Dr. ‘Tunde Bakare, Serving Overseer of The Latter Rain Assembly (LRA) and Convener of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), has revealed that he faced the stiffest opposition from the church when he accepted to be Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 presidential election.

Buhari-Bakare contested the election on the platform of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) but it was Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who emerged victorious.

Speaking on Wednesday at the public presentation and launch of ‘Pendulum 1’, ‘Pendulum 2’ and ‘Fighting Lions’ by Dele Momodu, Bakare expressed happiness that even though the church considered him a “traitor” and his decision “sacrilegious” in 2011, it paved the way for the resounding support received by Yemi Osinbajo, a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, when he accepted the same offer in 2015.

Bakare made those comments while admonishing Momodu not to be dismayed by the lack of support from his own constituency — media and entertainment — when he ran for President in 2011.

“I understand that Fighting Lions captures Dele Momodu’s disappointment at the lack of support from his own constituency, the media and entertainment industries, in the 2011 elections,” he said.

“I am pleased to let you know that I am not a brother who is not touched by the feelings of your infirmity, for I also faced the same temptation you did, and so did my friend, Fola Adeola, but the grace of God saw us through. 

“It is no news that I participated in the same election as running mate to our current president, Muhammadu Buhari. With the negative image associated with the then General Buhari, especially the allegations of religious fundamentalism, being his running mate as a pastor was not an easy task at all. 

“Need I tell you that my strongest critics were from my constituency? To most leaders in the church, aligning with a man they considered an opponent of Christianity against another they considered a Christian was sacrilegious, to say the least. To them, I was a traitor, undeserving of support. Therefore, I understand Dele Momodu’s disappointment. Our experience mirrors that of Joseph who was sold by his brothers because of the dream he had.

However, he insisted that the effort was in vain, saying he instead thanks God that he took up the challenge and became a barrier breaker. 

“Four years later, when the mantra became ‘Anything but Jonathan’, the same church leaders who had said it was inconceivable for a pastor to participate in politics, especially in alignment with a perceived Islamic fundamentalist, ate their words and threw their weight behind the same Muhammadu Buhari, with my brother, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, as running mate,” he continued.

“I am also aware that, in 2015, the press, represented by the likes of Dele Momodu, played a role in redefining the narrative and presenting to the Nigerian public a Buhari they could relate to. That year, in addition to other things I did in the background to ensure that the will of the people counted irrespective of the outcome, I recall telling the nation of ‘The Buhari I Know’ just to ensure he was given a fair chance untainted by a negative brand image.

“Now, three years later, it appears, once again, that the people are experiencing buyer’s remorse. Interestingly, the likes of Dele Momodu and I are being blamed for allegedly packaging the current dispensation. It is, however, necessary to remind the nation that there were warnings. We had warned then that plunging headlong into another election cycle without addressing what I called the fundamentals was tantamount to putting the cart before the horse; but when the nation was adamant and wanted its way, like the prophet Samuel did when Israel demanded a king against divine counsel, we played our part to ensure that the interest of Nigeria was kept paramount. 

“I am glad that neither the disappointments of the 2011 elections, nor the stiff-necked response of those in power to his propositions and warnings, have been strong enough to deter Dele Momodu in his steadfast service to the nation from his power slot as a media icon. Instead, he has intensified his contributions just so Nigeria can rise to her potential as a great nation regardless of who is in government. It is that dogged belief in the Nigerian dream that has brought us here today, at a time when the countdown clock to elections reads 219 days but the Nigerian dream is yet asleep and her structural defects glaringly acute.”

Bakare also reserved some special praise for Momodu, saying: “The writings of Dele Momodu have, over the years, addressed some of the fundamental issues facing our nation. 

“I am confident that he, as well as other opinion moulders, will intensify efforts to ensure that the welfare and security of our people, as well as the overall development of our nation, become the main discourse at this pivotal moment. This is the purpose of any government worthy of the name.”

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