The popular pastor, Tunde Bakare, Friday held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
After the meeting, Mr Bakare told journalists that he discussed various issues with the president, including the need to restructure Nigeria and the cleric’s future political ambition.
Mr Bakare was an ally of Mr Buhari and was his running mate in the 2011 presidential election that was lost to the then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan.
The vocal cleric has, however, been very critical of Mr Buhari’s government recently.
When asked if he would run for president in 2023, Mr Bakare declined to provide a categorical answer but said he had shared his intentions with President Buhari.
“The Office of the President is only one office, there’re so many other things we can do as people to support whoever is there to make sure that we do not go into retrogression, but begin to make steady progress as a people. I’ve already communicated, clearly, my future plans to Mr President, and it stays between us,” he told the journalists.
Read the full details of the interview Mr Bakare had with State House journalists below.
Question: What informed your visit to the seat of power today?
Bakare: It’s a private visit to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and I’ve dispensed what’s in my heart
Question: Of recent, the National Assembly just okayed that INEC should transmit election results through electronic means. What’s your take on that? Do you see that as a good omen for Nigerian politics?
Bakare: Perhaps one of the best things the present National Assembly has done, especially the Senate, because with that, Nigerians can vote and then results can be transmitted so easily. Not only that, part of the State of the nation address that I did on October 10, I emphasised how Nigeria youth, especially undergraduates, are disenfranchised in our country.
22.3 million students are registered, but during election, campuses are shut, they will not be able to return there to vote, therefore disenfranchised. If we can do not just transmitting results, but to be able to vote electronically, that will be wonderful. It will deepen and enhance our democracy.
Not only that, the Diaspora sends above $25 billion to Nigeria. Nigeria in Diaspora should also be able to vote like they do in every other country in the world. The more the merrier. Yes, democracy is a game of number, but our people should have the final say, so the office of the citizen must be as important, if not more than the office of the governor or the president because they are the people who put them in power. Sovereignty still lies in the hands of the people of Nigeria.
Question: Sir, you have been advocating for restructuring of the country. How do you want Nigeria to be restructured?
Bakare: I’d said it, it’s in the open, the documents are already there, it’s not something I can cover in five minutes. We can do it without shooting any gun. The lecture after lecture after lecture, I have prepared and I’ve made copies available to Mr. President.
We need to do it, to move this nation forward. The founding fathers of this nation; Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, alongside with their entourage, in Lancaster House and everywhere, agreed on what type of government Nigeria should have. We must not change the goalpost in the midst of the game.
We are better off together as a nation than going our different ways. But it must be based on equity, justice, fair play and a rule of law.
Question: Are you going to contest in 2023.
Bakare: Every Nigerian, who is of age and who is not disqualified by any means, is free. I’m a nation builder, if God wants me to do that, and the people of Nigeria will appreciate that, why not? I’m as free as anybody to do anything with my time. I’ve pastored a church for 33 years, now we raise new leaders. I want to focus on nation building.
The Office of the President is only one office, there’re so many other things we can do as people to support whoever is there to make sure that we do not go into retrogression, but begin to make steady progress as a people. I’ve already communicated clearly, my future plans to Mr. President, and it stays between us.
Question: What would you say to the ongoing debate on power rotation?
Bakare: I’d said it on the 3rd of October. It’s our immaturity, politically and otherwise, that makes us say power must either be in the North or be in the South, instead of looking for the best, the fittest, the most competent, and people of character, who love this nation.
Listen to me, if where the president comes from will make the place he has come from to be better, the Northern part of Nigeria should be richest and should be the most progressive and the most developed because out of 61 years, the north has produced either the president or heads of state for 40 to 41 years and yet, see the retrogression in the North.
If it’s from the South, why should a person like President Obasanjo freeze and seize the account of Lagos State in his own tenure? If it’s from South-South or Southeast why couldn’t President Jonathan use all his powers to develop South-South/Southeast?
Not where they come from, it’s what they carry and what they have to offer. May the best of the best of Nigerians rise, whether they’re from the east, from the west, from the north, and from the south.
If there are agreements between politicians among themselves on rotation, a bargain is a bargain. That’s between them. But as far as this country is concerned, what we need at this stage is man who can drive us to the Eldorado.
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