BEING TEXT OF SPEECH DELIVERED AT THE LATTER RAIN ASSEMBLY ON SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2012, AS A CONTRIBUTION TO PUBLIC ENLIGHTENMENT ON THE STATE OF THE NATION
THEME: HOW TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT PEACEFULLY AND MAKE SOCIETY BETTER
Pastor Tunde Bakare
Fellow citizens of our great country, household faithfuls at The Latter Rain Assembly, Gentlemen of the Press, and every other person present, welcome to this special occasion. At the beginning of this month, during the Father’s Day celebration, an invitation was extended to every concerned citizen of our nation to attend this special lecture – our humble contribution towards nation-building. We would like to place on the register our gratitude to God and our profound appreciation for the leadership and members of The Latter Rain Assembly for the provision of this auditorium. After all, in matters of public enlightenment, the church should be in the forefront of such efforts, going by the definitive proclamation of Jesus concerning the church. Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV):
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
In addition, for those befuddled in their minds about our role in this process, let me again rely on the words of Prophet Malachi written exclusively to those in priestly garments who have forgotten their God-ordained role in matters of nation-building:
Malachi 2:1-9 (NKJV):
1“And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. 2 If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,” says the Lord of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart. 3 “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it. 4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant with Levi may continue,” says the Lord of hosts. 5 “My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear Me; so he feared Me and was reverent before My name. 6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity. 7 “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of hosts. 9 “Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept My ways but have shown partiality in the law.”
For those questioning our intentions and the use of this platform to disseminate truths that will unblock the minds of our citizens and set them free from limiting thoughts that produce self-defeat, there you have it in black and white in the Holy Writ:
Malachi 2:7 (NKJV):
“For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.”
Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, saints and strangers, do I then have your permission this morning to perform this noble role of a messenger to a nation on the road to perdition and self-annihilation?
Having given me an overwhelming yes, please permit me to quickly add that, beyond the church being a lighthouse to a dark world, and beyond the role of the priest as a messenger whose lips should keep knowledge and from whose mouth the people should seek the law, there is an additional burden of the watchman and his message that is totally lost on the prosperity merchants and their crowd. Please turn your Bibles with me to the Book of Ezekiel the Prophet, chapter 33:1-20:
1 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ 7 “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. 10 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?”’ 11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ 12 “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ 13 When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. 14 Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live. 17 “Yet the children of your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ But it is their way which is not fair! 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. 19 But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is lawful and right, he shall live because of it. 20 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, I will judge every one of you according to his own ways.”
I invited all and sundry here this morning because I can see the sword already upon this land – shall I then blow the trumpet? Not to do so would be a disservice to my nation and outright disobedience to God – a luxury I cannot afford. Therefore, lend me your ears.
For the sake of clarity and to keep within the boundary of the subject of our contemplation this morning – ‘How to Change Government Peacefully and Make Society Better’ – I have arranged this lecture under four major headings:
WHO TRULY RULES IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN?
THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IN A NATION
HOW TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT IN A PEACEFUL MANNER
THE WAY FORWARD
I will take the headings one by one.
HEADING 1: WHO TRULY RULES IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN?
Today, it is common practice among pseudo-intellectuals worldwide to mock biblical teachings on God, Satan and demons. But to those who are wise and discerning, it is clear that behind the socio-political and economic evils of our time lie supernatural powers.
It is true that God Almighty is “the blessed and only Potentate [Sovereign], the King of kings and Lord of lords” (I Timothy 6:13-16). It is also true that honour and everlasting power belong to God. Nonetheless, in the wisdom of God who rules in the affairs of men, He allows or permits the lowest of men to occupy apex power positions in order that the living may know and hopefully learn.
The New Testament’s perspective on the grip of evil over our socio-political and economic systems comes from the Old Testament prophet, Daniel. Daniel was a young man when Babylonians invaded his city Jerusalem, destroyed it, brutally massacred his people and carried their royalty into slavery in Babylon. Later, they returned to destroy God’s temple and placed God’s sacred vessels in the temple of their god. This humiliating horror raised disturbing theological questions: Who really rules in the affairs of this world? Who is in control of history – at least at this moment? Why are the kingdoms of this world at times so cruel, brutal, exploitative and oppressive? From the Book of Daniel come three clear answers that can help us navigate our own murky political waters and deliver our nation from imminent bankruptcy and balkanization:
GOD IS THE SUPREME POTENTATE:
