We may all never get to understand Pastor Tunde Bakare for a very long time. But time and season will keep unravelling him for those who pay keen attention to his piety, his politics and his persona.
He is not your conventional kind of pastor. He is not the type you can put in a mould either. Right from his practicing years as a lawyer, he had distinguished himself as a non-conformist.
Yet, some have come to hate him for his guts. They are not happy with him perhaps because he is not the type that has a lid on his lips in matters of common interest.
From close observation, which may be wrong, Bakare is not the type you whisper to his ears matters that are meant for public consumption. You can’t be too sure, that side talk will not come up in his next pulpit message.
Those who love him on the other hand, love him with so much passion and would not give colouration to his nuances. He is no doubt one of the few church leaders who have built loyal followership.
Most of those who have been with him since he started the Latter Rain Assembly which has since metamorphosed to Citadel Global Community Church are still with him. That is why, though the church is a one branch church, it has embarked on multibillion naira projects over the years.
Truth be told, if you have ever met him, you cannot but fall in love with his simplicity, his frankness and his perpetual willingness to bare his mind not minding whose ox is gored.
He is a practical preacher. He seems to have nothing to hide; even matters that are considered private are divulged on the pulpit.
There was a particular year he talked on how a lady almost seduced him. The lady according to him had come for counselling and right there in the office, the lady was about to pick an object on the ground, her breasts slipped out of her bra. That was the end of the counselling as he had to save his life from a present temptation.
He also once talked about being in a hotel room abroad where all the channels he tuned to were showing X-rated films. He said he called his wife immediately and told her there was fire on the mountain. He is that open and frank about matters of his life.
In the early 90s when he launched a pulpit war against Pastor Enoch Adeboye and Bishop David Oyedepo, many people wondered at his audacity. There was no social media then. Perhaps, if he had done what he did in the 90s today, the church community would be jolted.
But he seems to have grown. Or perhaps he has evolved in his approach to issues. For many years now, he has stoked less controversy about the church, though, from his messages, his convictions are still intact. Just a few months ago, he gave insight into his relationship with the quartet of Adeboye, Oyedepo, Williams Kumuyi and Matthew Ashimolowo. That interview was one of the most detailed in recent time.
But largely Bakare seems to be more at home with politics. His politics and his pew are intertwined. His definition of ministry does not fall into the traditional cocoon. Your ministry is your passion. That seems to be his idea and he believes our lives as believers should not be compartmentalized.
So, anybody who wants to place him under a binocular must view him from the angle of a man whose eyes are multi-faced but single.
That is why for many reasons his friends and ardent followers do not see his gaffes starting from when his prophecy on President Olusegun in his first term as president, generated so much hoopla. And then his latest metaphor of being the number 16 in Nigeria’s presidency ladder. That can’t be called a failed prophecy yet since time is still on his side.
The implication of a Bakare however is that if you take him on a face value you will lose out on his message. For those who don’t understand his politics, you would be tempted to wonder why he seems to ‘desecrate’ the pulpit with ‘unholy’ political offerings.
Those who take exceptions to his modus operandi just don’t feel comfortable that the pulpit is his podium. Yet, some of such people talk about the political mountain that needed to be seized by believers.
Their understanding of such taking over is to be part of the conventional political system and never to talk politics on the pulpit. It is believed that the call to preach is higher than the call to politics.
So, each time Bakare talks politics, he gets some attack from varied quarters. Yet, many of those who freely nail may not follow his exhaustive Bible teachings every Wednesday.
They don’t see his many sermons that are more about strengthening one’s relationship with God. All they see is a man who has got himself stuck in the murky waters of politics; who is ready to do anything for the sake of his number 16 ambition
The issue then is, why will somebody who flew the kite of being the number 16 suddenly promote Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who is reportedly also eyeing the presidency? Is it a game plan for his number 16 ambition? You may never get to understand the intrigue that is playing out. A political chessboard game is no doubt being played and only the initiated can understand.
There are certain things however that we should note despite whatever misgivings one may have about Pastor Bakare. He is a man whose life is sufficiently open. You don’t need to probe him before he tells you things you consider secret.
It is in this light one should view his recent comments on Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu. Buried in the belly of the perceived encomiums on Tinubu is a subtle unravelling of the politician’s characterisation. What his comments, which came rather from the blues have done is to put Ashiwaju on the front burner as noted by Farooq kperog the celebrated essayist.
But that in no way should shield us from further understanding why he x-rayed Tinubu in that church meeting. The question is, is Tinubu an achiever? Nobody can deny that. What Bakare has done is to separate Tinubu’s morality from his monumental achievements which are too glaring for all to see.
The question then is, is he endorsing the modus operandi of Tinubu? Should the end justify the means no matter how atrocious the means are? Is Bakare clapping for Tinubu irrespective of his alleged moral failures?
A number of people have wondered what could have informed Bakare’s thought line. But those who know him are too certain that he can’t be bought. And certainly, from his antecedents, there are clear indications he can’t be bought.
First, he too, like the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi has deep pockets. It’s difficult to buy over men like that. Second, he seems to be at peace with himself and also have a deep sense of contentment. His relationship with former president Goodluck Jonathan attests to this fact. He publicly rejected a car gift from the former president.
But the minus for Bakare is that he dramatises everything about his life, his politics and his ministry. It is the bit of drama that he puts to his engagements that puts colour on his actions and attracts jibes from people.
Another issue is: Was the matter about Tinubu so strong that it couldn’t be addressed in a press conference? Why choose the pulpit? For someone who does not see a difference between the pulpit and the podium, it will be wrong to sound his knell based on that.
What we may have to be concerned about is whether his comments on Tinubu was an endorsement of the alleged moral failures of the well-known politician or just an indication of the stormy petrel characterisation of Bakare. This will be unveiled in a matter of time.
By Gbenga Osinaike.