Life in 9ra Republic!
BEING TEXT OF SPEECH BY PASTOR ‘TUNDE BAKARE
AT THE STATE OF THE NATION BROADCAST
ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2018.
VENUE: THE LATTER RAIN ASSEMBLY, END–TIME CHURCH,
4, AKILO ROAD, OFF OBA AKRAN AVENUE,
OGBA, IKEJA, LAGOS, NIGERIA.
THEME: IT IS TIME TO RENEGOTIATE OUR UNION.
SCRIPTURAL TEXTS: JEREMIAH 8:20–22; 9:1–9.
For today’s State of the Nation broadcast, I have chosen as a theme: “It is Time to Renegotiate our Union,” and for the texts of Scripture, please turn your Bible with me to Jeremiah 8:20–22 & 9:1–9.
Happy 2018 once again. This year promises to be an unusual one and a turning point in the history of our nation. In conveying my optimistic salutations, I am not unmindful of the unpleasant circumstances that characterised the turn of the year, including the fact that the first “Merry Christmas” uttered by many Nigerians was to their fellow compatriots in fuel queues at petrol stations. I am also saddened by the terror attacks on places of worship during the festive season. My heartfelt condolences go to the families and communities in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas in Benue State who began the year in grief because of the murderous activities of heartless criminals. I pray that they, and every hurting Nigerian, will experience the comforting hand of God and find the fortitude to hope for a happy and joyous year in 2018.
Tomorrow, the fifteenth of January, is Armed Forces Remembrance Day; a day set aside to remember Nigeria’s fallen heroes, those who fought in the First and Second World Wars, as well as those who laid down their lives during the Nigerian Civil War to keep Nigeria one. I salute these heroes and every member of our Armed Forces still fighting in various missions in the world and, in particular, those in the theatre of the prolonged war against Boko Haram.
I am also mindful that tomorrow will mark fifty-two years since the shots were first fired that eventually destroyed the federal foundations upon which our union was originally constructed. We remember the fathers of our nation who lost their lives in the process, the likes of Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. We celebrate the legacies of these heroes past, together with those of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and we reaffirm that their labours shall never be in vain.
I stand here today as I have done in previous years to constructively examine the state of the nation, to evaluate our progress, to appraise our governmental systems and structures against the backdrop of our national purpose and promise, and to awaken leadership to the solemn call to dispense good governance. Very importantly, I stand today to prick the conscience of a nation that has turned the other eye in deliberate sinful silence of a conspiratorial magnitude while Nigerians are being murdered in various parts of the country by marauding herdsmen. I will proffer structural solutions to these and other challenges facing our nation in the course of this address, but first I will clarify issues arising from my public statements regarding my role in the future of our nation.
Setting the Record Straight
On the first day of the year, I shared twelve prophecies regarding the nature of the year 2018 as I had received from God. For instance, the tenth prophecy indicated that there will be an upsurge in the price of mineral resources as well as oil and gas in 2018. Barely had these statements been made when the price of oil topped $68 for the first time since 2015.
However, the twelfth prophecy has become the theme of myriad speculative interpretations and enquiries. While it has brought excitement to some, it has brought anxiety to others. I have since been inundated with messages from politicians and journalists as well as friends and well-wishers seeking clarification or offering advice based on their understanding of those declarations.
I did say that, while waiting on God, the Spirit of God said to me:
“Politics is not over for you. There is still one thing left for you to do: Run for President…I will work it out Myself and make it happen in due course.”
I went ahead to put this in context as I appealed for prayers. I hereby further clarify the twelfth prophecy with the following ten points:
John 18:37 (NKJV):
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
In like manner, to everyone asking what the twelfth prophecy actually means, my unequivocal response remains, “To this end I was born, and for this purpose I came into the world: To lead Nigeria into her prophetic destiny.” It will happen in due course, in God’s way, and in God’s time;
“…The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
If God leads me to serve my nation by election into political office, I state boldly that I will accept it with all my heart. In the year 2011, when the opportunity came to be running mate to then General Muhammadu Buhari, God said to me, “You are walking on a path that I have mapped out for you.” In His wisdom, God knew that phase of His plan was not going to lead to election victory, but it was a crucial phase of His plan, and I dare say that the dress rehearsal was worth it. As God unfolds the next phase, my response to Him is simply, “Here I am. Send me.”;
“It is, therefore, with a brave heart, with confident hope, and with faith in my unalterable destiny, that I go from this twilight into the darkness, unshaken in my trust in the Providence of God that a glorious dawn will come on the morrow…I…will not die in prison…I am confident that the ideals of social justice and individual liberty which I hold dear will continue to be projected beyond the prison walls and bars until they are realized in our lifetime.”
