Bakare: I Didn’t Ask Buhari to Handpick a Successor

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Tunde Bakare

Dike Onwuamaeze

The Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has stated that he never at any time within the course of the speech he delivered on January 5, 2020. asked President Muhammadu Buhari to hand pick his successor at the end of his tenure in 2023.

Bakare, who was Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 presidential election, insisted that he never uttered the word ‘successor’ during the speech that has raised a lot of dust in the build-up to the next presidential election.

According to the cleric, “My use of the word ‘succession’ has drawn curious reactions from various quarters. Apparently, and without my participation, it has been interpreted as my asking Buhari to foist his choice on Nigeria in flagrant disregard of democratic principles. I neither did this nor did I insinuate at any point that Buhari should ‘pick’ ‘choose’ ‘select’ or ‘handpick’ a successor as some news outlets have reported. My exact words were: ‘…the third pivotal objective of governance should be to build a strong post-Buhari legacy facilitated by accurate succession…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 that will build and sustain the Nigeria we desire. This is a task that must be done’.”

Bakare made this clarification yesterday in a statement he read in the church with the theme: ‘Much Ado About Succession’.

He said: “Following my State of the Nation address on January 5, 2020, I am constrained to make some brief clarifications due to the unrecognisable reconstruction of my utterances in the media, and the subsequent responses to these distortions.

“Speaking on the theme: ‘Unveiling the True Enemies of Nigeria,’ I surveyed in about an hour, the various forces militating against the emergence of Nigeria at the turn of a new decade. I highlighted the commendable efforts of our founding leaders in contrast with their wayward successors who occasionally resurface as democrats; I also highlighted the grave dangers of the proposed Social Media bill and an increasingly alarming tendency to clamp down on perceived dissent and opposition.

“I concluded by offering counsel to President Buhari on the three key areas of focus as his second and final term draws to a close, namely: Strong Leadership, Strong Institutions, and Strong Succession.”

Bakare insisted that there was no variance between his last week demand for strong succession and his earlier suggestion in October 2018 that: “We need leaders who have the mental fortitude to navigate the complexities of our national realities and conceive appropriate solutions to our national dilemmas; we need leaders who possess the power of execution and the ability to see to it that solutions are effected and policies implemented-this is the breed of leaders we need in 2019 and beyond.

“How much consideration have we given to leadership succession? Beyond 2019, who are those trusted hands in whose care we must place our beloved country? How can we begin to position such leaders in the current dispensation? Every serious political party must place these issues at the front burner. Any party that is unable to spell out its leadership selection criteria, as well as its long-term succession plan, should be rejected by Nigerians.”

He added that “again, the focus remains on systems of succession which I sought to highlight using the Singapore, China and South Africa examples, while being mindful of our local realities. This was clearly conveyed when I said: ‘As we build institutions of democratic governance’. I took this for granted anyone who was not mindful of this either did not read or listen to my remarks in context or deliberately chose to side-step that crucial detail and respond to a phantom non-issue.”

The cleric explained that his overriding concern in proposing this was to forestall the emergence of recycled enemies who would once again seek to lock us into a cycle of doom and gloom at the turn of a new decade.

“If we have been excellent at anything in Nigeria, it has been at creating a succession pipeline of the worst of us ruling over the best of us. On my part, I remain committed to facilitating, however I can, the emergence of the best, brightest, fittest and most competent Nigerians across every gamut of our national life.

 “I welcome discussions on the practicalities of this in our climate, even as I earnestly look forward to the day when the enemies of Nigeria who are currently at large will be rightly confined to the dustbin of history. I rest my case,” he argued.