Pastor Tunde Bakare at 62: Nation building as a ministry, by Segun Oshinaga
Fiery preacher, Pastor Tunde Bakare, as he is popularly called, is 62 today. Although fiery in his convictions, incorruptibility, and passion for a new Nigeria that works, PTB is a simple man who cares deeply, loves freely, laughs generously, and desires that everyone fulfills their God given purposes. A dutiful shepherd of The Latter Rain Assembly, an outstanding Church he has served as Overseer since April 1, 1989. PTB is also an international business man and one of the most traveled persons in Nigeria.
Not a few people have wondered why he combines his pastoral calling with political activism. To some, these roles are mutually exclusive. In holding this view, the assumption is that pastoral work is a holy calling while politics is a vocation for sinners.
Truth be told, PTB is not a politician in the conventional traditional sense. PTB is a nation builder who is deploying the tool of politics as a means to achieve an end; an end which includes the liberation from hunger, provision of infrastructure, and security of life and property.
The bane of politics in Nigeria is selfishness and greed. Politics is often a racket, not different from gangsterism with money making as sole objective. What we have presently in Nigeria are merchants pretending to be leaders. We have raiders
holding political offices throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria landscape. To the contrary, PTB is not driven by the mundane or compulsive material acquisition at public expense. Rather, PTB is driven by the vision of how better Nigeria can become. And this is what informs his common mantra ‘Nigeria will work in my life time.’
PMB’s patriotism didn’t start with the Save Nigeria Group although SNG became a veritable and potent vehicle for concrete visible action. Since the early 90s, PTB has been a watchman for the Nigerian nation, preaching, prophesying, praying and rallying many towards the Nigerian cause. He is a man uniquely burdened for Nigeria. Hardly can he finish a message without a mention of the rot in the land and proffering solutions. The truth is that PTB is not your ordinary do-gooder, political activist or politician. The uniqueness of his intervention is that he is acutely aware of his sense of destiny in being an active participant in making Nigeria a nation that will be blessed to become the envy of other nations.
Perhaps, I need to share how I came about this conviction. The year was 1991 and the venue was the church office at The Latter Rain Assembly. PTB has always been a gracious host. He offered me lunch that was delivered from ‘Pintos’ on Allen Avenue after which he saw me off to my car. Just as he turned back to return to the office, the Lord opened my eyes and mind to have a glimpse into the future- by the way, this is a gift that the Lord gives me occasionally. In this state, I saw PTB helping to fix a broken down nation. I called him back and told him what I saw. Of course, he was amazed. He turned and walked into his office. I am persuaded that we are entering that season.
One distinguishing feature of leadership is selflessness. Unfortunately, this is oftentimes lacking within the political class. This virtue marks PTB out. When he was nominated to the 2014 national conference, he served the nation at his own expense. He was one of the few who refused the fat cheques that the government offered. Virtually all politicians are driven by ambition of ‘I want to be this or that.’ What drives GBB (Gbolahan Babatunde Bakare) as his precious wife, Mrs. B. (Layide Bakare) fondly calls him, is not ambition; not at all. Individuals driven by ambition are often slaves to their vanities and egos.
An incident in late 2010 comes to mind. My phone rang one early Monday morning. It was my friend and brother, Pastor Obanure, Special Assistant to Pastor Enoch Adeboye. Pastor Adeboye wanted to talk to PTB and his number was not going. He and Pastor Adeboye were at the airport on their way out of the country. I reached out to PTB and Pastor Adeboye asked for a meeting to discuss the political situation in the country. The following Saturday, PTB took four people along with him to the meeting at Pastor Adeboye’s residence at the Redemption Camp – Jimi Agbaje, Yinka Odumakin, Ife Oyedele and myself.
After PTB examined the options before us in 2011, he said General Mohammad Buhari, as he then was, was the best choice if Nigeria was to make progress. He had first enumerated the numerous efforts he and the SNG leadership had made to help
President Goodluck Jonathan succeed but it all came to naught. Pastor Adeboye agreed that Buhari truly was a better choice but expressed reservations about his alleged Islamic leaning. Pastor Adeboye said he would support Buhari if he had a credible Christian deputy. At that point, PTB asked for Pastor Adeboye’s help to convince Oby Ezekwesili to agree to run along with PMB. Pastor Adeboye said he was not sure Oby would be willing to leave her assignment at the World Bank for politics. He then looked at PTB directly in the eyes and said, ‘if you will run with Buhari, we will support you.’ I will never forget the answer PTB gave Pastor Adeboye that morning: ‘I will not put myself in consideration because this is not purpose. I don’t want people to think that is the reason we are agitating for good governance. My time will come but I don’t think it is now.’ He went further to argue that the aim is to assemble the best and brightest from the North and South to fix Nigeria.
Perhaps, the most important virtue PTB brings to the table is that he hears God and that he is not on a frolic of some kind. His strategic intervention in the political process is not borne out of a hobby or in pursuit of some mundane or material possessions. PTB is not looking to make a ‘kill’, or fame. Neither is he a power hungry politician. PTB’s involvement in the Nigerian project is on account of God’s involvement. PTB is a man on assignment. He goes as God says, regardless of the opposition or the wave of public opinion.
Sometime in 2009, he took out time to pray. My phone went off at around 2am. It was PTB on the line. ‘Rev. Oshinaga, sorry to disturb you, I was praying this night and I heard
God tell me, ‘go work with Muhammadu Buhari. He is the link to the future. Keep it to yourself. When events begin to work in that direction, I can call you as my witness.’ I am not sure those are his exact words to me but it was something to that effect. I was speechless. Only those who can see into the future will find this credible. PMB was not considered a critical factor in our politics in 2009. But I have walked with PTB long enough to take him seriously even if what he says presently has no ounce of possibility. There were seemingly more attractive political options, but he heard God and followed God. What exists between PMB and PTB is far more than chemistry; it is destiny.
Anybody around PTB will tell you that his obsession is Nigeria. He lives it, dreams it, drinks it, eats it and talks it. Let me close this piece with PTB’s daily confession about Nigeria:
Nigeria will flourish again – 2x
God will heal our land, restore us again,
Nigeria will flourish again
I am an unapologetic and unrepentant follower of PTB’s political vision and destiny. I do not follow him just because I love him (and God knows I do love him with all of my heart) or because of his uprightness or even his moral force but because he consistently follows God’s purpose and plans for Nigeria. I have said it before and I will say it again, PTB is the only actor in our political space I can follow to battle with my two eyes closed. I completely, unequivocally and intentionally trust that God will perfect all He has put in His servant’s heart for our dear and great nation. Hear PTB shout this daily – Nigeria shall be SAVED. Nigeria shall be CHANGED. Nigeria shall be GREAT.
May his prophecy for our nation come true in our lifetime and may we all be partakers of Nigeria’s great and illustrious future.