History later justified these bold claims. Shortly after his release from prison, he became the Federal Commissioner for Finance and Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council in the Gowon administration (today’s equivalent of Vice President and Minister of Finance rolled into one). In this capacity, Chief Awolowo helped Nigeria prosecute the Civil War without borrowing a dime, to the extent that General Yakubu Gowon, in a tribute to Chief Awolowo, acknowledged that the late sage helped save Nigeria from breaking up. My question to the cynics is therefore: How did Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo know that he would not die in prison but would be released to serve Nigeria? If they cannot answer this question, then neither will I tell them by what authority I make these audacious declarations;
28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Is there not a cause?”
Fellow Nigerians, given the state of our nation, is there not a cause? Therefore, rather than waste time on cynical critics, we draw strength from the words our ears have heard:
The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying,
“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand…”
The State of the Nation
Some measure of progress has been made within the first thirty-one months of this administration. However, as was the case with previous administrations, the current government appears to be merely patching the cracks on the wall. This administration anchored its policy outlook on three main thrusts, including security, job creation through diversification, and anti-corruption, yet all around us are signs of retrogression.
As at June 2015, the unemployment rate was 8.2% of a labour force of 74 million, meaning that about 6 million Nigerians were unemployed. By September 2017, despite such efforts as N-Power and a range of policies aimed at improving enterprise development and facilitating job creation, the unemployment rate had risen to 18.8% of a labour force of 85.1 million, indicating that between 2015 and 2017, the number of unemployed Nigerians rose from about 6 million to almost 16 million.
On diversification, despite ongoing efforts, reports indicate that oil continues to significantly dominate Nigeria’s exports revenue, leading to the shortfall in foreign currency in the first half of this administration. In essence, we have been unable to export much beyond crude, as oil still accounts for over 90% of total exports revenue.
The ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption war is seen in the loss of crucial corruption cases. For instance, in April 2017, the federal government lost four high profile corruption cases in ninety-six hours. These losses are in addition to bizarre developments such as the failure of the government to confirm a substantive Chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), despite the fact that the same political party controls both the executive and the legislature, not to mention the public showdown between EFCC and Department of State Services (DSS) officials, or the opposition of the Director-General of the DSS to the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC.
Furthermore, nothing indicts the current government greater than its failure in one key performance area that ought to be its strength: security. Despite recent setbacks, we acknowledge the gains in the war against Boko Haram, but highly disturbing is the mayhem being continually unleashed by herdsmen on communities in different states across the country, including Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Adamawa, Kaduna, Enugu, Edo and Ogun States, leaving trails of weeping and wailing. The recent killings in Benue State are akin to the last straw that is set to break the camel’s back.
Herdsmen Attacks and the Deliberate Sinful Silence (DSS) of the Nigerian State
Not only has the government failed to stop these killings across the country, it has done so against the backdrop of conspiratorial silence, choosing rather to label such attacks “an issue of communal misunderstanding”, as the Inspector General of Police recently did in respect of the Benue attacks; it has treated the menace with kid gloves even after the Global Terrorism Index 2015 described “militant” herdsmen as “the fourth most deadly group of 2014”. Worse still, some of these killings have reportedly been carried out in collusion with the military.
Recently, the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, Umar Bindir, justified the bearing of arms by the herdsmen but failed to tell where the herdsmen get their guns from and with which government agency these guns are registered. Who authorised them to bear arms? Who gave them immunity against section 3 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act 1990, which prescribes punishment for illegal possession of arms? Who monitors the use of these guns? Why have the relevant government agencies failed to act? In particular, why has the name Department of State Services (DSS) become synonymous with the phrase “Deliberate Sinful Silence” (DSS)? Or is it now the Department of Sinful Silence?
