Tunde Bakare, presiding pastor of Latter Rain Assembly, is a known social and religious crusader. His nomination as the vice presidential candidate to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of Congress for Progresses Change (CPC) has been generating interests and reactions in different quarters. In this interview with Acting News Editor Saturday, Ajibola Abayomi, he speaks on the forthcoming general elections.
Many are surprised at your sudden incursion into politics as a man of God, why?
It is not just a question of going into politics now. Everybody is in politics. I have been in politics for long. Everybody who is paying his or tax and demanding for good governance is in politics.
So you are in politics to help Buhari achieve his presidential aspiration?
No, I said I am ready to serve my country since he said "come and be my running mate." That is what I mean by that phrase. To serve Nigeria, is more important and for you to do that in the political dispensation in Nigeria, you need a political party as a platform.
In all honesty, would you say you are prepared for the office of vice president?
Many people would ask that question. The reason for it is that they would say there are those who have been involved in partisan politics for long before and would want to know that maybe I am caught out for this. Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blaire, said his first night after his election into office was his first day in politics although he has functioned in different capacities as a party member and at different levels. Although, I have never been a member of a political party, but I have functioned in several capacities as far as good governance is concerned at different levels in this country, taking the risk of challenging those with dictatorial tendency. I can count on my fingers how many times I have been arrested. I don't have to join a party to express what I feel about good governance. If you are talking about how prepared I am now for this assignment.
I feel inside of me that what has happened now is a call of destiny because from childhood those who knew me know that something like this was already there all along, it is just finding expression.
How would you convince those who believe that you were into Save Nigeria Group (SNG) to set the stage for participation in partisan politics?
Those who think so are entitled to their opinion but I think that is shallow because I don't need to start SNG to go into politics. SNG was a child of necessity.
I never met with any political party or group and said look, I want to come into politics and how do I come into it?
We engaged every one of them after we prepared our charter and contact with Nigerians and the irreducible minimum we expected Nigerians to demand from those who preside over the affairs of the country.
Some have alleged that some unseen hands in government including President Goodluck Jonathan founded the SNG, if you say that was not correct, how did you raise money to finance the activities of the group?
First, if Jonathan was among those financing the group, why did I reject his $50, 000 and it became an issue? It doesn't make sense. Intelligent people should constructively look into matters. If they said Jonathan or some other unseen hands were financing SNG, I challenge you to name the persons and let him say maybe I have collected a penny from him or her before, since the event started.
Concerning where the fund for SNG came from?
Maybe those alleging think we were taking from the garbage camp before. Tell those who care to listen that there was water inside coconut before rain fell.
So how do you intend to get there with Buhari?
The same way that people get into power, we are going to go into the nooks and crannies of the country. We are going to tell the people that it is their own interest to cast their vote for two honest men in order to stem the tide of corruption in Nigeria and set people agenda - that would be good governance - for the people including the children in the womb by God's grace by 2011 when we win the election. If anybody thinks they could rig election like they did in the past, I would like to tell them that yesterday ended last night. This time around, they would have a combination of crises we have in Egypt, Yemen and Sudan because the people of this country would rise to say enough is enough. If they want crises to fill the bow in their hand they better let us have a free, fair and credible election.
As a man of God, with the special anointing in you, how do you feel, particularly when some are not comfortable with your decision to subsidise that glory to serve under somebody as VP?
People who think and talk that way are Biblically ignorant. They think the anointing of God is self-esteem. Eli had the anointing of God, he served as king in Israel. Joseph had the anointing of God and he served as deputy to Pharaoh in Egypt. Daniel had the anointing of God and the stories and his prophecies are written in the Bible. The largest chunk of Genesis in the Bible was focused on the life of Joseph.
So what do you have to offer Nigerians alongside Buhari on the platform of CPC as alternative to PDP?
If you ask me what do I have to offer on the platform of CPC? That is asking me as to what I have to offer against the party's position. Manifesto of the party is about to be unveiled; lots of things, though have been put to it so that every national facet would be touched as against what politicians just open their mouths and say without making proof. So why don't you just wait. Don't be in a hurry.
