Mixed reactions yesterday trailed the call by the senior pastor and founder of Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos, Pastor Tunde Bakare, on President Muhammadu Buhari to pick his successor in 2023.
In his year 2020 state of the nation address, titled: “Unveiling the True Enemies of Nigeria”, which he gave at the church headquarters in Ogba, Lagos on Sunday, Bakare appealed to Nigerians to come together to build a strong country.
But in separate interviews with LEADERSHIP, prominent Nigerians, ethnic nationalities’ groups and political parties, took different positions on the clergyman’s admonition on Buhari to singlehandedly pick his successor.
They, however, agreed that the timing of the cleric’s call was wrong and could distract the president from concentrating on the enormous tasks ahead of him.
To the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Bakare totally missed the point in advising Buhari to handpick his successor in 2023 when as a lawyer he knew that such provision does not exist in the Nigerian constitution.
PANDEF national publicity secretary, High Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, said it was wrong for the priest to give such advice to the president.
Sara-Igbe, who insisted that even the president lack the powers to pick his successor, said that it is the duty of the political parties to choose their presidential candidates from who Nigerians will pick their choice through the ballot paper.
He said: „It was wrong for Pastor Tunde Bakare to give such advice to President Buhari. Pastor Tunde Bakare is not being sincere. Even President Buhari knows that he does not have such powers to pick his successor. We are in a democracy for goodness sake and we have political parties which duty it is to pick presidential candidates and present to Nigerians at election.“
Sara-Igbe stated that it was the turn of the South-South geopolitical zone to produce the president in 2023, claiming that the entire North, the Southwest and the Southeast zones cannot change that.
The PANDEF spokesman said: „The South-South geopolitical zone wants the presidency in 2023 and even the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo cannot change that.“
In his comment, the leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said that “as far as I am concern President Muhammadu Buhari has not gotten any good record for him to be in a position to choose a successor for Nigeria, what record has he achieved for Nigeria’s democracy.
‘’Pastor Tunde Bakare made a mistake there, every other thing he said were alright but this one was wrong. What legacy is Buhari going to leave? Is it a legacy of dictatorship, legacy of not obeying court orders, legacy of tribalism, and legacy of chauvinism? He has no record to choose a successor for Nigeria,’’ he said.
Buhari Won’t Manipulate Process – Presidency
But, the presidency, in a swift reaction, stated that President Buhari would not manipulate the process that would lead to the emergence of his successor in 2023.
The president’s special adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, who was guest of Channels Television’s “Politics Today”, said last night that Buhari would not handover to those who would take the country back and erased the successes of his administration on the fight against corruption.
Adesina said that like anyone in position of authority, Buhari has his exit plan.
He said: “By May 2023 God willing he would have finished his second term as president, he would not have stood for another term and he will be exiting. So, he has that at the back of his mind. Pastor Bakare said he should be interested in who succeeds him; yes I’m sure the president will be interested in who succeeds him, but he will not manipulate the process to pick a successor.
“The president will not pick a successor we know him, he is not somebody like that. Will he be interested in the process? Yes he will. He will ensure that there is a free, fair and credible election; that nobody will come to use money and resources to bamboozle his way into the leadership of the country. It will not happen. The president will ensure free, fair and credible process but to hand pick a successor? No, he will not do that.”
On if President Buhari would listen to the advice by his friend, Pastor Bakare, Adesina said: “The president will ensure that Nigeria is in safe hands. There is no point having worked, having made gains, having made advances since 2015-2023, to hand Nigeria over to those who will take her back or hand Nigeria over to looters once again or you allow looters to allow stolen funds to work for them to seize power. No, that will not happen.
“The president will be interested that much in who succeeds him but he is not going to impose anybody. Rather, he is going to create a free and fair process and Nigerians are then going to determine who the next president should be,” he stated.
On Bakare’s allegation that the enemies of the nation are in the three tiers of government and arrogating state resources for personal use, the presidential spokesman said that “well, the president respects the principles of federalism. There are certain things that the president will not dabble into but whatever role that the law allows him to look into that, sure he will do. The anti-corruption agencies are empowered to look at things happening in the states and they will. But the president interfering or intervening directly where the law does not permit him, no he will not.”
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said that “the responsibility of picking a successor to Buhari is that of his party, the APC. More so, President Buhari has just commenced his second tenure to deliver good governance to Nigerians who elected him.
According to ACF national publicity secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, “Pastor Bakari‘s advice to the president at this material time in our candid opinion is self-serving and a distraction.
“ACF had in its New Year message advised politicians at all levels of government to concentrate on good governance rather than overheating the polity with the elections of 2023,” he said.
It’s Too Early To Discuss 2023 – Northern Groups
Also, the spokesperson of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said that “at the CNG, we feel it‘s too early to discuss 2023 which is why we‘re rather concentrating on matters that directly impact on the lives of northerners, particularly the youths.
He said: “All the same, Pastor Bakare‘s visit to Buhari is quite suspicious in itself. Perhaps he is hoping to make good the vision he said he saw in a dream that he has become Nigeria‘s president after Buhari. Well, a dream is just a dream and it ends there.
“It is quite unfortunate for Bakare to ask Buhari to anoint a successor at this stage after all the things he had said about the president in the past. The development must have everything to do with the plan to emasculate former Lagos State governor and All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“This is a very wrong move because by 2023, Nigerians would have been mobilised enough to insist on a major paradigm shift; a generational change of power. All these people have been around too long to the point they think they own Nigeria, they think they own all of us.
