2023: Kingmakers, remember God ‘promised’ three pastors they will be Buhari’s successor
“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words” Ecclesiastes 5: 2 & 3
Before President Buhari’s bombshell about wanting to choose his own successor, long before high wire horse-trading finally succeeded in containing the fearsome torrents of the Nyesom Wike tsunami, culminating in Atiku Abubakar’s tortuous climb to becoming PDP’s presidential nominee for 2023, a bewildering orgy of twists and turns had characterized the electoral process across the two mainstream parties.
Marked by brazen chicanery and high state comedy, this unending festival of absurdities has provided a somewhat ameliorative backdrop, taking away shock and incredulity as very senior principals of the Nigerian church have made high stakes claims to the fray.
Bringing their own ecclesiastical flair to a confounding national political spectacle, at least three statesmen of the pentecostal Corpus Christi have added their considerable pastoral heft to exacerbating the perplexities of the nation’s dysfunctional polity in recent years.
By the sheer ubiquity of their footprint in the slippery terrains of 2023 politics, the names of Pastor Tunde Bakare and Pastor Yemi Osinbajo are easily top of mind wherever this matter of high office aspirants stridently proclaiming their divine commission is discussed. But in case you are lulled by his curious quietness this presidential election cycle, the third person of the trinity is none other than his holiness, The Most Reverend Chris Okotie.
Now, for those who are blessed with privileged access to the esoteric dynamics of the heavenly, it is easy to see that when it comes to who is who among high profile clerical patrons of Nigeria’s presidential sweepstakes, who regularly hear from the lord concerning what number combinations to deal, Daddy Okotie readily makes this elite cut of the lord’s kitchen cabinet for 2023. That’s not just simply because Jesus (non-other, alas!) firmly promised Okotie the keys to Aso Rock in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 & 2019 although the pagan principals of the political class infamously and obstinately thwarted the lord’s holy intentions for Brother Okotie and his beloved Nigeria during those elections. What eminently numbers Reverend Okotie among the celestially illuminated triumvirate for 2023 is that he had said for the umpteenth time that God (you heard that right) God, who promised him Nigeria’s executive presidency during those five previous election seasons in which His Eminence so woefully failed to deliver even his own local government, has not told him No Mas, No Mas!
So, while this eminent theological scholar and preacher extraordinaire has been uncharacteristically silent about his nocturnal spiritual engagements with his heavenly father this season, do not think that it is because, having had his anointed fingers serially burnt every election cycle since 2003, he has now grown weary, his faith fatally wounded. If agnostic naysayers must know, there is no way, with Nigeria now being in even more dire straits than the 5 previous presidential election cycles, that the heavenly father and his earthly son would not have returned to that discomfiting subject, with Jesus (no less an eminent celestial personality, for sure) reiterating to this especially beloved vessel, and with strident urgency too, that this is especially that prophetic moment.
It remains to be seen whether The Reverend Okotie will find his spiritual mojo again and step forward to claim his destined political glory this time or whether he would yet “fall into the hands” of the heavenly host, in this particularly needy election cycle. Refusing to work the vision beyond serially arranging elegant photo ops in which sartorial panache is more on display than evidenced strategic literacy would not take the most anointed latter-day Gideon to Aso Rock. Timidly hiding behind his finely combed moustache and not exerting himself in the trenches of political agitation will not bring the sanctified presidential mandate which was handed to him from the holy of holies to roaring fulfilment in 2023. In the dark, foul, demon besieged netherworld that constitutes Nigeria’s realpolitik, torrid oracular proclamations don’t a president make. Selah.
Now if you think that Pastor Okotie’s historic relevance is in merely providing comic relief of a pentecostal hue to a much-tortured polity, not so the fiery Tunde Bakare.
With his fiercely disruptive new take on liturgy, Pastor Bakare daringly rides the high places between doctrinal radicalism and political irreverence. With Bakare, do not expect to find any semblance of ecumenical amity on what constitutes acceptable content of worship time in a Sunday church service. Even the most ardent supporter of liberation theology among Nigeria’s pastors would choke when it comes to how brazenly this fearless social critic evangelical has turned the sacred pulpit at his Global Citadel Church from the classical fixation with matters of the heaven-ward journey into a veritable soap box where deafening political vitriol is ceaselessly fired into a carefully orchestrated ecosystem of digital dissemination.
