I have been silent since the completion of the All Progressives Congress (APC) merger, but this should not be interpreted to mean a stylish disengagement from politics. NO, I can never stop commenting on political issues.
When I was very young, I took absolute trust in Egungun masquerade. I was a Muslim then, I wasn’t born a Christian. We have different types of masquerades then, but there is this particular one called Danselewa, it was a small masquerade and it usually goes about begging alms and using sticks to fight and then scared people away. But when the big masquerade (egun agba), that is, the masquerade meant for the older ones comes, it usually comes out once in a year or once in three years, among such bigger masquerades we had the Oloolu and when they speak, the ground shakes.
One cannot be speaking anyhow, there are people who speak because they have something to say and there are those who speak because they have to say something, but that does not take the shine away from those who are constantly speaking, because if they don’t keep on speaking, they (the politicians) will grind this nation into a hole.
I choose to speak when God speaks to me, or whenever I have something important to say. Therefore, I am not shying away from political commentary.
Since the amalgamation of the parties into APC, I have not said much, does that mean I am shying away from politics; or stylishly running away from political participation?
By the grace of God, I am not the type who stylishly does something. I say what I want to say when I want to say it by the grace of God. No one can make me to say what I don’t want to say and no one can also make me to say what needed to be said, but there is a noble silence.
Publicly, I moved the motion for the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). The spirit behind that when we were deliberating, was all these smaller parties, not in terms of quality, but smaller in terms of coverage should join hands. For instance, General Muhammadu Buhari had12 million votes in the 2011 presidential election, you cannot rubbish that party. He was second at the national election, but we said that Labour Party alone, CPC alone and ACN alone fighting their single battles against the PDP could never dislodge the PDP. The spirit behind it was, let’s form a merger between ACN and CPC, so that the North West and the South West can shake hands for the first time in a very long time of Nigeria’s political history.
Personally, and I say personally because I like to be quoted personally, at that point in time, we did not consider the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), but somehow before the whole thing was concluded, ANPP and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), according to the leader of ACN (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) and even some other organisations that were not named, became part of the merger. At that point in time, some had even gone to be speaking on behalf of the new group, I wasn’t given that responsibility to be speaking on what I am not mandated to speak about, because that would be tantamount to seeking for any position or seeking for a role to play. Whatever the Almighty has given me, you don’t need to be pushing for anything, so, I decided not to pass any comment because it was not my character to speak anyhow.
In saying this I do you mean to say that some people were taking unilateral actions towards the formation of the party, and so I decided to remain silent, No. There are several ways to look at the issue. You have to be pragmatic when it comes to the issue of politics. In life if you don’t choose you lose. I believe very strongly that a destructive means cannot bring about a constructive end. If we are going to sweep clean the polity, and bring righteous standard to bare upon how we serve our people and run our nation, God forbid that I be found anywhere where everything I stood against in my life, now becomes acceptable norm. He who preaches equity must not be equitable. He who comes to equity must come with a clean hand. I am not calling anyone dirty, but there are some issues we oppose in our lives and we have made those issues the cardinal principles of our struggle for national rebirth.
For example, the restructuring of Nigeria along true federal principles, any party that belittles that, any party that says the constitution of Nigeria as currently constituted is okay, you won’t find me in that party. No matter the name or the label, because that is the enabling instrument, more or less the manifesto of such a party. God can bring people to power with or without election. We prefer the electoral process, but if they think they can hold on, fight and feed their greed on Nigerians by hook or crook, God rules in the affairs of men. I said here publicly, I would never loose sight of God and the side of those who work day and night for the progress of this nation. You will never find me in the company of those whose greed motivates their alliances and what they do.
On whether I see the APC as credible alternative to the PDP, particularly with the type of people the party is currently fraternizing with, let me put it this way, if you take on a Sango (god of thunder) worshiper and tell him he is an idolater, he might not agree with you. He could tell you he is also worshiping God, but going through Sango.
If you go to an Ogun worshiper (god of iron) or someone who derives inspiration from
Ogun and say, ‘you are a heathen,’ he will tell you, ‘you think so, but I don’t think so. I know what it is worth for me and that is why we still have among Yoruba today some names like Ogundele, Ogunbiyi, Ogun this and that.’