“We have already gone far with the mobilisation for this new political order. Second, Bakare ought to have known that Buhari may not have the wherewithal to influence anything by 2023.
“Already the president‘s primary constituency, which is the North, is no longer disposed to supporting him blindly as it did in the past. The North has certainly not gotten a fair deal from Buhari in terms of fairness in the distribution of resources, in terms of distribution of projects and even appointments.
“We can see that verifiably, the North remains the poorest region in every respect despite the promises made by Buhari and his handlers. These and many other factors make it funny for any politician to think that Buhari can swing voter support in his favour in 2023. And this includes Bakare and his dream,“ Suleiman said.
Bakare’s Comment Uncalled For – Ohanaeze
The spokesman of apex Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chuks Ibegbu, said that it is uncalled for Bakare to call on Buhari to pick his successor at this point in time.
He said that “our problem now is not who succeeds President Muhamadu Buhari.”
Ibegbu wondered why some Nigerians should be talking about who should succeed the president despite the killing of the citizens across the country.
He queried: “What has Buhari’s successor got to do with the suffering in the country? The call is untimely; Buhari’s successor is not our problem. It will be collective decision when the time comes. Nigerians will decide who their president should be.
We Don’t Speak For PMB, Says APC
In its reaction, the ruling APC said that it does not speak for President Buhari.
The APC national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, told LEADERSHIP in telephone chat that he does not believe in the interpretation being given to the clergyman‘s statement.
He said: “I do not speak for the president because that is the work of his media adviser, Garba Shehu. However, I don‘t see your interpretation as what Pastor Bakare said.“
On its part, the Presidential Support Committee (PSC) disagreed with those contending that Buhari cannot choose his successor, saying that the president is the appropriate person to groom and pick a reliable Nigerian to continue from where he stops
The director of communication and strategic planning of the PSC, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, told LEADERSHIP last night that Bakare was not wrong after all because as far as there is continuity in government, it is only Buhari who knows the best person to carry on with his legacies in government.
Ibrahim said: “We have always insisted on continuity in government. A successive government is expected to carry on with what its predecessor has put on ground in terms of infrastructure and other projects. This entails that the man who occupies the office knows best who the cap fits having groomed a successor who continue with his constructive policies.”
But a veteran journalist and community leader, Prince Ibrahim Kilani, has described as undemocratic and ungodly the call on Buhari to pick his successor ahead of the 2023 elections.
Kilani, who is also the national organising secretary of the Ansar-ud-Society of Nigeria (ADS), said that
“it‘s undemocratic and ungodly for anybody to say such a thing.”
He said that the masses of the country should be allowed to elect their preferred candidate to emerge through electoral process.
Kilani said: „They should allow the masses to select the president’s successor. To me, 2023 is still too long to talk about because it amounts to heating up the polity.“
In the same vein, the national president of the Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA), Olalekan Hammed, said that Pastor Bakare‘s advice was not really necessary and add no flavour to his ambition.
He said that it was a cultural attitude of all leaders in the world to influence who would be their successors, only some of them pretend to be neutral.
“Although, the issue of anointing someone to hand over to is usually done by leaders collaboratively with their cabal, Pastor Bakare does not need to parade himself as a saint for him to be chosen.
“Telling Buhari that, there is a risk if he did not plan and determine who his successor would be. And a looter might succeed him is needless talk. Being a pastor doesn‘t necessarily mean you are not corrupt or confirmed you as someone who can be entrusted with power. He has never served politically in any capacity.
“That‘s to tell you he had no pedigree when we talk of holding political offices. Although, we had had people like Abraham Lincoln who did not even serve as council chairman but became American president after a series of attempt and performed excellently well. He might be one,“ Hammed said.
Besides, he said that the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also eyeing the position had been tagged as being fantastically corrupt but he has an outstanding record as a former governor of Lagos State.
“He‘s overwhelmed with experience. Anybody can show interest in the 2023 presidential race, what we are after is that, since the late Umar Yar‘dua had done it, former President Goodluck Jonathan who represented Biafra (Ijaw/Igbo) people had also done it after which Mr Buhari a representative of Northern Nigeria took over, it is the Yoruba’s turn to govern the country.
“What we need is to appeal to other ethnic groups to give us (Yoruba) the needed support to ensure that our man becomes Nigeria’s president God willing in 2023,“ he added.
The acting national chairperson of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Comrade Abiodun Bamigboye and the secretary, Chinedu Bosah, said that neither Buhari nor his party has the right to determine his successor but the Nigerian people.
SPN, therefore, demanded a democratic electoral system, adding that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that should be constituted by the elected representatives of the people.
The party rejected Bakare’s appeal to Buhari to choose his successor. “To us in SPN, we believe that Nigeria is a collective patrimony and the question of who presides over it can never be unilaterally decided and determined by an individual as wrongly claimed by Bakare.
“Therefore, the right and the power to determine who will be the Buhari’s successor should be that of the Nigerian working people neither that of the president nor his political parties,“ SPN said.
However, SPN equally recognized that at the present moment such a power and right by the people to independently determine who presides over the affairs of the country was unfortunately limited.
This, it said, was largely due to the undemocratic nature of the electoral system in the country.