Last week Sunday we brought you the first part of the interview with radical senior Pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare. The pastor who is a delegate at the on going National Conference in Abuja fielded questions on the Conference and contemporary national issues. We now bring you the concluding part of the interview Excerpts.
I want to go to one famous statement you made years ago, about Obasanjo not being the Messiah Nigeria needs. Today, two of you are saying the same things about Jonathan, which gives the impression that you are now in the same camp (Cuts in) Obasanjo and I can never be in the same camp.
But he has washed up as the rallying point of critics of the present government? I am not criticising this government. I am not a critic. Obasanjo is doing what he is doing to protect his own head because he gave the weak and the sick to the nation. This is his legacy.
Who is the weak and who is the sick? You be the judge. That was what we said then. Obasanjo is not the messiah of this country. Obasanjo is just one of those who just received award like the others, like Abacha. They belong to the same camp. People deserve the leadership they get. That was the best available at the time. But we don’t need such leadership anymore.
Having given the weak and the sick to this nation. Would you say he is responsible for our woes now? I won’t blame Obasanjo for the woes of this nation, because President Jonathan himself has been in power for quite a while now. You can’t say he lacks experience. He has been a deputy governor, a governor, a vice president, and Ag president and for at least four years now been a president. He has some experience. You can’t call him a novice. So you can’t blame Obasanjo for the decisions Jonathan is making. Each leader must give account of his own stewardship.
Some people are saying the two years Yar’Adua left which he completed should be part of his term. And that, therefore disqualifies him (Jonathan) from seeking re-election in 2015?Is that true? Let the constitution be properly interpreted by those who are mandated by law to do so. Let the court of competent jurisdiction, make pronouncement on it, so that we can settle this issue once and for all. Take an action before the court. Nothing stops him from contesting election. If he can do so legitimately, he is a citizen of Nigeria. If I want to contest election, and I have a platform, and the court chooses me, I will run. So only those mandated by law to make pronouncement will continue to make it.
I want to look at 2015 now. Some people are already positioning themselves to slug it out under the ruling PDP or the APC. Assessing them, including the incumbent president, who do you think has the edge? Nigeria’s elections have never produced the best candidate. In 1979, Obasanjo laid the foundation that the best candidate may not win. And so, we have had mediocres preside over our affairs. The day, the best, the brightest and the fittest will take over the affairs of the nation, that day will become when the rule of law replaces the rule of men. When we become law abiding citizens, when our votes count, and not merely counted, then the electoral process is supervised and on the foundation of integrity on the foundation of credibility, when that happens, citizens can choose a candidate . That’s the day you expect the best to come into power. Right now, I do not see how any one that is not thorough will take anything. Power of incumbency is still there. Which of the parties is not full of all the riggings in the past. Very few of them you can point to, that they have leaders with credibility.
But the APC has been positioning itself as a better alternative to the PDP. Is it? APC just rolled out their manifesto. I encourage Nigerians to read it. But the hood does not make the monk. It depends on the candidate they will present. Jonathan made a lot of promises during election. But he came back to say they are not bound by those promises and nothing happened.
But some Nigerians insist that in terms of infrastructural development, he has done more than others in the past. Has he? What infrastructural development? Mention them.
Roads, Agriculture, etc. My cousin just somersaulted on Ife road because of bad road and died on the spot at the age of 56. Which roads? Agriculture? This and that. Have you felt the impact? I am not saying the government has not done anything, but to whom much is given, much more is expected. Do you understand me? Am I going to carry placard and be happy for the government that is doing road? That is the job of government. Am I going to be clapping and saying oh they have repaired our airports.
That’s their job. The problem is that in the past we could not hold these men accountable. And please before you say this party is better, let us look at what they are doing in their different domains now. Like I said, the hood does not make the monk. Manifesto does not translate into action itself. No matter how good your car is, the driver can destroy it. So if we have good drivers, if they present good candidates, and Nigerians vote for them. So be it. But they have a right to contest, they have a right to want or desire to have power. And so the incumbent, except otherwise disqualified has a right. In better climes, they will say may the better or best candidate win. But here we are told the best candidate may not win. That has been the philosophy of Obasanjo. That is the bedrock of Nigerian politics since 1979.