Balancing a precarious act as a friend of the president, elder statesman, respected APC chieftain and deviant champion of revolutionary mass mobilization, all at once, Pastor Bakare has had his work cut out for him. In a blatantly corrupt and achingly cynical political marketplace, Bakare’s gallant struggles to maintain above the rut optics are certain to be dogged by the derisive consternation of the more pragmatic political traders who populate that universe. Add to that dynamic, Pastor Bakare’s own ill-concealed salivation over seductions of the political establishment. Curiously, for this highly cerebral lawyer/pastor, he seems somewhat persuaded that wily shenanigans by shadowy kingmakers who are said to hold court in the dark recesses of the nation’s power centres somehow hold out for him – a historically conscious Pentecostal pastor – the dubious promise of sudden political trajectory.
Perhaps if this stormy petrel priest will indulge less in the lure of his own expensively installed klieg lights and think all of this through, a bit more soberly, it might become clear to him that his feisty crusade for a new, disruptive leadership paradigm is the least likely to find the much-coveted momentum, deep in the reactionary bowels of the political mainstream. Eternal dabbling with the nation’s sordid political orthodoxy interspersed with whimsical outbursts that lurch indecipherably between ideological counter-culture and self-seeking cancel culture can only create for Tunde Bakare a totally avoidable tactical albatross, perpetually consigning his seething energy into nothing more than the futile promise of historical impact.
Awkward and patently ludicrous affectations of statesmanly relevance while surrounded by agbada or babanriga clad coyotes who can hardly conceal their disdain for Bakare’s suffocating rectitude may seem to yield incremental political capital for this lonely crusader, but the equities so derived are perishable in the extreme and do not shift the dial one nano inch.
Now, before ungodly enemies begin to guffaw their delight at Bakare’s clumsiness and palpable frustration, the tragedy of all of this is that in Pastor Bakare, it is not so difficult to discern an authentic reservoir of deep revolutionary fervour. His stout resolve through the uncertainties of the SAVE NIGERIA GROUP days would seem to betray real fight and feist, somewhere beneath the melodramatic makings of his pentecostal flavoured populist messaging. Further, there is a hopeful whiff of strategic literacy to be gleaned from Bakare’s extempore media moments, off the pulpit. By this, one refers to Bakare’s increasingly evidenced immersion in, and substantive comprehension of the intricate interplay of our complex national dynamics and some demonstrable sense of the even more complex policy imperatives that will confront a post-2023 presidency.
The caveat is that the nagging and endemic socio-economic vexations bedevilling Nigeria, and to which Bakare’s avowed anger speaks, would require his deep-rooted convictions and deeper going strategic clarity, for him to find actionable navigation. To that, he will have to add the kind of stoic fortitude that is demanded when purpose-driven political pathfinders plumb the trenches for desperately needed mass conscientization. That disciplined and utterly unglamorous work would seem to be in sharp contrast to ill-advised and infantile Sunday service exultations over a claimed surfeit of lurid prophetic revelations in which he giddily regales his captive audience about how God repeatedly tells him he is Nigeria’s 16th president.
Were soulish passions to have been subdued by this liberally equipped man of God who, with decades of apostolic leadership behind him, can be presumed to have been exhaustively honed for the sobriety of conduct in place of altogether sterile emotional effusiveness; were the Holy Spirit Himself to have been allowed to be the true guide to a newly teachable old cleric; were the illuminating power of scripture to have been diligently employed to discern intoxicating visions, precious Pastor Bakare might have understood that the true passion of Jesus Christ does not lie in making someone, anyone, president by some celestial fiat. None of these sore points precludes the sovereignty of an almighty, all-powerful God, who once used the foolish bravado of a few leprous outcasts to change the fortune of a nation overnight, but wisdom, says that holy text, is profitable to direct. Selah.
This brings us to the matter of curious manoeuvres by the third clerical subject of this treatise – a certain Pastor Oluyemi Osinbajo.
Widely reported personal credentials and seven years of close synergy with his principal, which availed a generous and very public test run of Osinbajo’s leadership potential, would seem to have created actionable political equity for this obviously highly cerebral man. The strategic tension, defiantly underplayed by the erudite professor’s tenacious spin machine, lies at the convoluted intersection of a number of tensely complicated variables: (1) How do you mine the kind of frenzied electoral energy such as swept Muhammadu Buhari into power in 2015 around a man who has been a principal accountable officer in the ensuing regime that Nigerians now disavow in shrill, anguished voices across all critical publics as the most dismal in all its 60 years plus history?
