The Inevitable Defeat of Pastor Tunde Bakare
By: Deji Yesufu
In my estimation, Pastor Tunde Bakare was the best of all the aspirants that sought the Presidential ticket on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC). That Tunde Bakare got zero votes from the primaries is more of an indictment on all of Nigerians. It is a testimony to the fact that the best of us continue to languish at the base of the country, while the worst of the lot enter political office. In a normal country, no one should be pushing an Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu or an Abubakar Atiku as president. Alas, this is not a normal country and we are left again to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea. The only ray of hope in the horizon, at least for some of us, is the Peter Obi phenomenon. This essay is not about Peter Obi; I have written quite a bit on him already. Instead, I want to examine something that I choose to call “The Inevitable Defeat of Pastor Tunde Bakare”, while at the same time draw out some relevant lessons.
In the year 1998, my third year in the University, I came to living faith in Jesus Christ. In a dramatic turn of events in my life, I became very religious and decided that I was going to make God, in Christ Jesus, the central focus of my personhood. I have never regretted that decision because it has helped me a lot in decision making. That same year, I met a young man called Israel Badaki. He was studying Geology at ABU, my alma mata, and was a rather reserved fellow. He took a liking in me and began to mentor me in the Christian faith. One of the tapes he gave me to listen to was preached by a totally unknown Tunde Bakare. The first message of Bakare I listened to was “Prophetic Cave Dwellers”. In this message, Bakare drew out lessons from the life of Elijah, particularly that instance where God told him that He had 7,000 that had not bowed the knee to Baal. Bakare said that although the life of the 7,000 that were following God in the days of idolatry in Israel was commendable, there was still that blemish in them: they were God’s prophets who chose to live in caves. That message instilled something in me: Christians cannot afford to be silent in the days when tyranny rules in the land.
Tunde Bakare exemplified this message perfectly because in the days when Sanni Abacha reigned with terror in Nigeria, Bakare spoke frequently against him. Bakare was picked up by the State Security Services (SSS) at various times and was continually intimidated by their presence in his church auditorium. It did not deter Bakare from criticizing them. One day, Tunde Bakare gave a prophetic declaration: he said that by the close of a certain week in 1998, Sani Abacha will be dead. It happened as he said and the relatively unknown pastor was shot into national limelight. Bakare’s popularity was short lived because he soon made another prophetic declaration, in latter months, as the country drew up to its first elections after many years of military rule: Bakare said that Olusegun Obasanjo was not Nigeria’s messiah. He said Obasanjo was Agag and from the biblical account, Agag was hacked down by the prophetic sword of Samuel. Unfortunately for Bakare, Obasanjo finished his two terms as President and the Owu chief is still alive today – having celebrated his 85th birthday this past week. Bakare quickly developed a reputation for being a prophet whose prophecies were not always accurate.
I remained a follower of Tunde Bakare until 2013 when I renounced Pentecostalism as a denomination (today I am a professing reformed Baptist: a subject for another article). I did not leave Pentecostalism because of Bakare’s failed prophecies: I left because of the plethora of defects in the character of many Pentecostal leaders. I also discovered that the Word of Faith doctrines were plain heresies and that at its core is an undermining of the gospel of Christ: which is actually what a Christian must end up preaching, regardless of what we pursue in life and ministry. Along the line of renouncing Pentecostalism, I also renounced belief in prophets and apostles. I came to a realization that only biblical prophets gave accurate prophecies and that the Bible actually warns against individuals giving failed prophecies: scripture regard such individuals as false prophets. Because of my close observation of Tunde Bakare, his life, family, doctrine, etc, I will be very reluctant to call him a false prophet because of his failed prophecies. Rather, I will like to call him a presumptuous personality and the dangers with presumption is that many times it fails us.
This is why when a video emerged on the internet and Tunde Bakare was saying that he was going to succeed Muhammadu Buhari, I knew that he had again ventured on one of his presumptuous statements that are often couched under the title of prophecies. I knew that Bakare will ultimately fail in his quest to get the APC presidential ticket. I followed the primaries keenly and was quite hopeful that maybe I will be proven wrong: maybe this will be one of those one in a hundred prophecies that Pentecostal prophets make that come to pass. Alas, Bakare got no votes from the delegates at the APC presidential primaries and the rest, like they say, is history.
Bakare’s inevitable defeat could be founded on two things: first, the horrible realities of the Christian life outside the confines of a church fellowship. If the primaries were run by Christians, and based on Christian principles: where none of the delegates needed to be bribed with thousands of dollars, it is possible that Tunde Bakare would have gotten a few votes and maybe even won the contest on the mere fact of his character as a leader. The fact still remains that Tunde Bakare is an exceptionally brilliant personality who rose from abject poverty, obtained an education and founded a thriving law practice in 1984. He left law and entered into Christian ministry. He has led that church for many years, influencing many young people in life and ministry. I was personally taught self-development and entrepreneurship through the teachings of Bakare that I got at his church when I attended it briefly in 2004. While at the church in Ogba, I saw how his leadership acumen brought about such order in ministry that could easily be transformed to running an orderly government in this large and disorderly entity we call Nigeria. This is why I began this article by saying that I am convinced that Bakare was the best candidate in the APC primaries. But Bakare’s inevitable defeat lay at the fact that he was dealing with men who know nothing of a Christian worldview and were not willing to allow a level playing ground in their politicking.
The second thing that lay at the heart of Bakare’s defeat are these presumptions he calls prophecies. God did not tell Tunde Bakare that he was going to be the 16th President of Nigeria. If God did, Bakare would have won the APC primaries. Instead he got zero votes. Bakare’s defeat is a pointer to a greater malaise that lies not just in the life and ministry of Tunde Bakare, but at the heart of Christian ministry in general in Nigeria. Christians need to understand this biblical testament: the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of true prophecy. All of prophecy is founded on the pages of scripture and fulfilled in Christ and his calling to save sinners. What that means is this: Christians do not have a sure home in this world. While we may have a commitment to leave our world better than we met it and we have a commitment to social concerns and development, at the heart of the Christian message is a gospel that calls sinner to repentance and faith. Somewhere and somehow in the ministry and life of Tunde Bakare, this message has been lost and I think that God has sent this unusual rebuke to call Tunde Bakare back to true ministry.
One of the messages that Israel Badaki gave me, preached by Tunde Bakare, were sermons that he directed at Benson Idahosa. Bakare will say to Idahosa: “you have lost your vision and calling in life; by pursuing wealth and mundane things, you are no longer serving Christ but your belly”. I will be reluctant to say that Bakare has also lost his vision in ministry. I will rather say that true Christian ministry is calling sinners to repentance and faith. National development, and the redemption of Nigeria is a side calling which should not envelope our true calling. If Tunde Bakare is called to pastor people, he could focus on that calling for now. His advice for national development will always be welcome but it is obvious that he is not the one that God will use to save this country ultimately.
The title of this article is taken from the movie “The Ultimate Defeat of Mister and Pete”. A 2013 American movie that tells the story of two young boys who spent their summer holidays evading arrest from the police after their cocaine dealing mothers were arrested. Ultimately they were caught and with retrospect they realized that the police were not pursuing to arrest them just to clamp them in jail but for their ultimate good and preservation. Perhaps God has permitted this defeat in Tunde Bakare to allow for self-introspection and a whole revamping of the ministry that Jesus Christ has committed to his hands. The Bible says that all things work together for the good of God’s saints. I am positive that if Tunde Bakare is an elect of Christ, the defeat at the APC primaries will only add to him and to his ministry.