Pastor Tunde Bakare, Serving Overseer, the Citadel Global Community Church in this exclusive interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on the recent #EndSARS protests, restructuring, his presidential ambition and other issues of national importance. Excerpts:
You are not known to make flippant statements but it was reported in the media that you said you will become the next President-elect of Nigeria like Joe Biden of the United States. How true is that report?
I’ve realised that the Nigerian press, sometimes for the sake of their sale, use headlines that when you read the entire story, you will be wondering ‘ What has this title got to do with this’? I can’t stop the press from doing whatever they will with what I said. But I will say to you that there is a difference between ambition and a vision that is clear to you. The companion of ambition is anxiety. You’ve been trying to scheme to make it happen, you pursue it and so on. But if it is a clear vision from heaven and it is clear in your spirit, it’s a question of time. Whoever is going to deal with God must have to be patient. The vision upon my head, like Daniel will say, I saw in 1967. It is not today. Go and interview some of my classmates in secondary school, they will tell you that I shared it with them.
Speak to my wife also; before I proposed to her, I spoke about it also. Ask Pastor E.A Adeboye in 1984 when I became a part of his church, I spoke with him about where my journey is going. That was probably one of the reasons he encouraged me to step in when President Buhari asked me to be his running mate. I don’t want you to continue asking people. My destiny is intertwined with that of Nigeria. By the grace of God, I have a role to play. When I wrote the book on my mum titled ‘The Woman Who Saw The Future’, page 85 of that book says ‘By the time the 16th president will come into manifestation, I have a significant role to play and it is a role of destiny. I shared it to Mr. President himself”.
There is no place where the President and I sat down and say ‘Oh, you will succeed me in 2023’. And I’ve not openly anywhere joined a political party and say this is the political party I’m going to use; neither have I put any structure in place. But I do know this, if God said to Samuel, go to the House of Jesse, anoint one of his sons, I have provided myself a king in his house, King Saul can do whatever he wants to do, God has already said goodbye. All the Adonijahs of this world can have war chests and buy chariots to become the next king after David, if it belongs to Solomon, they may not even invite him to their party.They will hail Adonijah and say ‘Long hail King Adonijah’ before he will know that Solomon is the preferred choice. If it’s true or false, it’s a question of time. Be patient! These things will come into manifestations in the days to come. I believe very strongly that God is raising me to shepherd this nation just as I have shepherded the church. In Psalms 78 verses 70-72, he took David from following the ewes, little sheep to come and shepherd Israel as a nation, and he shepherded Israel with the integrity of his heart and the skillfulness of his hands.
I can’t wait to step into the fray, add my own quota alongside with other people, men and women of goodwill who want Nigeria to stop being a potentially great nation, to work for that great nation to manifest. Responsibility is a price of greatness and if we are responsible, we should think deep alongside with others and create a blueprint that will transform Nigeria.
So, what exactly did you say about Joe Biden?
I said look at Joe Biden. Everyone more or less, wrote him off. They called him Sleepy Joe. They said he even made a blunder choosing a black lady (Kamala Harris) who joined lesbians together as husband and wife as his running mate. So, Biden had lost that election before it happened. Many evangelists and churches also stood by Donald Trump saying he will win a second term. Joe Biden looked harmless but he won the election. Go and investigate, the bulk of the voters are young people. God will raise young princes of this nation who will do what is right very soon. That is the context in which I narrated what I said.
I have no relationship with Joe Biden or with Donald Trump but we know that whatever happens in America can have a domino effect on the entire world. So, if Joe Biden who nobody thought could muster any serious support ended up with the number of millions of votes he got, then we have to be careful in writing people off. Although Biden had unique experience, not only as a Senator but also as a former Vice-President for eight years and he has attempted these thrice, He lost the primary twice. When the time comes, he has it. President Buhari tried three different times until he got it in the fourth time.
You were a card-carrying member of CPC and you also played a crucial role in the formation of APC. Are you a member of APC now?
I was the one who moved the motion for the merger of CPC at Eagles Square in Abuja. After that motion and APC came into manifestation, I told the President that there are people within the newly formed APC who are scared of his relationship with me. The President did not want me to go but I said to him that we cannot have four legacy parties and one of those four legacy parties will produce both the presidential candidate and his running mate. It is better for me to step into the background and will still be the friend of the President. In the letter he wrote to my wife for her 60th birthday, he said ‘Thank you for standing by my brother and friend’. There is no greater honour the President of a country can do for you more than that. So, when we were about to finish and he said ‘what party will you belong to?’ I said if they ask me this question, I will have a constant answer; I belong to APC Daura branch.