How do you look at the 2015 election? I am not optimistic about any election in Nigeria. That is my take on it. Infact 2011 compounded my cynicism.
That’s why we think, if we have a proper conference that will produce a blueprint, that will have a force of law, of peoples constitution, that will not be altered, maybe there will be hope. Outside of that, I am not excited. We have had elections, and will continue to have elections and you know, and the people know that elections don’t count in Nigeria and nobody will take them serious. Except people rise up in unison against election riggers. How many election riggers have been brought to book? Recently Jega was mentioning those who have perpetrated electoral fraud. How many of them have been sentenced? Where is the court that is judging them? Who is taking them to court? Across party lines, who are the culprits? We saw those who were captured in video thumb printing. Has everyone been brought to book? Before 2013, I have been saying, take care of 2014. 2014 will take care of 2015.
You were Gen Buhari’s running mate in 2011. Currently, nothing shows you are still in politics. Have you quit or you want to stay at the sidelines and watch for some time? It’s the linesmen that stay at the sidelines when football is played. They are watching and they are helping the referee. I am not a sideliner, neither am I the referee, because I don’t belong to INEC. I am not in any 11 on either side of those who are going to contest. As a citizen of the country, I believe we must investigate before you invest. When the right time comes, where I stand will be clear to all. Right now, I stand on my two feet on the side of God and the people of Nigeria.
Those following Obasanjo will end up in a ditch
If your people ask you to run for president, would you do that? Who are my people?
Your constituents You mean the church?
I mean your constituents back home It is neither here nor there.
Never in history, have we had a president that is so assailed by criticisms. Do you believe Jonathan is the worst president ever in Nigeria? It is easy to be critical than to correct. Criticism is the pasttime of many who have no job to do. Critique is the pasttime of those who want to contribute to the development of their nation. But the easy goers, they will raise the red flag that something is going wrong. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, when he was alive was not full of criticism. He was full of critique. He was warning them that disaster was ahead. And several times those disasters came to pass because they didn’t heed his warnings. Now, to call President Jonathan the worst President of Nigeria is unfair because I don’t know what we make of the military years of the locust.
Did corruption come on board today, or has it been there all along? What would you say of Shagari’s regime that was overthrown by Gen Mohammadu Buhari.? I read in a book recently where Gen Gowon said that the only thing you can trust Shagari with, is his ability and acumen to light his cigarette. When he stepped in as minister of finance, a position that Awolowo left, the shoe was too big for him. And yet he still became the president of Nigeria. Some said he is pathologically lazy. That’s not the type of leadership Nigeria needs. What would you say of Abacha?. I cannot judge Shonekan because he represented imperialist interests in Nigeria. They quickly looked for one of them from the days of UAC to step in, and they removed him with the force of the gun. There was not much except that he shows up now as a former head of state, but I don’t know his contribution. His contribution to the field of commerce perhaps. But not to governance in Nigeria. So those who are criticising President Jonathan should keep on doing so. I was a serious critic of his government, because some of the things we stood against on his behalf on impunity, we saw him perpetrate them. But we have seen the same man making adjustments now, and I want to say let’s give peace a chance, let’s come together and talk. Let’s see if we can move the nation forward. I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt because anyone can repent. But the day he is found to be corrupt and is supervising corruption, he also must be brought to book. It is as simple as ABC. He who plays the piper dictates the tune.
The SNG is not paid by anybody and I am not paid by anybody. I don’t think those who are going to the conference are paid by anybody. We want to see genuine change in our country. President Jonathan should not say because ‘I am criticised more than anyone else, it is affecting my performance’. No. The best answer and the best revenge in life is success. Make the best use of your time there and do more than others before you, then you will silence the critics forever.
