I did not know him closely before 2011. I had always seen him as an iconic, fiery preacher of righteousness. But in 2010, he stepped down from the pulpit and joined partisan politics. On the invitation of General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), he became the Vice presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) for the April 16, 2011 presidential elections. I was elected the National Publicity Secretary of CPC on 6th January, 2011 at the Party’s convention at Eagle Square, Abuja. My opponent, Ms Doyin Ogunbiyi, was the favourite of the SW chairmen. Whilst CPC was still undecided about zoning, I purchased my nomination form and submitted. On the day of the election, the chairman of the SW chairmen told me to step down. I refused. I told him that their candidate should meet me on the field. That was indeed a statement of faith. It implied that the six SW states (one-sixth of Nigeria) would vote overwhelmingly for my opponent. But I stood on a belief that, If God truly wanted me in that position, the remaining 30 states (five-sixth of Nigeria) could vote for me and give me victory. That was exactly what happened! The votes of the remaining five geopolitical zones gave me victory. The SW chairmen were stunned. I dared them and defeated them. So, the intrigues to have me removed began. First, they said I was not a member of the Party. My local government chairperson, Mrs Lucy Ajayi, quickly debunked it. She told the inquirers, “I gave him his membership card.”Then, at the Board of Trustees (BoT) level, Pastor Tunde Bakare was authorised to have audience with me. He fixed the meeting in his private office in Ikeja GRA. In the presence of late Yinka Odumakin, I told my story. Then, I threw a challenge: ” If my opponent’s nomination form predated mine, i would resign.”Pastor Bakare told me he was satisfied with my explanation. I left with the impression that, here’s is a man with a sense justice. It did not matter to him that my opponent was his friend and sister, he was still interested in Justice.I remember that sometime in late 2010, Revd Segun Oshinaga had invited me to lunch at the Latter Rain Church, Ogba Lagos. As the 2011 presidential election approached, there was pressure to have a handshake with the SW.Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) under the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu controlled the voting pattern in SW.Eventually, a meeting between CPC and ACN was brokered by those you may call the ‘owners of Nigeria’.The proposed deliverables for the project was for ACN to adopt PMB as its presidential candidate and thereby harvest the SW votes. The ACN leaders came with their requirement before the deal could be sealed. They requested Pastor Tunde Bakare to resign, dated three days after supposed inauguration as Vice President of Nigeria. Pastor Bakare was not at the meeting but was allowed a representative. When Pastor Bakare was informed about the demand, he refused and opted to resign as Vice presidential candidate. As a Lawyer, he reasoned that it would be sheer perjury to claim to be Vice President of Nigeria when he was not. A lot of pressure was mounted on Pastor Bakare to accede to that request. I remember one day as I sauntered into the office of the CPC’s National Chairman, late Prince Tony Momoh, he asked me, “have you spoken to Pastor?””Which Pastor?” I retorted.”Pastor Bakare!” He countered.How Pastor Bakare was able to stand resolutely on what he believed was right, regardless the buffeting opposition, really amazed me!I went to all the campaign tours with him and his principal, GMB.The presidential election in 2011 was decided in favour of Dr Goodluck Jonathan. GMB felt there were irregularities in the election; he went to the elections petition tribunal.Mr. Şofunde, SAN led other lawyers to argue CPC’s petition. The defense comprised on Chief Awomolo, SAN (INEC), Chief Olanipekun, SAN (Dr Jonathan), Professor Ikpeazu, SAN(PDP).On the first day, there was litany of frivolous motions from the defence counsel, specifically meant to frustrate the petition of CPC. Honourable Justice Ayo Salami – being the chairman of the five-man judicial panel – saw through the chicanery and ordered all the parties to agree on what INEC needed to supply CPC for the smooth sail of its petition. The day following, all the counsel came back to court with a 12-paragraph agreement; this was promptly accepted and became an order of court.Afterwards, the conduct of INEC showed unwillingness to comply qith this order of the court. With the benefit of a very experienced counsel, CPC continued to take notice of the prevarications and deceptions of INEC. When the cup was full, rather than continuing with the petition, CPC just filed for judgment that GMB should be declared winner of the election. It is to be noted that the petition was essentially about INEC’s conduct of the election.The content of the new motion from CPC was so weighty that the defence panicked that the court might give judgment in CPC, so Hon.Justice Ayo Salami was removed!When this happened, the lead counsel for CPC, being a very experienced lawyer, also withdrew from the case. He knew that what would remain of the judicial proceeding would be mere charade.At the resumed hearing, the CPC’s motion for judgment was thrown out by the four judges remaining.Undaunted, CPC raised another motion for INEC to allow the inspection of 19 different election materials at its offices. The court then ordered INEC to comply. Again, INEC continued the usual rigmarole and refused to comply. Meanwhile, CPC closed its case with the submission of written address. The court ordered that it was no longer necessary for INEC to comply with the original order. I was really indignant. I showed my disgust in a Press Statement that painted the judges in bad light. Tribune Newspapers published my Press Statement and the editors were subpoenaed by the court. Tribune Editors pointed at me as the source of their information. I was subpoenaed too. The plan was to make me commit contempt of court before the face of court and send me to jail.The night before my appearance in court, Pastor Tunde Bakare called me.Pastor Bakare: what is this I am hearing about contempt of court?[I narrated the full story and what I wrote].Pastor Bakare: we need to get you a lawyer to be with you in court tomorrow. I shall call back.Meanwhile, I need to mention that the legal team of CPC arguing the petition maintained a good distance from my case.They reasoned that, should they defend me, the Judges might interpret it to mean that they prodded me to lampoon them. And of course, they knew there would be hostility against their petition.In the mean time, after back and forth for about three times, Pastor told me that he could not get a Human Rights Lawyer to be in court with me the following morning. Then, he said, “Let us pray!”He prayed for me that the Lord God Almighty would go with me. As a Lawyer, he knew that, except God took absolute control, I would not escape jail.And truly, God Almighty went ahead of me ; I bought myself some lifeline.[That escape from the Judges is another story!]And, of course, before the adjourned date, Pastor Bakare had already secured the services of Mr Femi Falana, SAN. He came with very powerful motion to interrogate the reasoning behind using subpoena to lure someone to court, with a view to making him commit contempt of court and sending him to jail. All the Parties, at that point, knew that a truce was needed.That experience made me to believe in the Leadership acumen of Pastor Bakare. He became my big brother – ‘Egbon’ for short!The money for the payment of CPC agents was kept with Pastor Tunde Bakare. A very huge amount of money.His house in Opebi, Lagos got burnt. Then, GMB called. After the initial commiserations, he asked about the money.Pastor Bakare: The money is safe in a safe deposit. The money was not burnt with my house.GMB: AlhamdullilaiSo, when you need a President who will not invest state money in his family business, you need to look in the direction of Pastor Tunde Bakare.When you need a President who not steal your money under whatever circumstances, you need to look in the direction of Pastor Tunde Bakare.During his 60th birthday in 2014, this is what GMB said: “Throughout my association with you, I have always found you a dependable Ally; and even at most difficult times, you have always kept your word….”As President Muhammadu Buhari, he had this to say when Pastor Bakare celebrated his 65th birthday:”I pray that your indomitable spirit will continue to point Nigeria to all that is noble and just….”May God give us the gift of capable men, who shall lead with integrity, nobility and humility. For me, I have found these attributes in Pastor Tunde Bakare. My choice is made!
Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, FNSE.