Tunde Bakare, serving overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church (formerly Latter Rain Assembly), says it is clear President Bola Tinubu picked the wrong fight by initiating policy reforms, removing petrol subsidy without going after corrupt public office holders, and corporations who made the subsidy regime unsustainable.
He also said the president’s reforms have brought hardship on Nigerians, the effect of which the palliatives provided would be insufficient to cushion for Nigerians.
Bakare, a former vice presidential candidate said this Sunday during an address at his church in Lagos.
“…what is even clearer is that the president had been handed a month of grace by the previous administration; a month that should have been used to put in place cushioning effects before the official expiration of the subsidised economy,” he said.
“What is further clear concerning our domestic challenges is that, by imposing hardship on Nigerians without going after those corrupt individuals, corporations and government officials who have plundered Nigeria over the years in the name of subsidy, the president has picked the wrong fight.
The clergyman who tried to get the presidential ticked for the 2023 presidential election under the All Progressives Congress (APC) also spoke against what he calls “Emilokan” politics by President Tinubu.
This term, derived from Yoruba, meaning “It’s my turn,” gained attention when President Bola Tinubu used it in his 2023 pre-election campaign.
Bakare expressed concerns about this type of politics, which he sees as leaning toward authoritarianism. He cautioned that it could lead to an imperium presidency inclined toward dictatorship and intolerance of dissent.
“I warned that the politics of entitlement; the ’emilokan’ type of politics would breed an imperium presidency, one that would slide towards dictatorship and would be intolerant of dissent,” he said. “It is clear President Bola Tinubu picked the wrong fight by initiating policy reforms without going after corruption public office holders.”
It was learnt that Bakare’s comments were prompted by recent events, including the arrest and prosecution of the suspended Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and the detention of the former head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Emefiele’s arrest took place in June, based on suspected new criminal information. The Federal High Court in Lagos is set to hear his application to halt his trial by the DSS on August 15.
Bakare criticised the DSS’s handling of these cases, raising questions about professionalism and adherence to the rule of law. He also discussed the ongoing war against corruption, suggesting that it has been disproportionately focused on political adversaries rather than addressing all major enemies of Nigeria.
While Bakare acknowledged that Emefiele may have made mistakes in managing the country’s monetary affairs, he emphasised the need for fair and equitable justice, indicating that if found guilty, Emefiele should face prosecution. He also hinted that Emefiele’s actions might have been sanctioned at a higher level within the government.
The church leader called on the president to use his enormous powers to fight the hydra-headed problem of corruption.
“Some might say that you, Mr President, are too tainted to fight corruption because you were escorted into the presidency by a retinue of corruption allegations. Some might even describe you as transparently opaquely corrupt because, despite the indicators of state capture allegedly linked to you, no one has proved these allegations against you in any Nigerian court of competent jurisdiction,” he said.
“Some might argue that even the road you took to the presidency was itself paved with filth from the cesspool of corruption and that you are, therefore, incapable of mounting any genuine fight against corruption. Mr President, while we admit that, as of today, our nation has transitioned from an administration that came to power on the 12/30 supposed wings of integrity and anti-corruption to one that cannot be described as such, the fact remains that you are today the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with enormous powers to fight against corruption in its hydra-headed forms.”