Road map to successful change

Tunde Bakare

Tunde Bakare
Scriptural Text

Isaiah 43:18&19 (NKJV)
18 “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
FELLOW citizens of our great country, let me begin this annual State of the Nation broadcast with a preamble in the hope that mischief makers will give us the benefit of the doubt that we truly do what we do for two compelling reasons: love of God and love of country.
Many of you here today are living witnesses of what we went through, by the grace of God, after we placed an embargo in the spirit on the 2015 presidential election slated for February 14 to avert a bloodbath and national disintegration.
We all stood here in agonising corporate intercessions with fasting for fourteen days and nights from Sunday, February 1 to Saturday, February 14, 2015, to dismantle all the negative and counterproductive power blocs hindering the manifestation of a New Nigeria. We kept on pushing in the spirit until our political euroclydon was averted and a successful transition took place.
Those who neither saw what we saw nor heard what we heard thereafter began to disseminate ill – motivated rumours, concluding in confidential whispers to those who lent them their ears that we had joined forces with the opposition. May the good Lord in due season reward every true or pretentious stakeholder as his or her works had been, or shall be, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Let me for the sake of posterity state clearly here that I am not an agent of any individual and, up till today, whatever I have done for any government, past or present, publicly or behind the scenes, I have done pro bono.
I recall with gratitude to God a conversation between Dr. Andrew Pocock, now Sir Andrew, the then British High Commissioner to Nigeria who was still in active service during the 2015 elections. After going up and down like a pendulum between the incoming and outgoing presidents, with stopovers at the residence of the British High Commissioner, he asked me a question: “What exactly do you want out of all these near impossible interventions?” I told him the story of how in 1994, while in the UK, my family applied for British passports for my wife and five children.
Within the stipulated time, without a need to contact or visit any ‘connections’ at the British Passport Office, the passports arrived at our doorstep through the post. I then said to Dr. Pocock that I would like to see a nation that works like that in my lifetime and I am prepared to work alongside other patriots to make that happen. In correspondence following the elections, he noted with much appreciation my contributions to brokering peace and reconciliation behind-the-scenes. I seek no further reward or commendation than this. I believe God that I will see a nation that works in my lifetime.
Now, to those who are muttering and whispering untrue stories about us behind the scenes while laughing with us in public, our conviction is tamper-proof:
God will not forsake the righteous (Joshua 31:8; Psalm 37:25);
He will not justify the wicked (Exodus 23:7);
The righteousness of a righteous man will answer for him in times to come (Genesis 30:25-33);
And the wickedness of the wicked will pour upon his own head (Ezekiel 18:20).
And those in positions of authority who may believe or entertain their lies, I leave such with the words of Prophet Jonah: “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy”. (Jonah 2:8; KJV) As for me, regardless of how I am perceived, I will continue to contribute my quota, as long as I breathe, to building an enduring and progressive nation. I hope the audience will pardon my long preamble. Now, to the theme of our State of the Nation broadcast:
Road map to successful change
The buzzword in our nation today is “change”. It was perhaps the key word and message that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power as he campaigned all over the country on APC’s platform.
Now that the election is over, it is incumbent upon us all, citizens and government, to do all in our collective power to ensure that we are not short-changed by the change we so desired and voted for. Therefore, to ensure we are on the same page regarding how we define change, I have chosen a text of Scripture by Apostle Paul who definitely knew about change. He wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and from the depth of his personal transformative experience from Saul to Paul, in II Corinthians 3:18 (KJV):
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
The Greek word translated “changed” is metamorphoumetha, from which we get the word metamorphosis. Metamorphosis describes the process by which tadpoles lose their tails, grow legs, and become frogs; it is also the course through which caterpillars become butterflies. Metamorphosis involves changing into another form.