As expected, due to the incapacity of the states, not even the anti-grazing laws of states like Benue have succeeded in dealing with these issues. These one-sided and incomprehensive legislations by state governments that lack the constitutional powers to provide security for their people have yielded little or no results. Therefore, the federal government has become complicit for the following reasons:
Your Excellency Mr. President…I am pained that you ignored my advice in my private memorandum to you dated 30th July 2016. I had warned you of the possibility of a horrendous genocide in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, and Southern Adamawa States. I asked you to be proactive and stop the genocide that has been ongoing but which would burst out in the open and shock the world within 18 months. Your office replied my letter…thanking me “immensely” and giving me the assurances that the advice would be heeded…I regret to now inform you that it is seventeen months since my warning and prediction and your government did nothing to pre-empt or prevent the genocide.
In his New Year address, Mr. President further alienated his government from the voice of reason in relation to the call to restructure Nigeria. In his words:
“…I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”…When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.”
I totally agree with Mr. President that we need process reforms; otherwise, we would not be appointing dead men to head parastatals, but can process reforms replace foundational structural reforms? Never. Be that as it may, let no one confuse the genuine call to restructure the nation with the gimmicks of political opportunists who ride on the restructuring wave for their perceived advantage. Many of them talk the talk but neither walked the talk in the past nor will do so in the future.
Therefore, I say to those who have the power to take the decisions and actions necessary to end these atrocities, especially by restructuring the nation, but have failed to do so for political gains, that they are attempting to establish a city by iniquity and there are dire consequences. I am reminded of the word of the Lord in the Book of Habakkuk:
“…For the stone will cry out from the wall,
And the beam from the timbers will answer it.
Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, Who establishes a city by iniquity!…”
The current edifice of state has become a deathtrap. All around are cracks on the wall that originate from the structural foundations. Those cracks are dripping with blood and the stones in the wall are crying out. The stones are crying out from Benue State and every part of the country where herdsmen have slaughtered the innocent in unspeakably barbaric attacks while the government failed to act until there were yet more bodies in morgues. The stones are crying out in every state in the federation where workers’ salaries are unpaid and poverty prevails because states are nothing but institutional and constitutional vegetables on life support from Abuja. The stones are crying out because young men and women are leaving the shores of a country so rich yet so poor and are enslaved, prostituted and murdered in other lands. By maintaining the status quo, Nigeria has once again become a land filled with crimes of blood.
Therefore, since state legislation has proved inadequate and the federal government has failed to act, the cries of Nigerians have gone up to God as an appeal to a higher governmental order. The judgment that is written in Ezekiel 7:23–27 (NKJV) is about to be executed:
23”‘Make a chain,
For the land is filled with crimes of blood,
And the city is full of violence.
24Therefore I will bring the worst of the Gentiles,
And they will possess their houses;
I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease,
And their holy places shall be defiled.
They will seek peace, but there shall be none.
26Disaster will come upon disaster,
And rumor will be upon rumor.
Then they will seek a vision from a prophet;
But the law will perish from the priest,
And counsel from the elders.
27‘The king will mourn,
The prince will be clothed with desolation,
And the hands of the common people will tremble.
I will do to them according to their way,
And according to what they deserve I will judge them;
Then they shall know that I am the Lord!’”
The Nigerian state has a choice to make on the way forward to lasting peace and prosperity: It is either the path of divine judgment reminiscent of a Jehu revolution or a choice to renegotiate our union through a pragmatic approach to restructuring the nation. I will devote the last part of this address to reiterating the latter option, hingeing it on an interesting statement made by Mr. President in his New Year address.
Of Impatience and the Expectations of Nigerians
First, I will read excerpts from the 2018 New Year address by Chinese President Xi Jinping [Shee Jeen-Peeng] that show the heart of a leader mindful of his people:
“Our GDP rose to the level of 80 trillion yuan (12.3 trillion US dollars). Over 13 million urban and rural jobs were created…1.35 billion people are covered by basic medical insurance. More than 10 million rural residents were lifted out of poverty…
…Our country’s great development has been achieved by the people, and its fruits should be shared by the people…
…officials at all levels must constantly hold in their hearts the interests and concerns of the people, and regard the benefit of the people as their highest career accomplishment. They must think for the people, respond to their needs, and work for the greater happiness of the people.”
