positions are God's ministers'. We have a narrow mind and narrow interpretation of what God means by minister to mean a man behind the pulpit or a man in church preaching the gospel.
There are apostles in the marketplace; there are apostles in every field of endeavour. He has sent us to preach the gospel to the entire world and to make disciples of nations and individuals.
In Psalm 78,He said 'He took David from the sheepfold', from following the little ewe lambs. Why? So that he could shepherd Isreal. He translated him from being the shepherd of little sheep's to shepherd an entire nation, then he shepherded Isreal with the integrity of his heart and with the skillfulness of his hands. You need such people prepared by God. It doesn't have to be me, and it can be anybody. So, those who don't know are reading their Bible upside down.
Why keep on talking about credible election when the President has already promised to ensure that?
Earlier you asked me whether I'm contesting for any elective office and I said no, you don't know why. The reason is because many people build their houses from the rooftop. I didn't say I will not be involved, but I have said I would not be involved in seeking elective office in 2011.
What are we doing presently? We are building grassroots' support everywhere so that when the time comes to demonstrate that we can do something, because politics is the act of the possible, it's a game of number. You just don't go there because you have money to throw around. If money can translate to political power, then, many would be in politics today but we need to get to our people to let them know that there is a better way and alternative to this mess and ensure those people's voices are restored.
Do you think Jonathan can conduct credible election in 2011 especially now that all fingers are pointing to the fact that he might contest?
That question should be addressed to President Jonathan Goodluck, if he can or can't do it. He must know his own capacity, capability, his ability for fairness and at the same time, an umpire.
If you have strengthened the institution called INEC, we would not be asking this questions because American Presidents right now contest in elections after they have won and nobody is screaming that they will not conduct a free and fair election or not because it is not their responsibility. It is the responsibility of the state to conduct the governorship election, but here, it is the responsibility of the federal government to do everything. It is because we have not strengthened our electoral body that we are afraid.
It is only in Bangladesh that the president has to step down, every other country is exceptional. In Britain, a sitting prime minister conducted an election and he lost, in America, President Bush conducted an election but lost to Bill Clinton. It depends on his ability and credibility and if he is going to be a sportsman because the day is coming, when sitting president would be defeated in this nation and that is not many days from now.
Does the SNG trust Jonathan to organize a credible election?
If we trust anybody, we would not be going out to speak about how to conduct one. It is because we can't see anything in place that points to the fact that there would be a free, fair and credible election. Why do you want to run a campaign to show that this is how it's been done?
If we have a credible INEC chairman, do you think we can have a credible election?
There are some many things involved, you can have a good INEC chairman that would still be a lame duck. If you go into a rotten place, there is no way it will not affect you. What we are talking about will be more than just an INEC chairman, it has to do with the enabling legislation; the independence of that particular legislation that they are not dependent on the President; the credibility of each person. There must be a credible voters register. A voters register that will have a picture of the person who's supposedly registered so that we don't have Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson in our voters register like they saw in some places.
Enabling legislation, conducive and enabling environment where the policeman is not on the side of any political party but he is there to protect every citizen who is voting. Year 2006 was the last time we had a voter's registration exercise last in Nigeria. So, everybody that turned 18 since 2006 has been disenfranchised.
If the youth in this nation of voting age are up to 80 million people and they are saying something contrary to what is happening in our nation. The day you create enabling legislation, enabling environment, the day you strengthen the institution of INEC to be independent and you settle it at national and state level with credible people and men turn out to vote and they know how to vote and to ensure that their votes counts, we would have credible election.
People believed that one way of having a credible election in 2011 is Jonathan not contesting, that if he's contesting, he would be an interested party, do you share that sentiment?
I can't because I have seen it done elsewhere except you are saying we are all a pack of fools here. Would Obama contest election after his first term? Definitely, so does that mean he would rig election? Didn't President Bill Clinton beat Bush senior when he (Bush) was seeking second term? Did Bush not lose the election? Let's blame ourselves because we are more than these people (political class) in number and yet we are the ones constituting the problem because most of the people are not even interested in voting and then they'll complain that wrong people are there.
Do you vote during elections?
I didn't vote in the 1993 election because I knew the result and in 2003 and 2007, I was not in the country. I was abroad. In 1993 when God spoke to me that SDP will fail to clinch power, NRC will lose, the military will fall, so I didn't even bother to vote because I knew the result, I knew that if I had voted, I wouldn't have seen the result and eventually there was no result.
But the game is changing. I am a registered voter. I have my cards. I once joked with General Yakubu Gowon, I saw him at the airport and I said, 'they are having election in Nigeria and you are traveling abroad' and he said, 'I have some international engagement', I said well, 'it's kettle calling pot black, I'm also traveling'. If you've perceived that the environment is so polluted and that there is nothing meaningful going to come out of it, you don't waste your energy but now, things are changing.
What do you think of IBB contesting in 2011?
