Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly in an interview speaks on the reason he fought with Bishop Oyedepo, his experience as a running mate to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari at the 2011 general elections amongst other issues.
In this interview with Adeola Balogun, Nonye Ben-Nwankwo, Pastor Tunde Bakare opens up
On his take on anointing oil
People like to create their own Tunde Bakare. I love God, I love people, I love the godly and the ungodly and I try within my God-given ability to teach the truth. The reason I fought with my friend, Bishop David Oyedepo, and tore his book, I remember when we resolved this problem in London, we came out of a plane, he took me aside and said he was angry with me because I tore his book. I said I didn’t tear your book, I tore my book.
That is fine, you wrote it, I bought it, so it was my book I tore. I saw errors in that book because he said the anointing oil is not a symbol of the Holy Spirit that it is the life of God in a bottle. How can you write that and I would let it pass.
No! If the anointing oil is the Holy Spirit, then Jesus is a lamb walking on four legs. These are metaphors and when you have the real, you leave the shadow. Besides it is for the sick in the New Testament. So, you can anoint the entire church if they are sick and I would wonder how a sick church can bring healing to a dying world.
On his participation at the national conference
Number one, I didn’t select myself; I didn’t force myself on the government. I represented the South-West geo-political zone. When the elders met, they put my name down. I pleaded with them that I would not even have the time. But they insisted that they wanted me there and you don’t reject your elders if they feel you have something to contribute or they consider that you are relevant.
Two, while I was still battling with who will represent me at the conference, the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, also put forward my name. At that point I decided to give it a chance. But I gave a condition and that condition was that I would not take a penny from the conference; I would not be given any allowance and I wrote a letter to that effect and they replied me. I did this so that if anything went wrong, I would retain my freedom to express myself freely. That does not mean others who took the allowance are bad people. No! We see things from different perspectives. Staying in Abuja is very expensive. I won’t tell you how much I spent but I travelled on each occasion with my research team and about three to four staff and we stayed in a suite which is quite expensive.
On if he has joined politics again
I have never joined politics. I am a nation builder, I am not a politician. I sleep well, I wake up well. I have no ambition; there is no desire to be anything in politics. All I want to see is a nation that works. If you ask me today if I am seeking any elective office, my answer will be no. I was asked to be a running mate to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, I was not looking forward to it at all. But if I am beckoned upon to do something, I will pray about it and if I see that it does not negate what I stand for and believe in, why not? The truth is that if good people don’t participate in politics, then we will continue to endure the rule of idiots.
On if asked God and was told to go ahead to be Buhari’s running mate
Several times Paul would say in the Bible that “this is I speaking but not the spirit of God even though I have the spirit of God in me.” With every sense of modesty, a man like me would not jump without looking. If you don’t look and you leap, you can leap into disaster that would backfire on you and everything you stand for in the society. When my book is out, it would be clear to all the process it took for me to be a running mate.
I sat in my house, leading a group called Arrow Heads which is already public knowledge after Mallam Nasir El-Rufai wrote about it in his book, ‘Accidental Public Servant.’ We gathered a group of Nigerians we felt could make a change in our clime. People like Oby Ezekwesili, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Donald Duke, Nasir El-Rufai, Nuhu Ribadu, Fola Adeola, Jimi Lawal, Yinka Odumakin, Jimi Agbaje, Wale Osun and a few others.
We said to ourselves that we should form the Arrow Heads to produce a change. And when I was given the privilege of being the chairperson of that group, I told them I would only accept on two conditions. Number one, that I would not join any political party and number two, I would not seek any elective office so that if there is a dispute, I can effectively resolve it. Those around me know that I have no desire for a political office but those who don’t know me think I am an opportunist.
Gen. Buhari called me on January 15 of that year and said, that he had done his own little prayers and he wanted to ask me to be his running mate. I told him I couldn’t because I lead a group and I had given them my word and that my word is my bond. I also told him that I had no desire for a political office; all I wanted to see was a change and be among those who work behind the scene. So, Gen. Buhari asked me to pray about it that he would get back to me. Within six or seven hours, he called back and I told him that I had not consulted my people. The first person I called among others was my wife and daughter and then spoke to Pastor Adeboye twice on it.
Speaking further, Pastor Tunde Bakare said
You see people don’t know things that happen behind the scene. I spoke to him twice and he said look, don’t be afraid, step in there, whether you win or lose, God is taking you somewhere. I didn’t jump because of that. I spoke to my mother and she said she had a dream about it six months before; I still didn’t jump. I thought it would be unfair not to tell Bola Tinubu because I had been brokering some things between the then Action Congress and the Congress for Progressive Change before the AC became ACN. So, I called Tinubu in the presence of Jimi Agbaje and Yinka Odumakin. I said to him that Gen. Buhari had called to offer this, give me a Christian from your group so that I can present to him. I invited the former governor of Ekiti State, Niyi Adebayo to my house and told him that he would be a better person to handle this. Both of us were in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos at the same time. So, I looked for every way not to take Buhari’s offer and I didn’t fill the form. I took my team and went to the General and asked him why he wanted me to be his running mate. He said three things, “your passion for Nigeria. You have been a Muslim before, you are a Christian now. You have lived in the North, you were born in the South, you understand the geography and I think you can be a positive influence to pull the nation together. Number two, your integrity, number three, supposing I die in office like Yar’Adua, I want someone who would not sell out, who would still continue my vision for this country.” Still, I didn’t fill the form.
