By Bolaji Buhari
Pastor Tunde Bakare, the Presiding Pastor, Latter Rain Assembly, has urged presidential candidates to look beyond the 2019 elections and place the interest of the nation above their political interests.
Bakare, who is also the Convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), gave the advice in Lagos on Sunday while delivering the 2019 State of the Nation Address in his church.
He urged all the candidates not to see the 2019 election as a do-or-die affair or consider winning it as the only means of impacting positively on nation-building and good governance.
The SNG convener said Nigeria was losing with the winner-takes-all politics, adding that he believed all candidates could work together in a team after the polls for the common agenda of building a better Nigeria.
“Our country needs a uniting force that can rally our diverse strengths around a common narrative, towards a common objective, to achieve a common vision – The Nigeria of Our Dreams.
“After all is said and done, may Nigeria win, no matter who wins or loses in this year’s elections. After the elections, we have a nation to build together.
“I am reminded of the words of Anwar al-Sadat, ‘There can be hope only for a society which acts as one big family, not as many separate ones’.
“With our zero-sum game and winner-takes-all politics, we could be losing the ideas, the brilliance, and all the strengths required to build a nation.
“But when, beyond the elections, the Buharis, the Atikus, the Moghalus, the Ezekwesilis, the Durotoyes, the Sowores and the likes come together to minimise our weaknesses and maximise our strengths, as one political family, with one agenda – nationhood, we can shape a new nation beyond 2019,“ he said.
Bakare said restructuring was a precondition for the progress of the country, advising that candidates could form what he called, ‘Team Restructuring’ to address the country’s challenges after the elections.
He said the array of brilliant candidates paraded by some of the political parties was a good development for the nation’s democracy.
Bakare said with candidates like Mrs Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Prof. Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), voters had great choices to select from.
The SNG convener added that President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubabakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had also made promises for a better Nigeria and that it was left for the electorate to make their choice.
He, however, said he was disappointed by the way people in both APC and PDP had made the journey of Abubakar a big issue.
Bakare said the issue of who could or could not travel to America had little or no relevance to governance and the nation’s development.
The SNG convener urged politicians to face the real campaign issues and stop distracting Nigerians with things that could not better their lots.
On the insurgency war, Bakare said the recent setbacks recorded by the country were more of declining patriotism among the troops more than other reasons.
He said the declining patriotism was also demonstrated by other Nigerians on a daily basis, because of little hope in the country.
Bakare urged leaders to deliver the country of everyone’s dream to change this mindset and attitude.
“On the resurgence of terrorists activities, the president, the National Security Council, the Ministry of Defence, the Army Headquarters, and the National Assembly Committees on Defence must re-examine the defence architecture, especially the human resource factor, and address every anomaly in the interest of the vulnerable, rather than the powerful.
“Failure to do this could undo the gains of the war on terror. The soldiers, on their part, must approach the call of duty with civility and courage; with civility because the reports and allegations of human rights violations by the military are repugnant and unbecoming of the distinguished profession.
“Their code of conduct must be influenced by the words of Proverbs 14:31 (MSG): ‘You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless; when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God’.
“ In addition, we enjoin them to continue to act with courage, because, in the words of General George S. Patton: ‘Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men’.
“To our soldiers in the theatre of war, you carry the weight of the hopes of a generation on your shoulders. May God replenish your resolve and reward your courageous resilience.
“For those who have died in combat, we owe these heroic patriots the eternal duty of ensuring that they did not die in vain.
“Not only does the government owe their families adequate welfare packages and the assurance of a decent future, we, the people of Nigeria, for whose sake they laid down their lives, must become soldiers in our own right; we must become soldiers for good governance.
“At crucial moments such as the coming elections, responsible choices must become our weapons in the theatre of citizen engagement, and credible leadership must become our banner of victory.
“We owe the memories of these soldiers a well-governed nation, a nation that is worth their sacrifice, because good governance is the soil upon which patriotism is nurtured, and a nation that is worth dying for must be worth living in,” he said.
Bakare said the church would continue to be involved in engagements to reshape the country and awaken its consciousness for a better tomorrow.