For while the Buhari presidency may indeed have accomplished some foundational gains, at the macro economic architectural level especially, and as regarding its spirited attempt at redressing the nation’s infrastructure deficit, the verdict at the retail level is that on the streets, across faiths, across tribes, in-country and in the city, across zones and across demographies, Nigerians are unsparingly unanimous that the Buhari years have brought inordinate levels of pain across salient indices. Signalling the clumsiness and the tension that lays ahead of an Osinbajo campaign against a gloating Atiku, even the eloquently gaffe proof Vice President hardly knew how to broach a difficult subject on the very day he announced his candidacy.
Literally stepping on the dead bodies of a reported hundred new victims of the horrendous killings that have now become Nigeria’s cruel fate, Osinbajo, strangely dispossessed of critically needed empathetic comportment on this monumentally pivotal outing, spoke glibly about how he intends to build on the security architecture successes of his boss’s ill-fated government. Hear ye!
(2) If indeed, Aso Rock is the big sponsor of the Osinbajo candidacy, how exactly did they divine the winning electoral map around a leading pentecostal pastor in a polity which has Northern Nigeria’s numerical invincibility as a core strategic determinant? And when that whole sprawling and monolithic geography is preponderantly Muslim in a polity in which primordial factors like tribe, tongue and religion out-ways other critical parameters; and APC’s formidable opponent is a core Northerner and Muslim, precisely what is that magical pitch that will unleash millions of North East, North West and North Central voters on the polling booths in frenzied adulation of a certain Pastor Osinbajo? If chop I chop convention delegates can be induced with gubernatorial dominion to vote in a certain way, how in the world does that translate to the critical mass APC would need to contain a barrelling Atiku Abubakar monster army?
(3) Importantly, where does Pastor Osinbajo find the biblical foundation to stab a lifelong benefactor – a certain Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the back for a mere mess of rancid Aso Rock potage?
Finely robed political mercenaries are by default insanely self-absorbed brute beasts, no matter how cherubic faced they may be. Possessed of murderous lust, these ride roughshod over sublime sensibilities of character, ethics, integrity, fairness, and loyalty. Stout hearted political careerists come to the table with poisoned daggers concealed in stiffly starched assortments of haute couture, hiding lust inflamed malevolence behind plastic smiles.
Cursed with successive generations of such duplicitous leaders, our nation is today a gruesomely disembowelled caricature of its true promise. By the time President Buhari came to the saddle in 2015, little did he realize, little did millions of newly converted Buharists like me realize that a 60 year long savaging of this nation by hell crazed bloodhounds had reached such a deadly inflexion point and that a thousand Muhammadu Buharis can not now arrest the spiralling decomposition except a deep paradigm shift was at the core of a new governance architecture. By the time a dazed new president who apparently pursued power with only his obsessive dream of being an incorruptible and compassionate leader was rudely shocked out of his benevolent reverie, he began to grasp that deep strategic comprehension of our hydra-headed complexities was called for, a laborious climb into strategic literacy could no longer arrest the wholesale damage that the heinous killing of Nigeria had done in the bloodied hands of lust-driven false deliverers for very many decades.
Lust brought us here.
Still, it’s a whole different ball game, when a revered pastor and deeply tutored scion of The Enoch Adeboye school of holiness and righteousness turns out to be this electoral season’s poster child of political double-cross and classical treachery.
The reverse role modelling implication of such duplicity on our rapidly unravelling national psyche is infinitely deeper and graver than the protagonist’s unyielding deadpan and smug rationalizations would tend to make us realize. This nation is reeling under the burden of a deeply wounded cultural context in which millions of misguided youths are now sold out to moral & ethical bankruptcy and Machiavellian daily pursuit of fraud is euphemistically called hustle. The putrefaction is all over the media as rag-tag bands of demon-infested seventeen-year-olds now queue up at the ramshackle shrine of the neighbourhood’s ritualist witch doctor, daggers in hand, waiting with bated breath for an opportunity to rip out the heart of some hapless neighbour or trusting family member, all in a sickening quest to ‘blow’.
Before consecrated intercessors capitulate and begin to bask in the moral debauchery of our political Sodom, we should rather tremble and ask ourselves which aspect of his Christian ethic or his sacred Yoruba values rationalize for Vice President Osinbajo, this basking in insidious political glory at the expense of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It matters little that drug-crazed street urchins and motley bands of stomach infrastructure political lumpens cheer him on.
Omotayo Suleiman, Public Affairs Analyst, wrote from firstname.lastname@example.org