By contrast, in his New Year address to Nigerians, President Buhari said:
“We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities…We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.”
Admittedly, this administration inherited a backlog of woes, including economic recession, an unfavourable external environment characterised by low crude oil prices, and a treasury emptied through corruption by previous administrations. Also, one cannot but agree with President Buhari on the long-term nature of the desired change. After all, China began its journey to economic transformation in 1978.
However, the fact remains that, over the years, Nigerians have been known to be resilient to a fault and to have low expectations from their governments, but if Nigerians are now getting impatient, it could be because they are beginning to realise that fast-paced growth is possible when we get the fundamentals right. In those fundamentals lie the solution to herdsmen attacks and our myriad economic and socio-political problems. It is a call to return to the foundations of our geopolitical structure; it is a call to renegotiate our union.
Facilitating Nigeria’s Economic Miracle: Revisiting the Pragmatic Approach to Restructuring
Nigeria’s past episodes of oil-induced growth have never been sustained, not even when we had a GDP growth of 33.7% in 2004 after oil prices rose in response to the American invasion of Iraq. However, as at 1963, when Nigeria had not yet discovered its oil, we had the opportunity to build a fast-paced but sustainably growing economy. At that time, the Nigerian economy had begun to grow at about the same growth rate by which Japan would later become the second largest economy in the world within two decades. By 1962, official reports indicated “a rapid rate of economic growth” across Nigeria. However, while Japan’s growth continued, ours was truncated by political recklessness and military intervention. This led to the abrogation of the regional federal structure that nurtured that growth.
Fellow Nigerians, this is why I stand on the God-inspired pathway to the New Nigeria which I call the Pragmatic Steps to Restructuring Nigeria. I stand on this because it is a return to the winning formula, albeit improved upon and better suited. With this plan, Nigeria can leapfrog, within ten years, the phases of industrialisation to become a global industrial powerhouse comprised of six geo-economic zones.
With this plan, the North Central can optimise its mechanised agricultural potential and harness the Niger and the Benue not just for irrigation but also for hydroponic farming; it can become a centre of world class cattle ranching that will not just quell the menace of herdsmen attacks but also incubate allied opportunities such as meat, milk and leather processing and a range of fast moving consumer goods industries, powered by renewable energy. The zone can then transit to heavy industries, including steel manufacturing and auto-manufacturing, while also harnessing the rivers as inland waterways and tourist attractions.
Meanwhile, the North West can harness its vast arable land by deploying land-enhancing technologies for mechanised agriculture and cattle ranching, while also becoming Africa’s defence manufacturing hub. With this arrangement, the zone will then be provided sufficient competitive impetus to revive its historical potential as a central hub in Africa’s textile industry.
With this approach, the North East will have the opportunity to redefine its identity from being a hotbed of Boko Haram to becoming a hub for cattle ranching as well as pharmaceutical and construction industries, harnessing its unique concentration of mineral resources such as clay, limestone and gypsum.
With its new-found liberty to develop at its own pace, the South West can revive the vision of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The zone will not just resuscitate its vast industrial and agro-allied manufacturing potential; it can become a global centre for warehousing and distribution with its world-class sea and airports. Its intellectually aware cosmopolitan social class can become the catalysts of an African cultural renaissance that will facilitate the rise of new genres of creative and cultural industries. Meanwhile, within the zone, Lagos State can consolidate its position as the African hub of global finance.
The South South zone, with its vast oil and gas resources, currently sustains the nation’s expenditure. Nigeria owes this region the urgent activation of the pragmatic approach to restructuring. This approach will see the zone progressively obtain autonomy over these resources such that it can house a cluster of refineries and petrochemical industries. In addition, it can recover from its history of environmental degradation to harness its agro-allied industrial potential. It can also incubate a renewable energy cluster and become an African shipping hub.
The South East is home to a large population of vibrant entrepreneurs. In addition to potentially hosting a globally competitive agro-allied and energy industrial hub, it can, once again, break records in commerce and industry, and export to the world, innovation, enterprise, and an energetic human resource ready to convert opportunity anywhere in the world in the interests of our nation and continent.
