General Overseer and Senior Pastor of Latter RainAssembly Tunde Bakare speaks on the 2019 presidential election, saying it would be a fierce battle. He also urged Nigerians to pray that God should rule in the affairs of men and give it to whosoever is qualified enough.
You have been referred to in certain quarters of the media as a radical preacher. How do you react to this?
I don’t know, they said so, they should be asked. Everybody has mouth and they say what they like, some say radical, some say basketmouth, others call me all manner of names. I know who I am in Christ, it doesn’t bother me. I am sent forward to declare a message and I give it as the Lord gives me grace with all the mannerisms God has given me. Everybody looks different, that’s their opinion.
The blood of the innocents appears to be crying in Nigeria. Does it mean Nigerians are not praying enough?
Well, if it has to do with just praying, you can begin to evaluate whether we are praying enough or not. I would like to say to you that people came to Jesus even while he was here, and when anyone prayed, Jesus also prayed. They said to him, Pilate has mixed the blood of Galileans with his sacrifice, and you will think Jesus will throw his hands up and call fire upon them, but he said, ‘except you repent, you will likewise perish.’ Then he said ‘the tower house that fell and killed people, were they just sinners or wicked people, except you repent, you will likewise perish.’ Why do I refer to that scripture? We live in a fallen world, the survival of the fittest like in the animal jungle, and those who are killing others have their own reason however perverse for what they are doing. But that they will get away with it forever? No they won’t because according to the prophet Ezekiel, there is judgment upon a land that is filled with the crime of blood.
The incessant killings are so rampant and the government is almost pushed to the end of the world. Thank God there has been some liberation, in the past, more than 17 local governments were under
the grip of Boko Haram, but today, all those strongholds have been demolished. Whether there are forces behind it or not, I know it is not God’s will for the innocent to suffer. I don’t know who is innocent or who is wicked. All I know is when blood is shed, it is because people are doing the killing for a purpose and there will be consequences after.
How far should Christians go in their relationship with Muslims?
Those are very pedestrian issues, I don’t get involved in religious controversies, I will answer your questions because it’s so pedestrian. Paul said, ‘don’t you know what ungodly sacrifice means?’ At the same time, he said ‘whatever he says before you, pray over it and receive.’ So it depends on your faith, you must not eat the meat that will cause your brother to stumble. But if they supply you meat and you pray over it and receive it by faith, it means nothing to me. I have friends who are Muslims, they greet me on Eid-el Kabir day, and I greet them on Christmas. I send them gifts and they send me gifts too. I don’t see why that is a major issue. They believe the ultimate sacrifice has already been performed. Christ Jesus has died on the cross ofCalvary for the sin of mankind, and nobody needs to wake up every morning to start counting his sin. Religion in its original meaning is returning to bondage, it’s a Greek word – religion. My relationship with Christ is the born of faith and not religion.
President Muhammadu Buhari said Church leaders should not be involved in partisan politics. How do you react to that?
I don’t react, in the book that I studied; I only find acts ofapostles. I don’t react to things that others say, I just say my own. The way that you know a stick is crooked is when you place a straight stick by its side. Mr. President must have reasons for saying what he said. I wasn’t in the country when it was said, so I take it that you are quoting it accurately. I think he said, church leaders who get involved in partisan politics will lose the esteem of their people. But the question to ask is is the Vice President not a pastor? Did I stop being a pastor when I was his running mate? I am sure he is addressing this to those who seem to create unnecessary storm in the teacup, because I still do the things I do, I remain a Christian, I remain a pastor. I’m sure he is trying to hit at those who are causing unnecessary trouble. If Christians and pastors are not involved in politics, are you robbing them of their citizen’s right of association, human right of freedom of speech? Let us situate the statement within the context and not take it out of that.
Do you see Ekiti and Osun election as good templates ahead of 2019?
It is clear that there was vote buying in Ekiti State by all parties or by some parties, because it was clearly reported. Those who reported had evidence of who collected money and from who because of the way the whole thing was stage managed. I spoke about that on October 7; I don’t want to go back there. Truth be told, our democracy is still evolving, and INEC must be calm and independent in such a way that those European Observers who said there were threats will sense there were all kinds of opposition to one party candidate against the other. They saw and observed it clearly. We had to go beyond that and begin to conduct free, fair and credible elections. And it is possible if we don’t put the cart before the horse.
Not-too-young-to-run, was it a cheering news when one discovers these young men do not have any money to even prosecute the election?
We responded to that appropriately at the Latter RainAssembly, our legacy youth fellowship gathered old veterans like Baba Adebanjo and the persons who actually pioneered the not- too-young–to- run, we brought the old and young together in a public debate, we called it, not-too-young-to -win, and not-too-old-to run. How old was President Buhari when he first became the military head of state? How old was General Murtala Mohammed, how old were those military people? They were young, they were not teenagers, but they were young. Now look, they are still there. Truth be told, what tutelage have these young ones received? Power is not a cup of tea; you just don’t get there and run for president of your nation like that. You have to be part of a system, develop and learn on the job. God does not use an untested vessel; I don’t know why anybody should trust an untested vessel. In fact God pronounced a woe, ‘woe unto you oh land, when your king is a child, but blessed are you all nations that your kings are source of nobles.’
Those people you saw that emerged like Obama, including young ladies that are leading now, see how long they have been in the kitchen; if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. You don’t just jump from one place and get there; why don’t you start from your local government and leave your mark, then God will create an opportunity for you. David was 30 when he became the king of Israel; Joseph was 30 when he became prime Minster of Egypt, even Jesus himself and John the Baptist were baptised at the age of 30. There are some things that come up with maturity. No man can climb with one hand, we need both sides. We need the old to mentor the young, and we need the young to be submissive and learn and when the right opportunity presents itself, opportunity will meet preparations and it will be breakthrough for them.
How do you see the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate?
Atiku winning the ticket of his party and becoming a flagbearer was for me, a cheering news, in the sense that you now have to look at both candidates and say which one will you vote for. Because it’s
a secret ballot, my secret remains in my heart but truth be told, I’ve been quoted copiously everywhere that I said that this is now the battle of the eagles. Sometimes when someone with prophetic grace speaks, others place different interpretation on what they said.
I was looking at what Jesus said In Luke and Matthew, the presentation were different. It said wherever you find thecarcass, there you find the eagle. Then in Luke, he said wherever you find the body, there you find the eagle. So it’s telling you that different birds belong to the eagle family. For example, the cat belongs to the family of a lion, but the lion is different from the cat.
Many don’t know that vultures also are part of the family of eagle. It is a contest between the eagle and the vulture and you can place your interpretation on who is the eagle and who is the vulture. Time will tell. Are we going back to perversity, sustained corruption or are we tired of oppression and bloodletting and we are saying God give us somebody. I think the right prayer to pray now is ‘Lord you rule in the affairs of men, you give it to whosoever you will, deliver us from vultures and deliver us from eagles that are not acting as eagles also.’
Talking from standpoint of the scripture, the battle is going to be fierce; it’s not going to be a run over cup of tea as it was, but I still think at the end of the day God’s will will be done in our country.