Daniel 2:20-22 (NKJV) -
20 Daniel answered and said “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.
2. GOD, THE SUPREME POTENTATE RULES IN THE KINGDOM OF MEN AND GIVES IT TO WHOMEVER HE WILL AND SETS OVER IT THE LOWEST OF MEN:
Daniel 4:13-18 (NKJV) -
13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus: ‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, and the birds from its branches. 15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, bound with a band of iron and bronze, in the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts on the grass of the earth. 16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, let him be given the heart of a beast, and let seven times pass over him. 17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.’ 18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”
3. WHENEVER THE LOWEST OF MEN OCCUPY APEX POWER POSITIONS, IN THEIR NAIVETY, THEY YIELD TO DEMONIC POWERS WHO THEN RULE THROUGH THEM:
As Daniel humbled himself, fasted and prayed for understanding, he was given a glimpse of the supernatural realm. He saw clearly that behind the socio-political and economic evils of his time lay supernatural powers.
For example, in Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt about a statue made of gold, silver, bronze and iron, each representing four successive empires: Babylonian (gold), Medo-Persian (silver), Greek (bronze) and Roman (iron). After their rule, a mere stone – the kingdom of God – brought all the evil kingdoms of this world to an end.
Curiously, in chapter 7, we read that Daniel, a captive turned learned governor and president, humbled himself in fasting and prayer, seeking to understand where history was going and God’s role in its unravelling. He was given the vision of the same four kingdoms Nebuchadnezzar had seen earlier, except that Daniel saw them not as a dazzling statue of precious metals but as beasts that devoured: the lion (Babylonian), the bear (Medo-Persian), and the leopard (Greek), and the “fourth beast [was] dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong”. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left (Daniel 7:7). This fourth beast was Daniel’s vision of the Roman Empire.
Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, the kingdoms of this world were and are beastly, because behind them were and are evil supernatural forces. This understanding of evil as something more than natural, human or socio-political did not begin with Daniel. Israel’s first king became evil, despotic and murderous, and the Bible explains that God’s Spirit had left him and an evil spirit began to torment him (I Samuel 16:14-23).
Likewise, in the Book of Judges, socio-political evils are seen as a direct result of spiritual evil, specifically the operation of the spirit of ill will sent by God when Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men to kill all the seventy (70) sons of Gideon so that he could become king.
22 After Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years, 23 God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech…
Each of the earlier mentioned biblical texts and a plethora of others affirm that God remains Sovereign over His creation even when He allows evil spirits or devils to hold sway. Apostle Paul explains in Romans 1:18-32 that God gives whole cultures over to evil when humans choose to suppress truth with wickedness. This is where we are in Nigeria today. To the discerning, the nation has been thrown to the dogs of pervasive corruption and disruptive, perennial insecurity. The question begging for an answer is: Who will deliver us from this self-induced chaotic disorder?
HEADING 2: THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT
The purpose of any meaningful government is the welfare and security of the people. In our clime, neither welfare nor security of the lives and property of our people seems to matter anymore. Our malady is not new. History holds records of nations who were bled to death by their rulers and tells how such leaders were ultimately dealt with when the oppressed could no longer bear the heavy weight of their oppressive and insensitive leadership. Biblical history also alludes to this. While the people kept suffering in the midst of plenty in the days of King Solomon, who used his wisdom to satisfy his unquenchable thirst and hunger for material acquisition and outlandish women of all shapes and shades, a day came in the life of the nation when the people kicked and shouted, “We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel!” (I Kings 12:16). The rebellion did not only stand, God also rubberstamped it and said “this thing is from me”(I Kings 12:24) — it was orchestrated by the GREAT ORGANIZED DESIGNER (GOD).
It is unfortunate that our people are crying today for change, but they are expecting the change to either fall from the sky or come from sources that cannot produce it. It is simple logic that when a corrupt leader is in office, he corrupts those he leads. This is true of a family, true of a church, and true of a nation. A corrupt father will ultimately corrupt his family as he cannot distinguish between his wife and his son’s wife. A corrupt pastor will corrupt, influence, affect and infect his church as he prioritizes outreaches, programmes and projects executed with filthy lucre flowing from the perverse and the corrupt above the spiritual welfare of the congregants. And a corrupt elected official will infect his nation with corruption. I cannot but borrow a leaf from the profound lecture delivered by Prof. Niyi Osundare recently on the state of the nation titled: ‘Why We No Longer Blush: Corruption as Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’. He said, and I quote:
“Watch out, Nigeria: a new Jonathan seems to be emerging, one who confuses cockiness with confidence, tactlessness with toughness, strong-manship with statesmanship.”
