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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Pastor Tunde Bakare: His faith, passion and politics

Theophilus Abbah, Kayode Ekundayo, Chris Agabi, Adelanwa Bamgboye, Mohammed Shosanya, (Lagos), Sule Lazarus, Nurudeen M. Abdallah, (Abuja) & Ismail Mudashir, Kaduna


Pastor Tunde Bakare
If you are in search of one man who does not suffer fools gladly, you will find such a character in the interesting personality of fire-spitting pentecostal minister of the gospel, Pastor Tunde Bakare.
His incendiary style of ministration and public advocacy has endeared him to a multitude of admirers in the polity. It has also earned him enemies in almost equal proportion.  He is the classical advocate of, beg your pardon, not the Devil but a dogged exponent of the bitter truth. Of course, this singular single-mindedness has earned him uncomplimentary epithets from his critics both in the sacred business of preaching the gospel and in the combustible world of partisan politics. It could not possibly have been otherwise for somebody who has had a glimpse of the world from vantage perspectives. He is pastor with a profound Islamic background who is venturing into the turbulent stream of partisan politics. He is one pastor who has used the pulpit to preach highly controversial sermons seeing himself, as it were, as a prophet in the mould of Elijah of old raised by God as judgment to nations and their leadership that have gone astray from the word of God. It is no wonder that he has also tended to stay in judgment against whatever, in his view, amounted to heretical practices of churches and pastors of The New Testament Ministry of Jesus Christ, especially in this country. It is one battle that had pitched him against the most formidable and highly revered men of God and their super congregations. If you are a first time worshipper in his celebrated Latter Rain Assembly at Ogba in lkeja, Lagos, you will be forgiven if you erroneously think you are in a civic class instead of a church auditorium if Pastor Bakare is the man doing the preaching.

Pastor Bakare recently stepped up his advocacy credentials by joining the league of preachers who have taken to politics in recent time. They are: Pastor Chris Okotie of the Household of God Reverend Jolly Nyame of the United Methodist Church of Africa (UMCA), a three time governor of Taraba state, Professor Yusuf Obaje, former Chaplain of the Aso Rock chapel, Reverend Father Moses Adasu of blessed memory, a Catholic priest who became Governor of Benue State and governor David Jonah Jang, who was ordained pastor before his election in 2007.

The pentecostal pastor   who was born on the 11th November, 1954 epitomizes a cliché of different stroke for different people. Bakare, to some is controversial considering his positions on contemporary issues, including his colleagues in the Lord’s vineyard, but to others, he is a man of integrity who needn’t dabble into the murky waters of politics.

Pastor Bakare rose from humble beginnings to a position of influence. He was born into a Muslim polygamous family that had many conflicts and rivalry. Although he did not enjoy a conventional childhood, he struggled through life’s phases to make something of himself.

He did not grow up to know his father but was brought up by his mother, Madam Abigail Eebudola Bakare along with other siblings.

Bakare attended Lisabi Grammar School and also spent a year at Zumratul Islamiyya Grammar School? where he had to re-sit Mathematics, and later gained admission into the University of Lagos in 1980 to read Law. He had earlier rejected an offer of admission into another university to study a different course.

Pastor Bakare’s marriage to Mrs Olayide Bakare in 1984 played a pivotal role in his life, career and ministry. Mrs B, as she is affectionately referred to by her husband has been involved in the ministry work all her adult life and has served alongside her husband since their wedding in 1984.

First as a co-pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly and presently a member of the board of trustees of the church, Mrs Bakare has been instrumental to the growth and development of her husband’s ministry. The union has produced five children.


his criticism his troubles

His critical stance on issues had run him into trouble many times. For instance, when the late M. K. O. Abiola forayed into politics in 1993 and became the presidential candidate of  the 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.


