Pastor Bakare is right except for urging President Buhari to anoint his successor, argues Adewale Kupoluyi

Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare is a common name in this part of the world. He is a lawyer, right activist, teacher, author, and President, Latter Rain Assembly (End-Time Church). In a state of the nation broadcast themed; “Unveiling the True Enemies of Nigeria”, he offered rich moments to ruminate over our national life by going down memory lane into the political history of African most populous country.

Bakare has identified his perceived true enemies of Nigeria among every level of government, from the local to the state to the federal levels, and in every arm of government. They can also be found on the streets, in households and in the marketplace. The true enemies of Nigeria are those who seek to build their greatness upon their country’s ruin. In Nigeria, the vast majority of our people regularly take turns perpetuating the cycle of corruption either as beneficiaries or benefactors.

According to the pastor, these enemies in citizens’ clothing are those that choose to be spectators while the nation goes down the drain on their watch; those perverts on the pulpit, who hide under togas of godliness to manipulate the vulnerable; those economic behemoths, who window dress their underhandedness with filthlanthropy; those who sell their votes or connive with political bandits to short-change their children’s children; those who partake of loot and celebrate looters from the same ethnic group or religious organisation. These are the true enemies of Nigeria, he argued.

At the local level of government, the true enemies of our nation are those agents of oppression, who place excruciating multiple tax burdens on often defenceless Nigerians – the petty traders, okada riders, keke drivers, bricklayers, pepper grinders, carpenters, vulcanisers, mechanics and other artisans – not because they want to amass the proceeds for the benefit of the people, but because they must make remittances to their morally bankrupt political benefactors. These are the true enemies of Nigeria, he added.

At the state level, the true enemies of Nigeria are those state governments that feed fat on unaccounted-for security votes; those who deploy the paraphernalia of office in their selfish interests rather than in the service of the people; those who connive with zonal political oligarchs to personalise and privatise the state; those who deploy the force of state to quell dissent; those who paralyse local governance structures in such a manner that discredits genuine arguments for restructuring and devolution of powers; those who give critics an excuse to postulate that if state governments are already abusing the little power they currently wield. These power-drunk state officials are the true enemies of Nigeria, he maintained. Yes, he is right.

At the zonal level, the said enemies of Nigeria are those who have perverted their influence and turned the states within their zones of influence into personal estates. For him, they are the political puppeteers, who rig the system to enthrone their stooges and use them to corner resources and opportunities. They are the political bandits and pseudo-democrats, who are maniacalin and merchandising the will of the people, from masterminding vote-buying to engineering seemingly spontaneous outbreaks of political violence. These are the true enemies of Nigeria. At the federal level, the true enemies of Nigeria are in every arm of government. In the judiciary, they are the judges, who pervert justice and auction judgments to the highest bidder. Agreed.

Speaking further, the cleric disclosed that in the legislature, the enemies of Nigeria are those legislators that rob the nation under the guise of constituency projects and are quick to pass laws that undermine our national freedoms, thereby threatening our national stability. In the executive arm of government, the enemies of our nation are those who deploy the machinery of state against hapless citizens in a bid to protect their political careers.

These are the true enemies that we must stand up against, not the angry young fellow, who throws salvos at Mr. President hoping to get a few retweets, not the journalist who stares the government squarely in the face, and certainly not the dissenting voice in the midst of sycophants. Yes, I also agree with Bakare.

I concur with the man of God when he said providing strong leadership means determining the most pertinent objectives of nation-building and, like a laser beam, converging all the energies of state onto those critical areas. It is also true that strong leadership means accepting dissent voices and listening to contrary views while making decisions in the best interest of the Nigerian people, and that to cultivate strong leadership, the leader must surround himself or herself with the best, brightest and most competent, particularly those who are more intelligent than oneself.

Perhaps, Bakare’s most salient point was the highlighting of the need for strong institutions. I reasoned with him that the focal objective in these last three years of the Buhari administration should be to strengthen institutions such as the judiciary by the adherence to rule of law, human rights, and respect for court judgments. Certainly, those who desecrate the courts must be brought to book to restore the sanctity and independence of the judiciary. It is trite that we must also strengthen institutions of accountability by enforcing transparency in government revenue and expenditure.

It is in view of the above that, the Nigerian state must strengthen institutions of human development by laying the groundwork for effective education and healthcare policies. Not only that, we must strengthen institutions of economic growth through geo-economic re-organisation as well as pragmatic fiscal and monetary policies. To strengthen these institutions, we must codify best practices while embracing innovation. We must also run inclusive structures that bridge trans-generational and gender gaps to ensure that the baton of success is passed on from one generation to another. This is the right way to go.

Bakare appears to have contradicted himself when he said, “Finally, as the government of President Muhammadu Buhari ushers us into the second decade of the 21st century, the third pivotal objective of governance should be to build a strong post-Buhari legacy facilitated by accurate succession. In this regard, Nigeria must learn from some of the best succession examples in recent history. Therefore, even as we build institutions of democratic governance, a key responsibility that history has bestowed on President Buhari at this turning point in our journey to nationhood is to institutionalise systems of accurate succession”.

I completely disagree with Bakare on this critical recommendation. The examples he used such as Deng Xiaoping, a second-generation Chinese leader, who laid the foundation for today’s China; South African Nelson Mandela, who stepped aside after one term, but not without positioning the likes of Thabo Mbeki, and Cyril Ramaphosa were bred in completely different socio-political milieu of stronger institutions unlike our highly neo-patrimonial society. The identified leaders also had their doses of stigma. Buhari should not anoint any leader for Nigerians. The people should be allowed to freely do so with strong electoral process that his administration should bequeath.

I completely reasoned with the pastor that “These young Nigerians, who have found their voices on social media are not the enemies of Nigeria. They are the hope of our nation. They are simply expressing the character of our DNA and the virtues that gave us independence – virtues such as the audacity to assemble as communities, including online communities, and to voice their opposition to corruption and oppression. If social media had been invented in the days of our founding fathers, they would have deployed the tool in resisting colonial rule and fighting for our independence, just as they effectively deployed conventional media such as newspapers to achieve these objectives”.

Concluding the discourse, it is when we have genuine strong state institutions that Nigeria can truly rise from our slumber at the turn of a new decade to become the architect of a new coalition that would facilitate the emergence of a New Nigeria. Now is the time to put aside religious, zonal, ethnic and other differences and to speak with one voice against the enemies of our common patrimony. Yes. This is our collective aspiration. I also agree with Bakare on this in his 25-page treatise.

Kupoluyi wrote from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta