Bakare: Emefiele’s Case Signals War against Corruption is Clampdown on Political Opponents 

·      Says Nigeria regressing forcefully to bottom on Tinubu’s watch

Dike Onwuamaeze

The Serving Overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church (CGCC), Pastor Tunde Bakare, yesterday, described the ordeal of the suspended Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in the hands of the Department of State Services (DSS) as nothing but President Bola Tinubu’s political vendetta. Bakare said Emefiele should not be made a scapegoat. 

Bakare also warned that Nigeria was regressing forcefully “in a frantic race to the bottom” on Tinubu’s watch.

He spoke during his State of the Nation broadcast, with the theme, “Vice, Virtue and Time: The Three Things That Never Stand Still.”

Bakare described Tinubu’s presidential style as “leadership by impulse”.

He said the outcome of the last presidential poll was a testament to the rejection of All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Nigerian people.     

The socio-political change advocate also stated that the handling of Emefiele’s case had sparked discussions regarding the need for due process and equitable application of justice.

He said considering the reported claims by the DSS that its actions were in line with “an order from above” the “handling of the Emefiele case has sent a signal to the world that the current president’s disposition to the war against corruption is primarily motivated by a clampdown on perceived political adversaries while various other enemies of Nigeria remain untouched”.

Bakare said Emefiele should not “be made a scapegoat. There is every possibility that the erstwhile CBN’s governor did not act without presidential authorisation. If Emefiele is found liable for any crime, by all means, he should be prosecuted.

“However, considering the dynamics of the pre-election environment, and that the then presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu’s public allegation that the naira redesign policy was targeted at him, the optic of the president targeting Emefiele for prosecution after winning the election and being sworn in as president could be interpreted as a form of vendetta far beneath such a distinguished office.”

Bakare recalled that he had warned earlier that the politics of entitlement, the “emi lo kan” type of politics, “would breed an imperial presidency, one that will slide towards dictatorship and will be intolerant of dissent”.

The CGCC pastor added, “It is rather preposterous that the DSS has reduced itself to a pack of Napoleon’s dogs let loose on perceived opponents of the president, when, in this same country, a militant like Asari Dokubo is openly breeding an armed militia in open support of the president, doing so with impunity and without as much as a slap on the wrist from the security agencies.”

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Bakare, who contested in presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and lost to Tinubu, said, “Fellow Nigerians, time is far spent on our journey to nationhood and it is abundantly clear that instead of advancing forcefully in the right direction, we are regressing forcefully in a frantic race to the bottom; there is simply no middle ground.”

He said the broadcast was to show the way out of Nigeria’s present national dilemma with the hope that the stakeholders of APC would “listen attentively and take this address as a wake-up call, laden with truths that could salvage a ship drifting in the gale of a socioeconomic and political Euroclydon”.

He added that he was perturbed by the needless suffering of Nigerians that had been normalised and perpetuated by bad governance and irresponsible public policy.

Bakare also condemned what he called the thoughtless removal of petrol subsidy and placing military option before diplomacy in managing the military’s takeover in Niger Republic as cases of Tinubu’s leadership by impulse, which he argued had unwittingly plunged Nigeria into chaos.

“It is in the best interest of the nation for Mr. President to consider intended and unintended consequences before committing to a course of action,” Bakare said.

He said Tinubu’s leadership by impulse also caused ECOWAS to put military invasion on the table from the very start before subsequently exploring diplomatic options with the coup plotters in the Republic of Niger. “President Tinubu once again put the cart before the horse, thus, placing Nigeria and the sub-region in a precarious situation,” he said.

Bakare urged Tinubu to kill corruption if he truly wanted the poor to breathe.

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.”

According to Bakare, “You can decide today to take the burden of reforms off the Nigerian people and go after the corporations and individuals who have plundered our nation. You can decide today to stand with the poor and take the fight to the plunderers.

“Nigerians are asking why the poor have to suffer for the criminal activities of these individuals and companies.

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“Even as the government attempts an economic reform agenda, we must realise as a nation that no economy can thrive on criminal impunity. There can be no successful economic reforms without economic justice.

“Economic justice includes placing the cost of reforms on those who caused the problems in the first place, rather than on the people.

“Without economic justice, the attempts to sanitise the sector, including the Petroleum Industry Act, the abrupt subsidy removal, the exchange rate harmonisation policy, and the announcement of palliatives will all amount to papering over the cracks of a broken-down wall while the foundation is fast caving in.”

He also told Tinubu, “A government that asked the poor to tighten their belts could not afford a bloated waistline. By nominating 48 ministers, the president is about to set a record for the highest number of ministers since 1999.

“This is not the kind of record expected of a supposed reform minded government. It is hypocritical for a government that has subjected Nigerians to untold hardship by adopting neoliberal policy prescriptions to then turn around and expand the size of government, thereby violating a core aspect of the same neoliberal principles.” 

Bakare said the result of the 2023 presidential election showed that majority of Nigerians had already rejected APC. He stated that but for the crisis within the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which led to the emergence of the Obidient movement, PDP could have easily won the election.

Bakare stated, “The results of the last elections were a clear indication that Nigerians are fed up with what the APC has become. According to the results released by INEC, in the presidential elections, APC had 15.4 million votes in 2015 and 15.2 million votes in 2019, but by the 2023 elections, the APC’s support base had declined significantly to 8.8 million, with a loss of almost half of the traditional support base. If it were not for the divisions within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the emergence of the Obidient movement of Labour Party (LP) that split the traditional support base of the PDP, the APC would have convincingly lost the 2023 elections.

“Even now, the party’s victory, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is being challenged in court. When I consider the vision and founding spirit that birthed the APC, I cannot but conclude that the APC is losing the plot.”

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