AN INTERVIEW WITH
Pastor TUNDE Bakare
ACCOMPANIED BY MR YINKA ODUMAKIN IN WASHIGTON, DC NigerianNews
As a Nigerian, you feel diminished
every time. Fifty years after independence, we still do not have a
political structure that can promote unity and national development
while also promoting our cultural diversity. Good governance continues
to elude us. Corruption is a major factor in the failure of leaders to
govern properly. Let us be frank with each other as Nigerians, we lack
good leadership skills. Our society is getting increasingly unsecured
and citizens are increasingly under siege at the hands of criminals.
If we do not respond proactively to this problem, anarchy and a
complete breakdown of law and order are just around the corner.
Dr. Tunde Bakare was born
in Abeokuta, Ogun State of Nigeria on November 11th 1954. He
studied law at the University of Lagos between 1977 and 1980
and after being called to the Bar in 1981 and following his
NYSC, he practiced law with Gani Fawehinmi Chambers and Rotimi
Williams & Co. He established his own law firm; Tunde Bakare &
Co (El-Shaddai Chambers) in October 1984.In May 1988 and at
the peak of his legal career, he succumbed to spiritual
calling and founded The Latter Rain Assembly (End-Time
Church) and is currently the Serving Overseer of the church.
L-R Mr. Yinka Odumakin, Pastor Bakare, Mrs Bakare, Ambassdor Adefuye,
Prof. Bolaji Aluko, Pastor
Dayo Adeoye, Pastor Jide Adeniji
In 2007, he established the International Centre for Reconstruction and Development (ICRD); a
knowledge industry/think-tank devoted to re-engineering the
social, economic and political landscape of Nigeria in particular
and Africa in general. Dr. Tunde Bakare is the Convener of the
Save Nigeria Group (SNG); a coalition of pro-democracy groups and
individuals with a clear mandate to promote political knowledge
and participation of the Nigerian citizens through strategic
Dr. Bakare was a guest
lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International
Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday November
3, 2010. He had aptly titled his lecture: "Pulling Nigeria From
the Brink". That was where NNEWS caught up with him and Yinka Odumakin,
another founding member of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and its
Yinka Odumakin was born 44
years ago in Ile-Ife, Osun State,Nigeria. He attended Obafemi
Awolowo University,Ile-ife where he graduated in 1989 with B.A (Hons)
English Studies. He thereafter did his one year National Youth
Service at Ogun State College of Education, Ijebu-ode where he was
offered automatic employment for outstanding performance.
The Town Hall Meeting was
followed by a group photograph with the visiting Pastor Bakare,
Mrs Bakare and Mr Yinka Odumakin
He was very active in the
pro-democracy movement in Nigeria following the annulment of June
12 presidential elections working within the National Democratic
Coalition (NADECO) and the Joint Action Committee of Nigeria(JACON)
In the last 11 years of civil rule in Nigeria, he has been the
spokesperson for the Pan Yoruba socio-political organization,Afenifere .
After listening to a two-hour
lecture in one of SAIS’ classrooms,
its fill of school rooms
but had not fulfilled that day’s mission of speaking with Dr. Bakare and Mr. Odumakin in an environment bereft of a crowd.
Fortunately, the two men and Mrs. Bakare had also had their fill
of a crowd and were anxious to return to their hotel rooms. We
left the madness of Washington DC’s Dupont Circle and settled in
the quiet of DC’s Woodley Park and the Omni Shoreham hotel’s
dining room. During a lazy ninety minutes of nibbling and talking,
Dr. Bakare answered without hesistation all the questions put to
L-R Pastor Tunde Bakare, Nuhu Ribadu and
Pastor Jide Adeniji
Molajo: Nigeria has just
celebrated fifty years of independence. What do you see as the
achievements and the pitfalls of the nation?
Bakare: I have benefited a
lot from the entity called Nigeria. It has afforded me a good
education. I am one of the grateful recipients of Obafemi
Awolowo’s free education initiative. I have also tried to pay
Nigeria back for the wonderful gifts it has bestowed upon me as
one of its citizens. This is the reason for a schiolarship program
which I initiated in 1985 and entirely funded from my own
resources. On the other hand, Nigeria hinders and diminishes great
potential. As a Nigerian, you feel diminished every time. Fifty
years after independence, we still do not have a political
structure that can promote unity and national development while
also promoting our cultural diversity. Good governance continues to
elude us. Corruption is a major factor in the failure of leaders
to govern properly. Let us be frank with each other as Nigerians,
we lack good leadership skills. Our society is getting
increasingly unsecured and citizens are increasingly under siege
at the hands of criminals. If we do not respond proactively to
this problem, anarchy and a complete breakdown of law and order
are just around the corner.
Molajo: Seventeen years after
the annulment of an election, the emergence of NADECO and the
death of Basorun M. K. Abiola, could you try to assess the nation
Bakare: Please remember that
in those days, the entire nation was tired of military rule. In
addition, we were all very happy with the candidacy of Basorun M. K. Abiola. He had his fingers on the pulse of the nation and could
articulate the needs of each stakeholder. However, Nigeria is an
insane society crippled by systemic failures of every variety.
Also, that election was the fairest we have ever conducted in that
nation. Therefore, you can understand why the whole country
erupted when they were denied the victory which they had worked so
hard for i.e., the emergence of MKO as the civilian
president-elect of Nigeria.
Molajo: Having said all that,
do you think that MKO could have delivered to the diversity of
constituents that embraced his candidacy?
Bakare: Yes. In fact, not
only did he make promises to the electorate on many issues, he
also laid out in great detail how each solution would be
implemented. Nigeria was thrown into the abyss when Babaginda and
the military annulled MKO’s victory at the ballot box.
Molajo: Without any bias
contemplated, who then would you consider to be most helpful to
the development of the Southwest? I mean without attention to
magnanimity and perception by the constituents of Awolowo, Abiola,
Bakare: Well, I can say
categorically that Obasanjo is the spoiler of the three. Don’t
forget the following facts and chronologically:
Obasanjo took over from
Adekunle on the war front.
Obasanjo handed power to
Obasanjo took power from
Definitely the worst of the
three leaders. The events I have just enumerated have
philosophical implications as you can see. Remember the old adage
i.e., abo oro ni a nso fun omoluwabi,
Molajo: Wole Soyinka. Has he
enhanced or diminished the influence of the democracy movement?
Bakare: You’ll have to pose
the question directly to him so that he might explain himself.
Molajo: Is Wole Soyinka in
touch with the pulse of the grassroot?
Bakare: No. His friends are the elite of Nigerian society.