BAKARE AT GANI’S CHAMBER

The late legal icon, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) used to call Pastor Tunde Bakare “Abubakar Sindiku,” being his Muslim name.  Pastor Tunde Bakare practised Law in the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s Chamber, Anthony village, Lagos. He also practised law in other law firms in Lagos, including “Awosika and Awosika”, before he established his own law firm which was known as “El-Shaddai Chamber”.

Olatunji Akinola, a Lagos based lawyer, told our correspondent that he had a case “Jaiyeola vs. Jaiyeola” which was then before Justice Omotunde Ilori, (who later became the Chief Judge of Lagos State). In that case, it was two factions in a family that engaged in a legal tussle over a will.

According to Akinola, while the legal battle was raging in court, one of the children of the deceased could not access money to pay his school fees and almost dropped out of school, but himself (Barrister Olatunji Akinola) and Bakare, not only agreed, but also applied to the court and the child’s school fees was deducted from the estate while the case was still in court. Today, that child is a lawyer.

He described Bakare as a hardworking, steadfast and industrious personality.

His words: “he (Bakare) will never give in to cheating. He is a down-to-earth person and pursues whatever he believes in with all dexterity.”

Barrister Oluwole Kehinde, one of the lawyers in the defunct Gani Fawehinmi Chambers, told our correspondent that even though he didn’t meet the fiery cleric at the chamber, his name was still written in gold.

According to him, while there, Bakare was hardworking, principled and very friendly. “He was close to late Gani Fawehinmi’s family.He didn’t have any negative record of transaction or dupe any client to soil the image of the chamber’’.

He said these attributes are a manifestation that Bakare is one of the conscience of the nation who can be trusted at all times. He said his Vice Presidential ambition under the CPC is in order.

According to him, his match with General Muhammadu Buhari, who is equally an upright person, is a deserving one and will benefit the nation in the long run.

On Monday, January 31, 2011, Tunde Bakare was picked by the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), retired General Muhammadu Buhari as his running mate for the 2011 presidential election.


THE BIRTH OF SAVE NIGERIA GROUP

The quest for political change pushed Bakare with other people of like minds to form the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) in January 2010, following the vacuum created in the presidency when the late President Umaru Yar’adua took ill and was flown abroad  for medical attention on November 23,2009 .

SNG is a non-profit political society organization committed to creating a political environment that guarantees only the best, brightest, fittest and most competent Nigerians are democratically elected into public offices, bound by a credible constitution that promotes and protects the rights of every Nigerian.

SNG, which comprises eminent Nigerians, demonstrated in Abuja, Lagos and other major cities of the country. It also demonstrated in the 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.

Yinka Odumakin, Publicity secretary, Buhari/Bakare presidential campaign organization said “I have worked with him (Bakare) closely in the last three years and I can say he is a fearless, patriotic and sincere Nigerian. He shares the same vision with General Mohammadu Buhari and is very committed to any cause that he believes in.

“He is a man whom you can take his word to the bank. He is one of the few men around whom I can vouch for. Although, I have been following him since 1993 when he started the Latter Rain Assembly Church, I developed a close bond in the last three years and I have searched through him, and there is nowhere that his reputation is in doubt. He will do well in public life if given the opportunity to serve


HOW BAKARE WILL HELP BUHARI

On mobilization of the christendom and at peace with other men of God, Odumakin said “in the last two days talks have commenced. Early this week, Bakare and Buhari met with the General Overseer of the Redeemed Church of God. Bakare is not only appealing to Christendom, but to all segment of the society. The day his name was mentioned as the running mate to General Buhari, some youths opened a facebook page calling for volunteers to work with him. Within one week, 6,000 youths had registered to work with him.

Odumakin said though the South-West had the most sophisticated voters, Buhari/Bakare ticket will secure block votes. What is going to happen in this region is that we are going to have technical votes and at the end of the day, Buhari/Bakare ticket will hold sway. If you look at all other political parties, Buhari/Bakare ticket represents change and because Nigerians are desirous of change, they will vote in that direction. The South-West is going to be the game changer, more so Pastor Bakare belongs to Omoluabi- the Yoruba value system where moral is greatly cherished.


HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER MEN OF GOD

Bakare had  also been critical of some of his colleagues and this is believed to be his undoing, and which may count against him at the polls. The preachers with large followership whom he criticised include Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith, Pastor Enoch Adeboye and Pastor Kumuyi of the Deeper Life Church. He accused them of turning the church into a mere theatre where people go to be amused and entertained by actors and actresses. He criticized the Lekki 98 programme of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and the yearly Shiloh programme organised by Bishop Oyedepo’s Winners’ Chapel. Bakare told journalists in an interview that he will not even dignify that (Shiloh) by a comment.

“I’m not criticising them. For the Redeemed Church, the theme was the visitation of God or something to that effect; so that you don’t miss the day of your visitation.

And I said, this is how you know if people are backward. Is He visiting us now or does He want habitation after He had died and has risen from the dead and He’s now in heaven and the Holy Ghost is here? It’s no longer time of visitation that you might built up a habitation of God. A visitor is different from one who inhabits. Because He’s a visitor, He comes and goes. That’s why people don’t have His presence to carry Him in their hearts. It’s not an empty criticism; it’s just that you know how we, as a people, are. That’s all.

On Oyedepo’s Shiloh, he said, “I’m not dignifying it with a comment because there’s no difference between him or whoever is perpetrating the things they are doing and the man they’re trying to crucify called T. B. Joshua. What’s the difference in their practices? Very little. The Christianity of chattels, of oil, of mantle, of washing of feet? Where are those things? They should show it to me in the Bible. And I can tell you where it is from.”

Bakare had publicly torn a book written by Bishop Oyedepo, claiming its contents were contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. After Bakare was announced running mate to Buhari, Oyedepo urged his followers to “register to vote and you’ll be told how to use them.”

It’s not clear if Oyedepo will ask his men to vote for or against Bakare’s CPC.


WHAT MEN OF GOD SAY ABOUT BAKARE’S FORAY INTO POLITICS

Reverend Father Tony Bassey, the Parish Priest, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Akute, Ogun State said it is a good development. “I have personally advocated good Christians to be in politics. So it is a good thing for Nigeria that good Christians and Muslims are veering into politics. The only concern is that they should be able to introduce God’s fear in leadership.  I think religious leaders will be the ones who will help fix Nigeria. I think we should give them a chance,” he said

According to Blessing Okafor, a Catholic, the question of religion should not even arise because Buhari could have chosen anybody.

“If we can but, for once, keep away religious inclinations in politics; come to think of it, can we be judged to be true to the religion we profess and ‘seem’ to practise? she asked.

Okocha Kenneth Chukwudi who attends one of the Pentecostal churches didn’t find Bakare’s foray into politics funny. He dismissed his ambition and referred to it as antics of “end time pastor,” reminding Bakare of his prophesy that ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo will not smell the presidency.

Ben Mamedu advised pastor Bakare to remain a critic. “Like the late Gani, we love him, but there is no opposition party that possesses the national spread to take over Aso Rock just yet, so let him be a critic like late Gani.”

Steve Tolu Agbota asked what a pastor like Bakare is doing in politics. He also asked if he will still continue with his pastoral work if his boss wins.

“Too many questions for Tunde to answer. A time is coming when everybody will start sitting in their various rooms and worshipping God because these days, we don’t know the pastor who is truly serving God. Can someone boldly tell me what the hell men of God are doing in politics?”

Esther Fashe Olubakinde, a Catholic, said Pastor Bakare has been called to proclaim the good news, thus he doesn’t have business with politics because he will abandon his soul wining business.


WHY BUHARI CHOSE BAKARE

Indications emerged that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, might have sold the idea of Pastor Tunde Bakare to the CPC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. But Sunday Trust could not get the details of the pact.

However, giving an insight into why General Mohammadu Buhari picked Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate, a close associate of the former head of state, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), said General Buhari opted for the cleric because of his outstanding pedigree, antecedent and his stance on the situation of the country.