President Jonathan’s combination of naivety and amorality is as profound as it is injurious to the health of this country. Can a corruption-compliant ruler really lead a corruption-free country? If change – positive change – will ever come to our clime, it will not be engineered by those who are benefitting without conscience from the present cesspool of corrosive corruption. It will and can only come from a new breed without greed and a radical opposition to corruption. True, genuine change can only come from those not infected by the present corruption malaise; it can only come from positive agents of social change who are totally sold out to public good.
HEADING 3: HOW TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT IN A PEACEFUL MANNER
Every time I have considered this subject, only one thing flows from me towards President Goodluck Jonathan – genuine pity. Anyone who has had the privilege of sitting with Mr. President, as I sometimes have, will feel the same for this simple soul who has become a victim of circumstances generated and orchestrated by his bramble predecessor, who, in his bid to be king of all trees, used his position to force on the nation the sick, the weak, and the ill-equipped in an attempt to dominate the polity and maintain his larger than life status out of office (Judges 9:8-15). So, it did not come as a surprise to me at all when, two days ago, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila cited Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution, saying that any action of the President defined as “gross misconduct” by the National Assembly was “sufficient grounds to initiate impeachment proceedings against him.” Let me quote verbatim from Friday July 20, 2012’s Punch [‘Budget: Lawmakers threaten to impeach President’] to buttress my point:
Gbajabiamila had proposed the amendment to a motion before the House on the poor implementation of the 2012 budget.
“If by September 18, the budget performance has not improved to 100%, we shall begin to invoke and draw up articles of impeachment against Mr. President”, he said.
Members shouted aloud “yes”, “yes”, “yes” and clapped for the minority leader as Gbajabiamila made the proposal.
He accused the executive of allegedly breaching the Appropriation Act, 2012 by engaging in “selective implementation” of the budget.
Gbajabiamila added, “What we have in our hands today is a budget of abracadabra; a budget of voodoo economy.
“I like Mr. President, he is a fine gentleman, but I like my people, the Nigerian people more.”
Indeed, Mr. President may be a fine gentleman thrust into a position of leadership by circumstances beyond his control who is now facing a barrage of problems he is incapable of solving. He deserves our sympathy, our prayers, and whatever else we can honourably and legally do to make sure he gets back to his home-base safely.
Perhaps a few suggestions may change the course of our rapid descent into the abyss, since free, fair and credible election is presently alien to our polity. In all honesty, I perceive very strongly that our next general election will be better, though it may come earlier than expected.
Now, a few suggestions:
First and foremost, THE UNQUESTIONABLE GOD FACTOR: From both biblical and human history, sometimes – if not at all times – God moves behind the scenes in unimaginable ways and fosters changes that are beyond human comprehension – especially when all hope is lost. Indeed, God changes the times and the seasons, He removes kings and raises up kings (Daniel 2:21 & 22). The same God who raised David the shepherd boy from the sheepfold and made him king over Israel, and deposed the insane King Saul, still does what pleases Him in the nations of the earth. Oftentimes, when citizens are pushed to the wall and rulers boastfully think they are irremovable due to their political sagacity and ‘matter of cash’ policy, a Jehu type of prophetic revolution is in the making. Other times, God replaces the mighty and the powerful with their own appointed palace administrators. One biblical example is sufficient for our time and our clime. Hear the declarations of God as recorded in Isaiah 22:15-25 (NKJV):
15 Thus says the Lord God of hosts: “Go, proceed to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the house, and say: 16 ‘What have you here, and whom have you here, that you have hewn a sepulcher here, as he who hews himself a sepulcher on high, who carves a tomb for himself in a rock? 17 Indeed, the Lord will throw you away violently, O mighty man, and will surely seize you. 18 He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball into a large country; there you shall die, and there your glorious chariots shall be the shame of your master’s house. 19 So I will drive you out of your office, and from your position will pull you down. 20 ‘Then it shall be in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; 21 I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open. 23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house. 24 ‘They will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. 25 In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the Lord has spoken.’”
By the way, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah was a palace administrator lifted by God to the status of a king. God placed upon his shoulders the very keys of David to open and shut as he willed (Isaiah 36:3; NKJV). With God all things are possible — so he who has ears to hear, let him hear.
RESIGNATION: Even for a seasoned, well-cooked and well-equipped UK prime minister like Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, the moment the people rose against her policy, she did the honourable and noble thing – she resigned and returned to the parliament before retiring from politics. Resignation is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of patriotic truthfulness. It is giving opportunity to those who can do a better job in the interest of the nation to carry on with nation-building where the exiting leader stops.