President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari
Fellow Nigerians, we cannot rearrange the old and label it the new – that is an exercise in self-deception or delusion. The tadpole has to be willing to change if it is going to become a frog. The caterpillar must be willing to give up being what it has always been, spin a cocoon around itself, and wait until it is fashioned into a butterfly. In like manner, We the People, and those we put in power to serve our collective interests, must be willing to die to our inglorious past. We must expect and accept a clearly defined pathway to what we collectively desire to become. We must turn our backs on what used to be if we are ever to become something new. That is the secret to successful change. To settle for less that this is to short-change ourselves.
Let me state clearly here that I firmly believe that change is possible. And, much more, I am fully persuaded that Nigeria can and will change for the better. My strong persuasion is based on the Word of God revealed to me in January 1996 as I was praying in Jerusalem during a conference. This revelation is contained in the Book of Zephaniah detailing the wickedness of Jerusalem just like we are today and the turnaround brought about by God Almighty.
First, the wickedness:
Zephaniah 3:1-5 (NKJV):
1.Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city! 2. She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the LORD, she has not drawn near to her God. 3. Her princes in her midst are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave not a bone till morning. 4. Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people; her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. 5. The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.
Then, the turnaround:
Zephaniah 3:9-13 & 18-20 (NKJV):
9. “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, My worshipers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering. 11 In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds in which you transgress against Me; for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain. 12I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. 13The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.”
Zephaniah 3:18-20:
18 “I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly,
who are among you, to whom its reproach is a burden. 19 Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame. 20 At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes,” Says the LORD.
I pray the Father that this will be our portion, in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen. Some of you will recall that, after that encounter, I returned to Nigeria to preach the message “From Shame to Fame because of His Name”. Nevertheless for that to happen, we all have to start acting differently at all levels: individual, organisational and societal. For this to happen a crystal clear direction must be provided by leadership at all levels: parents, teachers, CEOs, religious leaders and especially leaders in government.
What do we need to change?
i. We need to change our way of thinking and then doing. Only transformed people can transform nations. Difficult as it may seem, National Transformation is not rocket science. Even if it is, rocket scientists are not aliens from another planet – they are human beings like you and me. I will share further thoughts on this shortly;
ii. We need to change our governance structure. The present system is severely wasteful. Left as is, it will continue to generate as well as perpetuate a syndicate of scams and profligacy at all levels of government;
iii. We need to change our Grundnorm by creating a true federal system of government while making the welfare and security of our people the raison d’ĂȘtre of government;
iv. We need to change our cash and carry judicial and legislative systems.
Thus, in order to obtain the new, we must release a decaying system that has arrested our development and growth as well as created a very wide gulf between the opportunistic elitist rich and unfortunate poor among our citizens. After all, the resources of the nation belong to all the citizens as clearly stated in:
Ecclesiastes 5:8 &9 (NKJV):
8, If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them. 9 Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field.
That being so, and in order to correct this abnormality, we must critically assess and evaluate our journey so far before adopting our new Road Map to Successful Change. I have chosen a parable for this critical evaluation.
The parable of the great mansion
A great mansion had a large and beautifully decorated banquet hall. Adjoining the hall were three large kitchens, each with a large storeroom. Each kitchen was unique and servants served various kinds of food and drink to the people in the hall. The banquet hall was filled with people eating, drinking, dancing and rejoicing.
Suddenly, the security guards invaded the mansion, killed some servants, drove the rest out of the banquet hall, settled on the food, ate all they could, and carted some away. Then they broke down the great mansion and, with time, built another edifice. The new edifice had a large banquet hall and six large kitchens, though not as large as the initial three. Each kitchen had a number of storerooms. In all, there were a total of thirty-six storerooms in the edifice. The security guards hired a new set of servants to manage the edifice and handed the bunch containing all the keys to the servants.
Thereafter, they relinquished control and returned to their duty posts. People came into the banquet hall to celebrate once again.
