By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
Today, November 11, the man in whom I’m mostly well pleased, clocks 65… this is my undisguised “wa-wu” to a genuine child of God, a benevolent puritan, and a superb humanist.
Yes, people who see Bakare as a “noise-maker” or “rabble-rouser” may have a point. He does cause trouble with his statements… and more often than not rabbles are roused on account of his diatribes. The point to linger on is not what he does, but why he does those things.
In private discussions, as I sought to probe the spine of his position on this issue…with a mischievous twist of his lips, he would labour to give words to the cascading thoughts in his heart – his glowing face reveals a man thoroughly at peace with the severity of his public statements.
Well, 20 years may not be long enough to write a profound character guide on a person, but I can state categorically that he writes down, dwells over, bounces off people, almost all his so-called controversial statements… He does not use the old and tested lacuna: “touch not my anointed…” in escaping troubling issues and scenarios when he is called to account. Bakare would over-prepare for contestation of ideas and understanding of the Word – whether the challenge comes from a peer or neophyte.
Oh, he does have a temper. Is there a man without blemish? Excuse it the way you want, he can be a bolt of fire against the devil in one instance; and if an associate, his child or acquaintance steps over or pulls down what ought to be carefully arranged or garnished – the tongue of correction comes sharp and long…touching the recesses of your inadequacy, purging you almost instantly of any dreg of incompetence.
Like Apostle Paul, Bakare’s teachings are hard: in the pursuit of happiness and prosperity, “live holy, depend completely on God, repay evil with good, and do unto others much better than they to you”. He not only lives what he preaches, he challenges others to call him out on his convictions.
He is bemused when people find it almost impossible to differentiate between principles (issues he vehemently attacks) and relationships (usually committed by his friends and older associates in faith). He is hurt when hare-brained policies and exertions of governmental powers deliver more hardship on ordinary folks – and he explodes where most leaders merely grumble and vacillate in soporific acquiescence.
He is undaunted and unembarrassed when no one believes or even regards what he says God has shown him in visions or dreams – he simply pivots ahead using same as launch pads to more declarations. A strong man!
Bakare lives his life in the open (a rare condition in this climate) – the hunger to share and teach makes him tell it all. He plants his own stories, warts and all, in all his public narratives as he criss-crosses the world teaching and preaching (often, to the chagrin of his wife and children). While most of us will repent of our mis-steps and keep it quiet between us and God; not Bakare. After repenting, the man will “call” the “whole world” to confess his mishaps. And somehow drawing out a lesson or two why no one else should have any excuse for falling into same.
As Gbolahan Babatunde Bakare marks his 65th birthday today, with millions of his silent admirers (and of course, millions of the “others”), the constant swell of goodwill is that he will live long to give of himself to his God and his country – with calm boldness, profound power and enduring grace… such that if the Lord arrives and asks if there is any trusted and courageous ‘errand-boy’ ready for Him to use – Layide’s husband may confidently step forward and say: “Here am I, send me!”
Happy birthday, Pastor B!
(Read the full Tribute, by God’s grace, in next COUNTERPOINT, ThisDay on Saturday)