IMPEACHMENT: This can only be carried out by the National Assembly and the process has begun. It may be aborted, or it may be carried to its logical conclusion. Either way, it is a worse option and carries a load of shame with it compared to resignation. Come to think of it, Mr. President should not wait for the conclusions in the court of law and the court of public opinion for the rape and atrocities committed against the Appropriation Act 2011 in respect of the subsidy scandal (a ghost that still haunts his administration and will not rest in peace until the truth is made known and justice is served). The admission of extra-budgetary spending of over N2 trillion without appropriation is another impeachable time bomb that can explode anytime. It would be a total disgrace if resignation comes after that explosion as was the case for Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal.
At this juncture, I cannot but wonder what is going on in the minds of those who falsely accused us of crying for regime change in January during the fuel hike crisis. It is the House of Assembly that is now championing same with overwhelming shouts of “yes”, “yes”, and “yes” from the floor members. History truly is lived forward but is written in retrospect. Today’s headlines and history’s judgement are rarely the same. Those who are too attentive to today’s headlines will most certainly not do the hard work of securing a positive verdict from history. Whether or not the President resigns or allows himself to be impeached is his call. In the words of Lord Chesterfield:
“A weak mind is like a microscope which magnifies trifling things but cannot receive great ones.”
If I were Mr. President – unfortunately, I am not, and I do not envy his tottering position, but if I were he – I would give no thought to what the world might say of me, or the drum the hangers-on and political jobbers benefitting from the present chaotic disorder might be beating. I would not “give a damn” if I could only transmit to posterity the reputation of an honest man thrust into the boxing ring to fight enemies I am ill-equipped to fight, and I would therefore resign before I receive a death blow.
3. THE PEOPLE’S REVOLT: I seriously wish and fervently pray that it will not get to the stage of a people’s revolt before positive changes begin to happen in the north and south of Nigeria. Without a doubt, if corruption remains king, violence its deputy, and insecurity the treasurer of the ill-fated status quo Federal Republic of Nigeria, we might as well write the gravestone epitaph today:
“Here lie the remains of a potentially great country whose ruin came because leadership did not give a damn; her filthiness was in her garments, her collapse was awesome, because she did not consider her destiny.”
HEADING 4: THE WAY FORWARD
Without a doubt, the catalogue of scandalous mismanagement of national resources, the unbridled stealing of public funds, and the bewildering exposure of the level of corruption in almost every arm of government as well as governmental agencies and parastatals, call for a change of guards – more so when the president has openly admitted that the security situation in the country has changed his pre-election agenda. And in spite of the president’s promises to deal with insecurity head-on, this government appears helpless because it cannot see the linkage between corruption and violence.
During the fuel hike protests in January this year, neither the threats to our lives nor the tanks that were rolled out brazenly to suppress genuine agitation against oppression, were scary to me. Rather, it was the bold placard held up in Abuja and Ojota Freedom Park by people unknown to me. The placard contained this startling message: “ONE DAY THE POOR WILL HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO EAT BUT THE RICH”; that was very scary to me, “because no nation, no matter how enlightened, can endure criminal violence. If we cannot control it, we are admitting to the world and to ourselves that our laws are no more than a facade that crumbles when the winds of crisis rise.” (Alan Bible)
For that not to happen is the reason for this message. This is no time for false accusations and counter accusations. Mr. President may be doing his best but the impact is not felt anywhere except in the bank accounts of oil vultures, his corrupt political allies and corporate cowboys. We have a patriotic duty to educate our people and we will continue to do that until light replaces the darkness in foggy minds, since education is considered a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army. In the words of Henry Peter Brougham:
“Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.”
If this message does that, our expectations would have been fully satisfied.
The starting point of any great enterprise is reality. If we are all ruthlessly and brutally honest about our inventory as a nation, Nigeria requires better handling than we are presently experiencing.
May the good Lord in His infinite mercies look down upon our affliction as a people, burst the gloomy cloud of despair over our nation, and raise for us visionary leaders imbued with wisdom, integrity, justice, courage, temperance and fortitude; leaders who we can trust and who can inspire confidence in our people for the rebuilding of our nation. Let me end this message by quoting Joseph Addison:
“There is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in a nation than a want of zeal in its inhabitants for the good of their country.”
May the zeal of God consume us as a people for the good of our country.
Thank you so much for your attentive ears. And may the good Lord heal, save, and make Nigeria great in our lifetime.
Once again, thank you all.
Dr. Tunde Bakare
The Latter Rain Assembly