He won't do anything like that. Do you notice that not much is coming from his camp again? The moment they started talking about the oil windfall, the Okigbo panel report and that the report is on the desk of the Attorney General, have you seen that he is now very quiet? He has eaten his future in the past, so there is no future politically for him. I have told you we will vote for him with stones when the right time comes.
Do you think Jonathan will have a fair chance against IBB?
Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida is a Nigerian that is free to contest except he's proven to be a criminal or that he has committed some crimes by way of embezzlement of public funds and he's found guilty. But you may contest an election but that doesn't mean that you would win. Just as he frustrated the hopes of millions of Nigerians in 1993 and nullified what is considered today, the fairest and freest election in Nigeria, so will his own hopes be dashed.
Is that a prophesy?
It's not prophetic; it's a special prayer for him. If he wants to live long, let him leave Nigeria alone, if not we would compare notes at Christmas.
Will you want to give a word of caution concerning the involvement of OBJ in the presidency? He seems to be a power broker at least from behind the scene in this administration?
I can't give any word of caution to anybody because he is a free citizen and he's free to associate with anyone. You don't blame President Obasanjo for putting his hand in everything. You'll want to ask President Goodluck Jonathan whether he has an opinion of his own or is he a man of his own self? Can he assert his own authority? Is he the executive president of Nigeria? Or he's just a puppet on the seat being remote controlled by some people? Those questions should be directed to him. I don't blame Obasanjo. Obasanjo cannot come to this church and direct the affairs of this church because if he comes, he will sit in the congregation.
Suppose he was a former senior pastor here and he wants to wield some influence, what would you do?
He would have to see me and we talk privately. He cannot do that. Who tried to goad him when he was in power? Even Bush didn't try to influence Bush jnr, not publicly. When people are no longer relevant, they would want to make noise so that you think they are still there. Their days are numbered.
Are you saying OBJ is no longer relevant in Nigerian politics?
Do you think he's still relevant? He can't pass a bill. He can't sign a bill. He can only vote like every normal citizen just like me, what relevance does he have? He's the B.O.T. chairman of PDP . You know the meaning of BOT? Build, Operate and Transfer. It's a question of time.
Ribadu's AIG post has been restored and some people believe that this is immoral and that the government is blowing hot and cold at the same time, where do you stand?
I don't have all the facts at my disposal, but I think except for the time that it was perceived that Obasanjo was using Ribadu to attack his perceived enemies in politics, he truly fought gallantly and he tried to take on the sacred cow and the untouchables in the history of Nigeria. Now, if the Police Service Commission and the board has restored his rank and retired him at the same time, I don't have all the facts at my disposal but it is certainly not the first time that such will be happening. We've pardoned many prisoners, we have pardoned many certificate forgers, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari, was pardoned by Obasanjo. So, it's not new.
What will happen to the remaining 138 officers that were demoted at the same time with Ribadu?
Well, the Yoruba's say, 'ori la fi n m'eran l'awo,' 'ori yeye lo n mogun taise lo po'. We are back in the animal farm days where all animals are equal and some are more equal than others. So, if this is animal farm, we need to read George Orwell's Animal Farm again. The 138 others that were demoted probably do not have Ribadu's profile.
There is discussion over which zone should rule Nigeria again. The south has enjoyed eight years and the north's slot was cut short by the death of the former president, where does SNG stand in this discourse?
SNG totally believes in zoning. We have our own philosophy of zoning and I will tell you in a simple format. East, West, South, North, only the best is good enough for Nigeria. Even in homes, there's zoning. When you are hungry, your wife cooks and brings the food to the table. Somebody's work is in the kitchen; the other person work is on the table. There's zoning everywhere.
Zoning itself is not bad as long as the best, the brightest, the most competent and the fittest are the ones coming up.
The zoning you have mentioned is not a constitutional provision; it's a party thing. So why do you want to get pimples because of PDP and their jargon?
All this is because there are no formidable opponents or parties that can withstand PDP. That is why it isbecoming an issue.
Secondly, for those who say things will go back to the north because it is north's time. Nobody killed Yar'Adua. It was sickness that killed him and it was God who took him away and since this (Jonathan) was his Vice President, we perceive that it's still the same administration and he would now look for someone within the PDP, because he can't take someone from AC or where ever, and they continue, whether east, north, south, west; what we want is the best, the most competent to be in charge of the affairs of our nation.
But we don't have credible opposition against PDP. Do you think any thing good can come out of this 2011 election?
I hope something good would come out because I desire the best for my country. I don't see anything good coming out of PDP, as far as I am concerned, they are all politically demonized people but you'll work with what you have for now while you are preparing the alternative and my simple inspirations comes from the scripture.