With this approach, within ten years, from a near unitary structure comprising thirty-six states, these geo-economic zones can then evolve into six strong federating geopolitical zones and a Federal Capital Territory, roughly mirroring the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates.
[PAUSE HERE & SHOW THE VIDEO – THE NIGERIA OF MY DREAMS.]
Fellow Nigerians, another important season is upon us as a nation, as a people, and as custodians and protectors of our collective national heritage. A nation should indeed be more than just a mere geographical expression: it should be the sum total of all its peoples, joined together by shared history, values, culture and aspiration, fused into a national ethic and an ingrained sense of identity. Failure to embrace this wise option, brilliantly articulated with patriotic fervour in 1947 by the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book, Path to Nigerian Freedom, is at the root of the unfortunate challenges we face today as a people. Indeed, there is nothing anyone, however cerebral or highly placed, can do against the truth, but for the truth.
Our founding fathers embraced the challenge of nationhood in their season by securing independence from the so-called colonial masters. Our military has played their role, good and bad, in shaping national direction for a considerable portion of our nationhood. The current political class has done its part by facilitating our return to civil rule.
Now, it is the turn of Nigerians: professionals, artisans, students, soldiers, policemen, para-military, academics, market women, drivers, youth, both the employed and the unemployed, as well as every Nigerian who is not an active beneficiary of the present disorder.
It is time for a DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION. The season for complaints and complacency is over. We must seize this opportune moment to translate our collective national disappointment into a uniquely Nigerian REBIRTH.
The current political class constitute far less than one percent of Nigeria’s voting population. To avoid engagement with the powers that have hijacked our collective patrimony is to surrender our national destiny without a fight. And as Cardinal John Onaiyekan said: “Every citizen must be involved in politics…Only people who are irresponsible will say they are not interested; even if you are not interested in politics, politics will be interested in you”.
Our fight to reclaim and renew Nigeria begins now. Registering and obtaining a valid voter’s card must now be a national priority. If the 2015 elections were critical to our national survival, the 2019 polls are pivotal to our country’s future development. If power truly belongs to the people, it is time for the silent majority to instigate REAL AND GENUINE CHANGE.
As I have declared on previous occasions, what is required to kick-start this process is the creation of a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring. This commission is to be headed by a biblical Joseph-type national figure appointed to provide visionary leadership for the process with the support of six Zonal Commissioners. The visionary leadership will co-ordinate the implementation of masterplans for each of the six geo-economic zones. It will evolve for the nation a strong anti-corruption-based national value system and stir up uncommon patriotic zeal among Nigerians. It will also attract various domestic and foreign investment packages and float a social impact bond to fund development. The requisite human capacity for the economic miracle will be provided not only by skilled Nigerians at home but also by many others based abroad through Diaspora for Development agreements guaranteed by goodwill and fuelled by uncommon patriotism.
To facilitate the process, the National Assembly will provide the requisite constitutional amendments within the ten years in addition to serving as a monitoring and evaluation clearing house. By the tenth year at the latest, the systems, values and structural underlay of the geo-economic transformation will be codified in a new constitutional arrangement whose preamble is the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration adopted by the 2014 National Conference. The new constitution will be adopted by the Nigerian people through a referendum, such that it can genuinely lay claim to the prefix, “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”
As a nation, we have an opportunity to rewrite our history and choose a more prosperous future. We can choose to continue to play the ostrich or we can decide to take up the gauntlet and face our national challenges squarely. Just as Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV):
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…”
Let it be known, however, that the New Nigeria is like a moving train that cannot be stopped, like a stone that will cause the wicked to stumble, and like a rock that will make them fall; and whoever falls on this stone will be broken, but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder, and this nation will fulfill her destiny.
I have said my piece. He who has an ear to hear, let him hear: Nigeria will be saved, Nigeria will be changed, and Nigeria will be great in my lifetime. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare
Serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly (LRA),
Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG).Tags: 2019, elections in Nigeria, Later Rain Assembly, Let's renegotiate our union, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Run for President, State of the nation broadcast
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