Colonel Ali, who was military administrator of  Kaduna State, told Sunday Trust that General Buhari wanted a person of his like mind as running mate and that he found same in Pastor Bakare, hence his nomination.

“Pastor Bakare has a good character that endears him to many in the country. His outstanding qualities are like that of the General. Nobody can pinpoint or link anything negative to him. And these are things, qualities General Buhari want,’’ he said.

According to him, Pastor Bakare is a great mobiliser, will assist boost the candidature of General Buhari in the South-West where he is from.

Commenting on the choice, a former chairman of the Conference for Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, who led the opposition to back the candidature of General Buhari in 2007, said the selection of Pastor Bakare was purely a CPC affair, but that an arrangement was in the offing between the party and seven other political parties to confront the ruling PDP.

He said the party, under the new arrangement tagged Coalition for a New Nigeria (CNN), will pull resources together in order to defeat the PDP at the polls. Already, he said a pact tagged Patriotic and Democratic Election Alliance has been signed by the political parties which he listed to includes the CPC, Labour Party, PRP, PMP, NPP, PNP, ACP, PAC and NAP.

According to him, in no time, an announcement will be made as per their presidential candidate and that all parties in the CNN have been left to field candidates pending the final meeting of the coalition.

At their final meeting, he said, all candidates and their running mates will be screened with a view to determine their acceptability, popularity and integrity.

“We, in these parties, have all agreed to support one presidential candidate with the sole aim of wresting power from the PDP. The nomination of Bakare is the decision of the CPC, it is their party affair. Other political parties under the CNN have done the same. Soon, we will convey a meeting and decide out of the candidates who have emerged winners in individual parties, the one we are going to support. At this moment, others will have to back down,’’ he said.


BUHARI/BAKARE TICKET IS WHAT NIGERIA NEEDS - ISYAKU IBRAHIM

Buhari’s choice of Bakare is the right thing to do, a frontline politician and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim, told Sunday Trust. He said that the Buhari/Bakare ticket is the best for the country. “Buhari’s choice of Tunde Bakare is very good for Nigeria. Everybody knows Bakare. He is a religious leader and activist. Some people say he is a church leader but and then so what?” he said.

He explained that Nigerians easily forget, saying; “who is Martin Luther King? Was he not a church leader? But he brought a revolution to America. Today, Barack Obama is enjoying the legacies of Reverend Martin Luther King; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Reverend Andrew Young; Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu and so on. Who told Nigerians that religious leaders cannot be good leaders?  It is always good for us if we have leaders who are godly and God –fearing. Bakare is a man of sanity and moral uprightness,” the PDP stalwart said.

Ibrahim said that the Buhari/Bakare is beautiful combination for Nigerians who are sincere. “If it is religion, he is there to represent the interests of the Christians. And Buhari is not the first person to do that. I welcome the choice of Bakare as Buhari’s running mate. I saw them this morning and I congratulated Tunde Bakare. I went to see Buhari this morning and he introduced me to Bakare and I also met my good friend, Prince Tony Momoh. The two people have a pedigree Nigeria needs at this time to develop,” he said.

The politician explained that Buhari’s unblemished record as a military governor, Minister of Petroleum, Head of State and chairman of the Petroleum Trust Funds (PTF), is unparalleled. “He is the type of leader Nigeria needs. He is going to restore good governance in the country. He has already picked two items that will fix the country that is: energy and security. If you have energy in the forest you can build a city. Let us rally around these people and give them support by electing them,” he said.

The PDP chieftain said that he shares the same goal with Buhari “despite the fact that we sometimes disagree. I was the very person who described his government as a military junta after he overthrew our government. I established a ‘talking drum’ in London criticising his government. He is a man of impeccable character and blunt honesty. He is an outstanding man. Nigeria needs Buhari and Bakare to move out of the woods. It is our responsibility to ensure that they are elected during the April polls. His choice of Bakare is a clear indication of the type of personality Buhari is made of.”

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