When Isreal demanded for a king, He gave them Saul but He was already preparing David because that is the man after His heart. And in the course of time, he showed the person with the anointing when he brought Goliath out. Saul was the tallest in Israel until someone from the enemy camp showed up that was taller than Saul. So, they brought a 16-year-old to face Goliath and he killed Goliath. God gave Israel a king in his anger; he took him away in his wrath. God has a way of balancing all these interests behind this thing because he rules in the affairs of men and gives victory. But today, PDP looks larger than life, you can see division has begun already.
Their chicken has begun to eat it's own intestine and it's only a question of time before PDP suffers the implosion at the rate at which it's going and the other parties that are neither here nor there, a little here, a little there, eventually, they can muster strength, and what stops us from having regional parties?
Regional parties in Nigeria?
With all the might of PDP, they couldn't take Lagos state and they will not take Lagos state in the future because the governor of Lagos state is out-performing every other person.
There is this argument that Christians should not get involved in politics because it is a dirty game so that they won't get their hands soiled.
It is like the stupid thought that television is dirty so you should not have one in your house. It is not television that is dirty. It is the programme on television that is dirty. You can choose and select your own programmes and the things you want to watch on TV. Television is not the devil's box. There can be demonic programmes on the television like the internet, so it depends on what you are looking for. If you say politics is dirty, I will only give you two quotations, both of them from Edmond Burke. In one, he said 'those who will say nothing in the face of tyranny must endure the rule of idiots' and number two, he said 'the good people, all that you need for evil to triumph is for the good people to keep quiet and do nothing'. So it is dirty because clean people are not there.
A school of thought claims that if the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) decides to pick a candidate and say this is our candidate, all Christians should cast their votes for him, the number of Christians should be able to enthrone a candidate, you believe that?
That is because Christians are the most divided group that you can find around. They are divided by doctrine, divided by personality, divided by things that are not actually very important to what they claim to believe. I like what I will call the philosophy of ministry of the Foursquare Gospel Church. There are three principles and I call them the principles of philosophy of ministry: in doctrine unity, they call it inessentials, in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty in all things charity if we follow that and we do not allow funny little things to divide u.
We can use the muscle of our population and number to bring about change in our country in an orderly fashion but the moment I show up that I will be a candidate and you show up and you are from Celestial Church and another person from Synagogue signifies interest, trouble starts. People say they won't back me because I am from Latter Rain.
He is from Foursquare and the other one we don't know where he is from and so we all now get up and argue. Christ is already divided and mutilated and we do not have a strong challenge. In spite of all the efforts of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and CAN, we are not matured enough along that line and nobody should play any religious card. We should look for the best, the most competent to lead our nation and Christians and Moslems should vote for such people regardless of religious persuasion provided we can see in them some credibility and a level of integrity that matches the office.
We have so many churches in Nigeria and moral decadence increases by the day, would you say this is a failure of the church?
I don't think so. I am not going to blame the church for the failure of the country. I am sure the churches are doing their best. Let's put it this way; we have this number of churches and we have this level of moral decadence, then let us withdraw them and see what will happen. It is like saying we have light here and there and there is still darkness.
Then we switch off all the lights; won't the darkness go darker? If we have all the churches and the moral decadence is like this, what will happen if they are withdrawn? We should also consider that. What we should do is to raise the standard, walk the talk and be doers of the word and not hearers alone. Let the preachers and those in their congregation live by example not by precepts.
You were once reported to have said that Obasanjo's blood would be used to cleanse Nigeria but it never materialized
I have never said such a thing in my life. Every message I have preached, we don't doctor tapes here. I can tell you what message I said in 1999, March the 7th, rejoice not yet oh land or your joy will be temporary. I am bringing your judges, your rulers, your prophets, your priests to my threshing floor and after I have threshed them I will restore to you a permanent joy. Obasanjo is not your messiah and the prophetic axe will fall upon his head before May 1999.
I have just given it to you the way the prophecy was said.
But it was reported that you said the man was going to be used as the person to sacrifice for the nation?
You know any body can report what he likes but on your way out you can please pick the tape it is titled ' No more walls'. It will throw light on the matter. I was preaching about the church when that prophecy came and I have heard everything. Fortunately, Concord Newspaper of that era published that thing verbatim, word for word and I endorsed it because that was what I said. I stand on whatsoever the Lord has given me to say.
What do you mean by prophetic axe falling upon him because I think that what people expected then was that he will not ascend the the presidency when you said the prophetic axe will fall upon him before May 29?
Spiritual things are discerned spiritually. For example, God spoke concerning Babylon: 'you are my battle axe and my weapon of war is you. I will smash the nations, I will defeat the kings.' Look is Obasanjo the statesman alive or is Olusegun Okikiola the statesman dead? You can have a corpse walking up and down. Is it he still the same man everybody thought would be the hope of Nigeria and restore Nigeria back to the path of glory? Is he invited to the Comity of nations as he used to be? Did he save Nigeria or did he become power drunk and greedy that he wanted a third term?
He said he didn't want a third term?
He can tell that to the baboons and to people who are not intelligent because those who carried money around are still in Nigeria.