I went to El-Rufai’s house, we sat down there and he encouraged me to take it and I said I was not taking it. I told him I needed to clear a particular thing in my heart. Everyone who had been assistant to Gen. Buhari died before him. Tunde Idiagbon is gone, Okadigbo is gone, Ume-Ezeoke is gone, why do I want to go and put my head in a death sentence. I need to know what is responsible for that, so I can’t just jump, I will need to pray through. I told Gen. Buhari the same thing I am saying now.
The day before the final submission of names, former President Olusegun Obasanjo told El-Rufai that he was ready to support Buhari if he could drop me and replace me with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as his running mate. El-Rufai ran to me, that this was what Obasanjo said. The three of us were in the same hotel but in different suites. We went straight to Gen. Buhari and I said to him that breakthrough had come. I told him I had not filled the form and that there were five reasons why he must take Okonjo-Iweala. Number one, she is Delta-Igbo, you would have solved the problem of South-East/South-South. Number two, she’s a woman, you have settled the gender issue. Number three, Christian, balanced ticket. Number four, a former minister of finance and former minister of external affairs, experience which I don’t have. Number five, World Bank top executive, international exposure. Even though I have travelled round the world, I have not worked in any organisation, she is a better candidate. This is the form, I have not filled it. General Buhari looked at me and said did Obasanjo speak to you and I said no that he spoke to El-Rufai and I believe him. And he asked El-Rufai to repeat everything Obasanjo said to him and he did. He said to El-Rufai that well, you have worked with him and I have worked with him too, he would have something up his sleeves which we don’t know. Buhari turned to me and said, Pastor Bakare, I have waited long enough and today is the last day, if you are not going to fill the form, give it to me, I will look for someone until we can get a person like you. At that point, I became overwhelmed and I signed the form and El-Rufai seconded. That was the process; it was not an overnight thing.
On if he has any regrets accepting that offer
Not at all. If I have the chance, I will do it again. Buhari is an incorruptible leader. He is a man whose word is his bond. He is a reliable person and he loves this country. I don’t flatter people and you know I fought almost all military impostors in this country; there was a time I couldn’t stand any of them. But getting close to him, I realised he loves Christians as much as he loves Muslims.
For those who said why Buhari? I remember Adunni Abimbola Adelakun, she wrote why can’t Bakare run as President? Why do you have to be a running mate? I just laughed when I read that. Don’t forget that Joseph served Pharaoh, Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar, and we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, so you can maintain contact without contamination. Anything that would contribute to the wellbeing of the people of this country, as much as God gives me the grace, I would do it.
On if President Jonathan was still on a mission to ruin Nigeria as quoted in 2012
You do not separate a statement and body of facts that led to that statement. President Jonathan himself is a victim of circumstances. Who groomed him for what he is doing? I think he has had to learn on the job. Whether he is learning fast or is taking his time, is for others to comment. I marched on the streets of Abuja, Lagos, led Save Nigeria Group in different campaigns for him to become Acting President and he subsequently became the President of Nigeria.
He is alive, if I have taken a dime from him for anything, he can say. Not that they would not want to be a blessing to me but I don’t take. My hands have provided enough for me. I am contented. I have had the privilege of sitting with the President this year about five times and it is always about how to move the nation forward. I remember when the President wanted to see me; I called Gen. Buhari immediately to inform him about the invitation because I don’t double-deal. I am a loyal person and I made the President know that I informed Gen. Buhari before coming for that particular meeting. The things he said to me are not for now; they would come out at the appropriate time.
I think Jonathan is honestly doing his best but history would judge whether his best is good enough. The Nigerian issue is complex. It requires a level of capability and dynamism and that is not common among the current politicians.
On if Nigerian Churches being a Theatre applies to him
It doesn’t. I said the difference between the cinema and the church in Nigeria is that for the cinema you pay a gate fee before you enter but in the church, they let you come in before they take from you. When the youth pastor was ministering today, I said wow, if I am out of here today, these people can continue.
It would be recalled Pastor Tunde had stated his stand on the use of Anointing oil saying:
“I am not against Anointing Oil. The thing is, it’s a Jewish Culture. They rub it on their bodies as protection against insects like your mosquito repellents. It was used extensively in the old testament for anointing …It is the power of God that heals, not the Oil”.