Serving Overseer of The Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has declared his intention to contest the presidency in 2023 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Bakare, who disclosed his intention during a Zoom event organised by the PTB4-Nigeria movement on Saturday evening, claimed he was one of the founders of the APC and has never been part of any other party.
He said: “It was my privilege to move the motion for the merger between Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), on February 6, 2013, which resulted in the emergence of the APC, and I have never been part of any other party apart from that. By God’s grace, that will be the party I will seek the opportunity to serve and lead my nation.”
The event was organised to unveil ‘Project 16’ to Nigerians in the diaspora. In his address, Bakare said his ambition is based on a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by the average Nigerian.
He noted that his mandate would be founded on peace, progress, prosperity and possibilities, adding that ‘Project 16’ is focused on his interest in becoming Nigeria’s 16th leader since the country gained independence in 1960.
“Against the backdrop of the prevailing state of the nation, we need a leader who can reconcile historical and current differences, reintegrate various ethnic and religious constituent parts into true nationhood and rebuild the broken walls of federalism, while maximising Nigeria’s diverse, geo-economic potential.
“Project 16 is not just about me. It’s not just about the presidential ambition of any man. In any case, I do not have a self-generated ambition. What I do have is a vision of a new Nigeria that was birthed in me from childhood and an honest aspiration to serve as the 16th president of my beloved nation, Nigeria.
“Birthing the new Nigeria is the mission of the 16th administration. The new Nigeria is a nation where no one goes to bed hungry and no child is left out of school without access to quality education; where our homes, schools, streets, highways and villages are safe and secure and Nigerians can work, play or travel with their minds at rest and go to bed with their hearts at peace.
“It’s a Nigeria where our hospitals are life-saving institutions and every Nigerian has access to good, quality healthcare; where no youth is unemployed and our young men and women are job creators; where businesses thrive on innovation and made-in-Nigeria can compete anywhere in the global market; where homes and businesses have access to clean and uninterrupted power supply and ideas are facilitated by functional infrastructure and cutting-edge technology,” he said.
He added that joblessness is responsible for the persistent insecurity in the country, saying that the vast majority of young people that are jobless are the ones easily recruited by those who are plaguing the nation with kidnapping and all kinds of terrorism.
“If we are able by God’s grace to get them engaged, employed and settled in their own environment to become productive, you will see that those attacks will wean.
“You have heard reports of our arms and ammunition getting into the hands of terrorists. If we build a formidable military, that is strong and well trained to tackle external aggression and join our police to tackle internal rebellion, we will be able to stem the tide of this plague of terrorism, kidnapping and all kinds of affliction that are now producing a profit of crime to our young people whose means of livelihood have been cut off and who are ready to die just in case they are killed,” the clergyman stated.
Speaking on his plans if elected as president, the cleric noted that his administration would make the ‘New Nigeria’ dream a reality.
“The message is simply ‘A New Nigeria for Every Nigerian.’ The 16th dispensation will be about making the New Nigeria the reality for every Nigerian. This is what the PTB brand stands for. It means that no part of our nation – North, South, East or West – should feel marginalised in Nigeria.”
Bakare added that the current challenges facing the country remain an opportunity for the right individuals to take the mantle of leadership in the country.
“The factors that have thus far shaped our national trajectory are converging towards a tipping point. I am confident that the darkest nights produce the brightest stars. Now is the time and this is the moment for such nation-builders to work towards one objective: the emergence of a New Nigeria.
“Inspired by my childhood dream and in line with my trajectory in bringing together the best of the North and the best of the South, it would be the honour and privilege of my life to facilitate this coalition of nation-builders as we collectively take the sixteenth step or leap towards the Nigeria of our dreams,” he declared.
MEANWHILE, prominent Yoruba socio-political groups, Afenifere and Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, yesterday, differed over the declaration of Bakare to contest for the 2023 presidential election.
While the apex Yoruba group said irrespective of whatever the cleric might have said in the past, his fundamental rights to contest cannot be questioned, Yoruba Ronu noted that the cleric is too inconsistent in his comments and it would be near impossible for any reasonable Nigerian to take him (Bakare) seriously.
In separate reactions, the Chairman of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said irrespective of how Bakare lampooned Afenifere in the past over its tough disposition towards the National Leader of APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in a sermon that went viral, Adebanjo noted that “Bakare has his fundamental rights to aspire to contest for the 2023 presidency under any political party of his choice.”
The nonagenarian specifically said it doesn’t matter what Bakare said about Tinubu or any group that takes a tough stand against the former governor of Lagos, his right to seek elective positions cannot be questioned.
“Do you want Afenifere to condemn Bakare for running for the presidency in 2023? That is not possible. Or has Bakare said Afenifere should stop its agitation and demand for restructuring? No. As a matter of fact, I will be unhappy with whoever tries to stop or discourage Bakare from seeking election into the number one office. It is his desire and it is also for Nigerians to look in his direction or not,” he said.
Adebanjo also disagreed with the insinuation in some quarters that Bakare is into the race simply to spite or spoil Tinubu’s chances, saying, “I don’t think it’s right to think like that.”
However, President of the Yoruba Ronu Forum, Akin Malaolu, said from what Bakare said in the viral sermon in which he vilified Yoruba elders for standing against Tinubu, it could be interpreted to mean that the cleric is backing Tinubu’s presidential aspiration and for him (Bakare) to suddenly make a u-turn and declare interest to contest for the presidency does not add up.
Malaolu also blamed the cleric for a lot of what he described as inconsistent statements. “The same man will talk restructuring, talk intermediate government and has now declared to run for President of Nigeria. He even said God has told him he would be Nigeria’s 16th President after Buhari. This is confusing.”