If you go to someone who is a Christian, he will also tell you there is only one way to God and that is what I say about belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, but to a Muslim, he will describe the way he worships God. I am using that as illustration. Politicians don’t think like statesmen. Some of them are in politics and their belief is, ‘let us secure power first and then we start thinking of how we correct anything.’ They say until we secure power, we cannot change politics, so, whomever we will fraternize with, let us fraternize with them. Whatever the objectives are when we get there, then we shall be able to change things, that is the way politicians think.
But there are nobles who know that by the time you gather power by hook or crook, the people you surround yourself with would create and impose a particular direction that you do not subscribe to. But two cannot work together except they agree.
Let me tell you where I am and get it clear. There are magicians in Babylon, there are astrologers in Babylon there are Chaldians in Babylon, but Daniel and his company are uncommon nonconformists. At the end of the day when God was going to show whom He trusts, the king had a dream he could not remember, talk less of seeking interpretation. But Daniel, through the mercy of God, was not only able to recall the dream but he gave the interpretations to it and at the end of the day the lives of the magicians went for it. Let the politicians keep on politicking, let them continue to make the connections and joining all the wires, at the end of the day, the will of God will prevail.
If the objective, as they said is simply to take over power and they have not shown us – I am talking of all the parties now – exactly what change they would bring, then I will rather counsel you not to expect any change. It would be business as usual.
I am a Christian and I speak from scriptural point of view; the moment David, as powerful as he was – the one who killed Goliath, and under whose leaderships all the giants in the land were killed – the moment he compromised by sleeping with Bathsheba, and killed Uriah, her husband, he became weakened in his kingdom. The head of his army, Joab and other strong men around him began to cage him. One day, David got up and said, ‘I am King in Israel but these sons of Dehula are too powerful for me.’ These are what you get when you go into alliances with people of no value. No matter how clean you are, when you jump into a sewage tank you cannot come out clean again.
God is still interested in this nation. God rules in the affairs of men. God does not abandon His responsibilities over the earth. Jesus is the Governor among the nations. The human representatives merely represent Him and the Bible makes it clear God appoints kings. God is interested in Nigeria. As I have said He will still have mercy upon this nation.
Is Goodluck Jonathan administration delivering in terms of good governance?
I have had the opportunity of saying this to the President and to the Presidency in the past and in recent times. When Jonathan was the vice president, before he became the acting president of Nigeria, Nigeria was in a serious crisis and by the grace of God we mobilised under the banner of Save Nigeria Group (SNG). Many people would not know that when we marched in Abuja that was the first time I came close to Prof. Wole Soyinka.
Men of Goodwill rose up without any reference to religion and ethnicity to insist that the Constitution be followed. The same day we were marching the streets, the likes of Gen. Buhari, Balarabe Musa and Atiku Abubakar went to the floor of the Senate to give a joint letter that the Constitution must be followed.
At the back of my mind and in terms of those who were in the NGO movements, if a leader could emerge from the minority group without godfatherism to get the highest position in Nigeria, then the future would be bright for this country; because, then anyone with enough mental capacity who is fit and competent can aspire to contribute meaningfully to the development of our nation. It was that spirit that drove us eventually to close ranks in the protest.
Then, all that have happened since then, some, you could say, Mr. President haba! Why this, if you are coming from a background of degradation, why are you not trying to make life better for the poor? We said that. I have also read all kinds of scorecards from the people, those who used to be part of the government and those who are not in government; all is that the man had performed woefully. But he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches.
If I look around also, I see other things that we begin to thank God for. Firstly we can complain about the electricity, but it did not start with Jonathan, corruption did not start with him. We can point at Boko Haram insurgence, but the crisis did not start with him. So, the failure of government in Nigeria is very systemic. Tree has fallen upon trees and it will take years of continuous rebuilding to fix the problems of the country.
That he has done so well, I never said so; I expected him to do more, but I cannot condemn him for the problems he inherited because we have to look and examine the administration of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who spent eight years in office, the extremely powerful cabinet he was able to build with the characters he attracted to himself. Can we say that he performed exceedingly well? Yes, he left some money in the foreign reserves; I think Obasanjo caused the crises we found ourselves today in the country.
This man Obasanjo recently wrote a letter to Jonathan, but the content of the letter is the mirror of Obasanjo himself. We cannot blame all the woes in the country on Jonathan, as if he is floating and fluctuating. I passed a commentary recently when cows were distributed; I got from the federal government, from governors and from the Director of the State Security Services (SSS), I thanked them for the cows, but I did say that what Nigerians need today is good governance.