Chosen as a VP candidate of the party one would assume that you have been relating with the party for sometime, how long have you been in CPC?
My interaction with them dated back to July/August 2010.
So you have been in to CPC since 2010?
Check their records they would tell you. I mean my interaction with them as a group. For membership, as you speak with me I don't have card with me. It has the exact date.
In what way do you think your candidature would be a blessing CPC?
In so many ways, you wait and see. Buhari wouldn't have woken up one day and thought about me. He is a very thoughtful person and a deep thinker. If I have nothing to offer it does not suffer fools gladly.
In case your party loses this election, I mean you and Buhari, what happens next?
We are so positive. We are not thinking about losing. We would win this election.
So you are sure of total victory?
I am so sure of victory. The people are so fed up with PDP government that is so self-centered and selfish. This is the way it happened in America. Nobody gave Obama chance yet it did happen including the heavy Clinton machinery and against McCain, a retired army and senator with over 15 years. The Obama phenomenon is about to sweep through Nigeria and you would be there to see it.
What do you have to say to those who believe you don't have the political aura to galvanise votes for CPC to win the election?
The same anointing that brought thousands of people to the street of Abuja when Vincent Ogbulafor said it was a road show. The same grace that was upon our life when we stem the tide of evil when Nigeria was going into precipice and upheld constitutionalism for the first time in the country when both the executive and the senate have no control over the constitution is appealing in my life. This is making people to look at us and say let us give these people a chance because they have track record of honesty. One vote for CPC is a vote for two honest men against those who have participated in looting the treasury of our country.
As a religious leader leading thousands in a congregation, are you not wary of politics because the game can make or mar anybody's personality?
Controversy has trailed me all along because each time you speak the truth, it raises a dust. Even if the atmosphere is murky you can only be charged with a crime that you commit.
Are you not bothered about what other men of God would say about you that you are being consumed by worldly things to join politics? Are you saying there is no life in christendom?
It is because the Church has lost focus. Jesus himself said in the Bible that you are the salt and light of the earth. He said occupy it till I come. Before the Pilate he said, my kingdom is not of this world. Go to the book of revelation, because he did come here to be king and get involved in the day to day running of the world's government, he said, the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his strive, and he shall reign forever. People have forgotten that the bible says that God rules in the affairs of men and he gives it to whosoever he will in book of Daniel.
And in Romans, he said authorities that exist are ordained of God. Did you know the meaning of the title of Jesus in the book of Psam?
He is a governor among the nations. Let us read the Bible and not interpret in a way that discourages honest men to get involved in politics. What the Bible says is that when the righteous are in power, the people rejoice.
In fairness to President Goodluck Jonathan, has he not performed well in the last one year?
If he did, Nigeria wouldn't be in the mess we are today. He has been tested in the last one year, what can you point? Except you want Nigeria to winder into abyss.
You have been privileged to meet him, did you tell him all these?
I did not only tell him alone, I also put it in writing to him that I am not going to support him because his tenure has not improved the lives of Nigerians.
But the CPC is not popular in the South West where you come from, how do you intend to change the tide?
If you remember, Zacheus in the Bible could not increase his height to see Jesus among the crowd and he climbed a tree. When he did, Jesus Christ saw him, and said to him, Zacheus come down; salvation has entered your house today. If we could not increase our height like the Zacheus did, we would climb every legitimate tree to get to our people and to sell our products. It is in the interest of our people to vote for us. We would do strategic- direct- unilateral alliance with the people. Let me take you back in history. Late Nnamdi Azikwe in the South West during the Western Region, thought the Action Group (AG) formed few months to the election would not win. Azikwe's party was saying the AG was nowhere to be found that they were not going to win the election, but AG not only win the elections hands down, more people from the opposing camp joined them. People who were walking left and right to frustrate the alliance of CPC with other parties forgot that there could be unilateral alliance with the people by talking the good manifesto to where they are. Most of these gladiators don't even have the time to go to the campaign ground or where the people are.
What if you are asked to drop your ambition for the alliance with party to win?
It would be choice of the party to decide that.