You have led several protests against anti-people policies in the past through Save Nigeria Group (SNG). A lot Nigerians are asking, why were you silent during the recent #EndSARS protest?
Well, I’m glad you asked very intelligent questions. I like it when journalists know their onion. One of the few journalists I still respect greatly in this world is Christiane Amanpour. ‘ A Man Poured Her’ and she asked salient questions. So, I will give you honest answer. I am not a regular activist and I am not saying being an activist is wrong. That is not who I am. I marched the streets in my university days during the ‘Ali Must Go’ saga. After that, I stopped marching, until God revealed a dream and a vision to me in 23rd of December 2009 and 2nd of January 2010. Those two encounters with God led me to call all the available Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to Sheraton Hotel. I thought they will be few so we booked for a restaurant that will seat about 50 people. When people turned up huge, Sheraton upgraded us to their banquet hall without asking for extra charge. It was there I presented the two dreams and I said it’s time to take our nation back from those who are hijacking power. By God’s grace, Save Nigeria Group (SNG) was born in that room. That was the first day I saw Femi Falana physically in my life in 2010. I remembered what he said that day. He said in order to march; we need to get people from everywhere. He said he will volunteer to go and get people from Ekiti state. I told him he will not need to do that because we are going to Abuja to march first. I remembered Yerima Shetimma from Arewa said ‘This is not your regular crusade, pastor. This will be your first march and it will flop’. I said if God has sent me, it cannot flop because He does not sponsor a flop. So, we met in Abuja. Majority of those in Abuja were Christians. They came from different churches and especially from Family Worship Centre pastored by Pastor Sarah Omakwu and some of my sons and daughters of the faith from Kaduna, Jos and other places. When they came and saw the crowd, they were stunned and were asking ‘How could this person pull this together?’ I remembered then the national chairman of PDP, Vincent Ogbulafor, he said we were just having a parade. Few days after, he was removed as national chairman and he lost his seat. We came to Lagos and did the same thing. Then, we went back to Abuja to stop the Senate. At that time, the Doctrine of Necessity surfaced and Goodluck Jonathan became the Acting President. Let me say this to you for the record- Before I marched and led Save Nigeria Group to do it, I never met President Jonathan and nobody from his government approached me. God showed me things and I followed the instructions of the vision that I saw. Thereafter, we met President Jonathan and when he said anyone trying to do restructuring should go back to 1914, we went to him to say we are parting ways. That was the day they sent $50,000 after me and we returned it and said ‘No, I didn’t come here for money’.
Where is Save Nigeria Group at the moment?
You are asking where Save Nigeria Group is at the moment. What they did at that time was to raise another Save Nigeria Group that they registered to begin to counter us because they saw we had said we are parting ways with them, and especially after the Ojota issue when they increased the pump price after saying that they will go round the country, do Town Hall meetings and they gave it as a horrible surprise to Nigerians on January 1st 2012, I summoned the troop again and we went to Ojota. After five days of protests, it climbed down. Thereafter, I still became very close to President Jonathan and I helped the best way I could to ensure a smooth transition in this country. I didn’t do those things for what I could benefit or gain materially. I didn’t go to him for anything, not a license for radio , television or anything at all. When he asked what could he give me, I said he should give me a pen; on the Montblanc pen, it was written ‘from GEJ to GBB’ (Gbolahan Babatunde Bakare)’. That’s me! I did those things not for what I could get. But when they now filed and quickly registered a new Save Nigeria Group, putting Tony Uranta as one of the trustees and said they have removed us, I left. I am not in their class. I don’t struggle for things like that. I had an NGO that I was running, International Centre for Reconstruction and Development long before this time that was registered in 2007. It is a knowledge industry and a propositional platform to see what is wrong in the society and to put it side-by-side with what is right and give it to government free of charge whenever we do our research. That’s what informed my State of the Nation broadcast twice a year. That’s the truth about what transpired then.
Why didn’t you march or lead or join the protesters now?
Because this is another season and it is the turn of young people to take their destinies in their own hands. Check what I’m about to tell you because there are people who took snapshots. I participated in this #EndSARS march in Abuja when lawyers blocked the Attorney General and Minister of Justice’s office. I went there and spoke to them. I went to the Attorney-General and spoke to him and they disperse. I don’t do things for publicity stunt so that people could see me. Deep rivers flow in majestic silence.