This time, however, food and drinks were supplied only from one of the kitchens as the security guards had opened just one kitchen and left the others locked as they handed the keys over to the servants. In addition, the servants helped themselves to much of the food and drink and served only the leftovers. In no time, there was severe shortage and the people began to complain. Then those who dwelt in the new edifice, believing that their main problem was the theft of food by the dishonest servants, gave control to one among them, formerly a security officer, revered for his integrity and forthrightness. This was followed by much jubilation. However, the food shortage situation intensified and celebration was soon replaced by murmuring, grumbling and commotion, leaving the servants wondering what to do next.
Fellow Nigerians, welcome to the year 2016. In the course of this address, I shall shortly unravel the parable of the mansion, which is the parable of Nigeria. But, at this juncture, let us review 2015 as we take a critical look at the state of the nation.
2015 in review
At the turn of the year 2015, in the wake of the centenary celebrations, and ahead of the general elections, the destiny of Nigeria hung in the balance. Never before, since the Civil War, has the pre-election atmosphere in our country been as tense and intense as it was between January and March 2015. As fears of post-election crises engulfed the nation, observers of the Nigerian political space, including the intelligence community, warned of the looming dangers.
At the beginning of last year, precisely on January 4 and 11, in a two-part series of State of the Nation addresses that caused tremors in the Nigerian political landscape, we warned of the “Gathering Storms and Avoidable Shipwreck” and gave the nation valuable counsel on “How to Avoid Catastrophic Euroclydon”. We advised the nation to postpone the elections and allow for a transitional period of restructuring. Expectedly, our position was severely mocked and our recommendations rebuffed when some mischievously opined that we were calling for an interim government.
Nevertheless, undeterred by the flood of criticism that accompanied our position and recommendations, right here on this platform, as earlier said, I placed an embargo on the elections. Then, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we embarked on a two-week fast to intercede for a nation that was hell-bent on its own course. Just before the conclusion of that season of intercession, the nation was face-to-face with some of the realities highlighted in our position. The electoral umpire made a volte-face and postponed the elections .
When it became clear that the nation had chosen its course, much like Israel’s rejection of divine counsel and insistent demand for a king, we stepped into the terrain to mediate between belligerent parties and to mitigate election risks. Time will fail me to tell further details of my behind-the-scenes engagement with the stakeholders ahead of the elections and how, by a whisker, our nation narrowly escaped the jaws of disintegration. Nevertheless, you will recall that as I lifted the prophetic embargo on elections on Sunday March 22, 2015, I sent out a warning:
“If anyone thinks PDP’s loss is going to be APC’s gain, he or she should think twice, for after the polls APC’s pain may be PDP’s gain.”
It turned out that, whereas the PDP lost to the APC in the general elections, bringing an end to sixteen years of misgovernance, the PDP brought pain on the APC in elections into the key offices of the National Assembly – an injury the APC is still trying to recover from. Fellow Nigerians, the lesson in all of these is to never despise prophecy.
The state of the nation: A panoramic view
We live in what may be described as trying times for our nation. President Muhammadu Buhari raised the alarm at his inauguration on May 29, 2015 when he noted that, “with depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts the Nigerian economy is in deep trouble…” He became even more direct on the state of the economy when he declared in October 2015, at the Africa-India Summit in New Delhi, India, that the country was broke and struggling to pay salaries. That declaration was severely criticized in various quarters and especially by the PDP .
However, an unbiased assessment of the economy based on major indicators paints a truly gloomy picture – from the 64 per cent drop in year-on-year GDP annual growth rate as at July 2015, to the 2.354 trillion naira plunge in market capitalization as at December 2015 ; from the 66 billion dollar debt burden as at October 2015 , to the 12.63 per cent decline in foreign reserves between December 2014 and November 2015 ; from the 48 per cent crash in oil prices between December 2014 and December 2015 , to the 67 per cent corresponding fall in crude revenue between September 2014 and July 2015 . When these alarming economic indicators, together with the massive expenditure requirements, such as the 10 trillion naira annual infrastructure spending needs, are viewed against the backdrop of the reported lootings during previous administrations , one may start to understand the concerns of the president.
