The convener of Save Nigeria Group, SNG, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has accused some pastors and religious leaders of aiding and abetting corruption in the country, saying that they should all be locked up in a Nigerian prison in order for them to feel the pulse of the common man on the street.
The Latter Rain Assembly pastor, who said this during the group’s State of The Nation Lecture 2 held at NECA Building, CBD, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, called for a revolution, which he said should start from the churches and mosques.
Bakare called on the people to begin to cleanse the corrupt system by moving against religious leaders across Christianity and Islam who are using their positions to enrich themselves, and maintain ostentatious lifestyles, including buying private jets.
“All General overseers and religious leaders must go to prison, so they can feel the Nigerian situation. Lock Pastor Adeboye, Oyedepo, Kumuyi, myself and others up in a Nigerian prison, may be if we come out we will change and put the interest of our people first.
“This is not the first time I am saying it. I know I will be quoted tomorrow. If the revolution does not begin in the church or mosque, Nigeria will not change. Dubai (United Arab Emirates) once came to Nigeria to borrow money; what stopped six Dubais from happening in Nigeria is the corruption of our leaders.
“Preaching greed is sin, we have the confidence of millions of people and continue to fail them. That must change. Let’s take stones to the churches and mosques. Let the revolution start from there. Ask your religious leaders were they get the money they are spending lavishly from. Ask them were they get the wealth they use in purchasing private jets from.
“Except these institutions change, the country would not move forward. If revolution does not start from the churches and mosques, it would not spread. They are the ones controlling millions of followers. Any preacher who takes advantage of the people has the hottest place in hell reserved for him,” he said.
Bakare, who also called for a revolution against corruption and bad leadership, added that except Nigerians rise up against their corrupt and bad leaders, the citizens would continued to be taken for granted.
He urged them to immediately take to the streets and bring an end to corruption and bad governance, which he said were seriously threatening the survival of the nation.
The fiery preacher also took on former President Olusegun Obasanjo who reportedly expressed the fear at the weekend that a revolution was imminent in the country.
He declared that the former president would be one of the victims of the revolution, just as he challenged him to explain the source of his wealth.
“Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo called for revolution and it is going to fall on his head. He should tell us where he got the money he used to build his house in Abeokuta from and his farm at Ota. He should tell us how much he was paid as a military man.
“I mentioned him specifically because he was the one that called for a revolution. All the pastors who gathered around him in 1999, praying that God should give him wisdom to rule this country are the ones that led us to the sorry state that we are in now,” he said.
Calling for protests to immediately begin, Bakare noted that almost everywhere in the world, democracy was preceded by revolution, and development, just as he agonised that Nigeria had put the cart before the horse.
The guest speaker at the event, Pius Adesanmi, an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Literature at the Carleton University, Canada, while speaking on the topic, ‘What Nigeria Owes the Tortoise,’ described the wanton greed and selfishness of the political class in Nigeria as the bane of the nation’s progress.
He said that Nigerian leaders and the elite had over the years been behaving like the selfish tortoise of Yoruba traditional folktales, which always by trickery attempts to corner what belongs to the community for his exclusive use.
According to him, the idea of a “national cake,” being perpetually shared, and never baked was at the heart of the corruption and laziness that now define Nigerian life.
Former Minister of the Federal Capital territory, FCT, Nasir el-Rufai, said the country was at a crossroads, warning that the situation would degenerate if the people did not rise up to tackle the misdeeds bedevilling the nation.
He noted that creating what he called “Nigerian elite enclave mentality” would not shield anyone from the impending crises if the people refused to act now.
According to him, people below the age of 20 currently constitute the majority of the country’s population, but that they are faced with hardship and excruciating poverty.
He bemoaned the decadence in the social structure, which he said had led to an unending cycle of violence and blood-letting, stressing that all these problems manifesting in form of violence and terrorist attacks, were products of corruption, lack of adequate education, as well as the high unemployment rate in the country.
Democratic People’s Alliance, DPA, governorship candidate in the 2007 general elections, Jimi Agbaje, said that the only way to improve the quality of the country’s leadership was by building civil society by the citizenry so as to know the kind of people they elect to represent them.
He noted that the fight against corruption in the country could only succeed with the collective responsibility of both the leaders and the led, calling on Nigerians to resist corrupt leaders or they would be constantly pauperised by them.
The President of Women Arise, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, said the idea of always wanting to share the “national cake” had remained an obstacle to the nation’s development and urged the government to prosecute all the parties found culpable in the controversial oil subsidy scam.
“Gathering here is to prove a point that Nigeria belongs to all of us and we cannot fold hands and watch corruption tear us apart,” she said.
The Chairman of the Ikeja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani, said the country had failed but still working for those responsible for it. He called for a synergy between the public and the press to chart a new course for the nation in the fight against corruption.
Former member of the House of Representatives, Dino Melaye, said the country’s problem is mainly corruption, as 60 per cent of the nation’s budgetary allocation goes to mismanagement and corruption.
He said the country was at the “emergency ward” and would go to the “intensive care unit” if the people did not act.
By Jamiu Yisa