If he is not the worst president ever, who then is? I don’t know. We had many terrible people who presided over Nigeria. Africa had been bedevilled by the likes of Idi Amin, Mobutu Seseseko, Kamuzu Banda. We had so many vagabonds in power as Fela said, who today have become extremely wealthy by running their country at the expense of their nation. Put all of them on a scale; very few of them will pass the test of leadership. In terms of material acquisition, how much were they worth in all the years they, spent in the military, collecting salaries and allowances. I understand, from Edwin Clarke, maybe he has information that we don’t have. He said that Obasanjo is the richest president in Africa, past, present and future. How did he come by this wealth?
Obasanjo has positioned himself as the rallying point of the opposition to this government. Anybody who follows Obasanjo will end up in a ditch. He is a ditch himself
Back to the National Conference, most of the delegates have vowed not to respect the no-go -areas like self determination and disintegration. Do you share their sentiments? They are at liberty to discuss what they want. But they cannot force their way on everybody. That is what the parley is all about. You bring your own idea, and you articulate and canvass them, and those who have superior thoughts bring their own too. At the end of the day a decision is taken. Two cannot walk together except they agree. Nigeria is for all of us. It is not for the North or South. If we cannot live peaceably, and have a peaceful co-existence, we don’t need to shoot ourselves to go our different ways. Soviet Union did not shoot one bullet but it dismembered. It will be very painful for some of us who believe that united we stand a better chance to pursue and perform leadership role in Africa and give hope to black men all over the world.
What do you say of state or regional police and regional military commanded by indigenes of the regions? Did we have regional police before? Is it a new idea? The military had a voluntary command before, but they have this their GOCs. Look at America. The military in America is one, but the police there is not one. They even have county police. The military is for external aggression and serious internal rebellion. Right now the military is doing the work of the police, because the police that you send to Yobe is from Anambra, and cannot understand the terrain, and the ones you send to Anambra is from Yobe and do not understand the terrain and the language.
Should the military commanders be indigenes of the area? It doesn’t matter. As long as they are competent and they fit the bill, why not? Their gender does not matter, their religion does not matter, their professionalism is what matters.
The insurgency in the North East, is the government handling it well? Look, count the number of the people in Aso villa, including the President. What is their strength? The issue of insurgency? The president sits in Abuja, he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He has the Chief of Army Staff and gives him responsibilities. The Chief of Army Staff calls a brigadier to lead 100,000 people to Yobe.
The local intelligence, the traditional rulers, the market women, know these people and can fish them out in a few seconds. If they are gathering intelligence properly, insurgency is not something that the president alone can face. Do you want Odi again? Do you want him to give a command and say go level that place and kill everyone within sight? Is that the solution to the problem? Won’t they see it as a southerner trying to decimate the North? Sending the military there and declaring state of emergency is part of it. Dialoguing with the people is also part of it. Obasanjo tried to play the role of a mediator. It back fired. Insurgency is not something that started now. In the same way which the Amnesty which I didn’t totally support, but it solved the problems of bursting pipelines, people surrendered their guns. Whether they picked them back, we don’t know. We made billionaires out of the militants. I don’t know how many people we have to grant Amnesty to if we give Boko Haram amnesty, and eventually other groups in the south will start their own trouble. And we go beg them. The Nigerian nation has a faulty foundation. Now the tail is wagging the dog, let’s face it and create a law that governs the situation, so that the rule of law will replace the rule of men. Don’t blame the president alone for the insurgency in the North. He is the commander in chief. Yes. He swore to protect lives and property of the citizens. But in this matter, all hands must be on deck.
With your vision, experience and intellect how do you see Nigeria in 2040? If we continue this way, we will not be anywhere, whether it is 2040 or 2050, because the destructiveness will not bring about a constructive end. But if we make an about turn and change our ways, and substitute rule of men with the rule of law, and meritocracy is the order of the day, justice and righteousness become the foundation of our country and no one is above the law, then we can see light at the end of the tunnel, a change in our country, and the country can progress. Anyone just pontificating about 2020 is probably blind to the present reality. The present reality is that we are in a mess. We need to correct the mess before we can make any tangible progress.