In addition to the economic challenges, the social indicators reveal that Nigerians generally live in less than adequate conditions with the latest Human Development Index (HDI) report, which is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education and income indices, placing Nigeria 153rd out of 188 countries.
Apart from the raging battle with insurgency in the North East, the political landscape has been marred by increasingly hostile clamours for self-determination as seen in pro-Biafra agitations in the South-East , sectarian violence in the North Central , tension in the North-West in relation to the sectarian activities of the Shiite Islamic sect , the increasing perception by the Southern intelligentsia of sectional bias by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari , and signs of resumption of violent agitation by militants in the South-South.
• The present 36 states of our “federation”
In June 2015, barely two weeks into the current administration, we woke up to the alarming news that some states were unable to pay salaries, with at least one state owing 11 months in arrears. These states ran to the federal government which then arranged a special intervention fund for 27 states. On the heels of this development, the state governors have further disclosed the inability of their respective states to meet their minimum wage obligations. This underscores the non-viability of most of the 36 states, corroborating a 2013 report that only 4 states of the federation show signs of viability based on internal revenue generation.
• Unravelling the parable of the great mansion
The parable of the mansion is about the journey of our nation from abundance to the current economic downturn. The mansion is the Nigerian state. The banquet hall is the Nigerian economy. At Independence, Nigeria had 3 regions, each of them a significant economic powerhouse. These are the kitchens and storerooms. The kitchens represent the productive base of the respective regions at that time while the storerooms represent their latent resources. Just as each kitchen in the mansion served its unique menu to the banquet hall, each region made its unique contribution to the Nigerian economy. The Northern Region contributed to the centre through groundnut, cotton, and hides and skin production. The Eastern Region contributed to the national economy through oil palm and rubber production, while the Western Region contributed mainly through cocoa production. The result was prosperity for Nigeria, represented by the eating, drinking and rejoicing in the banquet hall.
The first set of servants who served in the mansion represents the first set of Nigerian leaders – the Nnamdi Azikiwes, the Obafemi Awolowos, the Ahmadu Bellos and the Tafawa Balewas who demonstrated selfless service. However, just as the security guards took over the house, the military took over government and killed some of our leaders through a coup. Just as the security guards pulled down the mansion, so the military dismantled the regional structure of the nation and laid our thriving Federal System in the vault of their Unitary System while largely enriching themselves through corruption. However, during the interregnum, the military took the nation through a series of geopolitical experiments until thirty-six states were created and the nation was subsequently delineated along six geopolitical zones. These are the six kitchens in the new edifice put together by the security guards. As each kitchen had its storerooms, so does each zone have its states – thirty-six altogether.
The military handed power back to the politicians in 1999 just as the security guards handed the bunch of keys over to the subsequent set of hired servants. But just as only one kitchen and storehouse was open and active while the others were left shut, in like manner, the military and their successor politicians have focused on petroleum from the South-South as the main revenue source for the nation, neglecting the diverse resources spread across the six geopolitical zones.
Besides, like the servants in the parable, Nigerian politicians, in the last sixteen years, enriched themselves with the nation’s oil wealth and fed crumbs to the Nigerian people, resulting in shortage and causing them to groan. However, the Nigerian people, believing that corruption is the major problem of our land, have elected one whom we believe is the embodiment of anti-corruption – President Muhammadu Buhari. Nevertheless, few months into his administration, the groaning has intensified and now there seems to be a lot of confusion as to the way forward for Nigeria. In the words of Polybius, the Greek historian: “Those who know how to win are much more numerous than those who know how to make proper use of their victories”.
Fellow Nigerians, the way forward is what this address is all about. But first, let us identify what I call beacons of hope – encouraging signs of progress in spite of the social, economic and political upheavals.
• Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare is the founder of Latter Rain Assembly, End-Time Church

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