I think they are coming out to show us what they have done and what they are doing, and we need to look at the opportunity Jonathan has, the available resources and the issues of good governance side by side.
There is one area where Jonathan seems to be scoring a high mark with those of us who fought for the restructuring of Nigeria. If he could go through and be focused and ensure that the National Dialogue he is proposing, if he sincerely focuses and attracts more people with good intention to sit down on the table of brotherhood to discuss the future of our nation, perhaps that would be his greatest legacy.
That in his time, Nigerians were able to sit and make a new constitution that is the people’s constitution, restructure the country and allow true federalism to prevail and then each of the regions eventually begins to operate so that we bring this situation of monopoly or what I will call mono-structure economy to an end and each one would begin to look at the resources within their domain to compete and to serve their people better. I do not know the indices we can use because I am not in a place to see everything, but I do know it can be better.
He, the president has said that the outcome of the conference would be passed to the National Assembly for debate as part of the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution. What Mr. President said was his opinion; it does not have the force of law.
Why? Jonathan is a Nigerian, if tomorrow there is election, the President would only have one vote. Let us wait, if all men of goodwill now say let us fix our nation, and change the conference; that Mr. President’s opinion is not the way forward, sovereignty is with the people and they have the final say. The government itself cannot use arbitrary power to say no to the will of the people, and if decides to do otherwise, he might be undoing everything that would be his legacy.
The United States had predicted that Nigeria is going to disintegrate in 2015. That prediction of America is not the sayings of God. I did not actually know whether the American government said that, it wasn’t the opinion of the President of America, nor it was that of the American Congress. It was the views of some experts and some people who had interest in the country, who, looking at the way things were going said what they felt about the situation. I do not see us separating, but I am not also rubbishing that prediction.
If you recall, the SSS paid me a courtesy visit and invited me to their office after I gave a public lecture in the church during one of our Sunday services on how to change government peacefully. I gave a four- way suggestion that will possibly lead us out of our dilemma as a nation. One of the things I said then was that I cannot see 2015, but that I saw 2014. Two years after, the great man of God, Pastor Adejare Adeboye, had also said 2014 would determine the future of Nigeria.
This year is loaded, with the elections coming in Ekiti and Osun states, those elections would tell the future of Nigeria and perhaps the greater need of those who differ in their opinion as to whether the national conference should come before the 2015 elections or vice versa. Some say the conference is a diversionary means. The question is what has the previous elections produced in Nigeria?
Let us go back to 1979 Elections; it was a military handing over to civilians. Obasanjo handed over power to Alhaji Shehu Shagari and he did say then that the best candidate will not win that election. What did the 1979 elections produce? It produced the Shagari that took us back to the military and then military succession and the Brigade Commander on the day Obasanjo handed over power to Shagari, (Abdulsalam Abubakar), who was the Head of State later handed over power to Obasanjo in 1999. One election after the other has not been better since then.
I would have respected the present government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), if Justice Salami’s order that the documents used for the 2011 elections be brought for forensic investigations was heeded. But they did not heed the order of the Justice. I would have said Jonathan won the 2011 elections if they did what the Justice said and we wouldn’t have been where we are today; some people won’t be challenging his authority to preside over our affairs.
Nigeria has never had credible elections. Fine we had credible voting sometimes, but not credible elections. The only time we had credible election was in 1993 when Nigerians got completely tired of military rule and that election was also annulled by the military.
So if past elections did not produce any tangible result or quality candidate for Nigeria, that would bring the best of the North and the South and the brightest of the future among us, the implication is that the present constitution we operate can never produce quality election, so we need to sit down and talk first. Those who differ have their opinions as well. But if we put the cart before the horse one more time, we would be singing goodbye. God forbids that Nigeria scatters.
Some will tell me that I said the same thing in 2011 and here we are in 2014; is anything wrong with my predictions?
My answer is this: there is a difference between what I am saying and what God is saying. God’s words will not go unfulfilled. You will see that I am careful, when God speaks or I speak directly through prophetic anointing concerning our situation, I will tell you thus says the Lord, but when it is my opinion based on what I see that are going on, I don’t think it will augur well to say thus says the Lord. But let me tell you one thing I believe very firmly, Nigeria will survive, Nigeria will flourish, Nigeria will not disintegrate but to avert this disintegration, let us sit and talk. Two cannot walk together except they agree.
Tunde Bakare is the senior Pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, and vice presidential candidate to General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in the 2011 presidential election