A Lagos clergy, Pastor Tunde Bakare, the General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly on Sunday engaged his congregation in a no hold barred sermon titled “The Building Blocks of Nationhood: A Blueprint for the new Nigeria.”
The tough talking and fearless Pastor before taking a swipe at the now disbanded SARS which he described as State Aided Robbery Squad, acknowledged the outstanding efforts of some fallen officers of the elite Police squad. He recalled the gallantry of Chukwudi Boko who died while combating arm robbers at a bank in Owerri and Sergeant Sunday idoko who was killed in Ilaro, Ogun State while resisting hoodlums from snatching ballot boxes.
And on the Lekki massacre of the EndSARS protest, he said the Nigerian soldiers that were involved in the shooting have stained the Nigerian flag with the blood of Nigerian youth’s contrary to the line in our former national anthem “…a banner without stain” which the nation inherited from Britain.
“When a people elect leaders, they hand over the power and responsibilities to the elected officers to protect them. The Policeman on the streets is the first ambassador of government to the people.” He queried why a State institution funded by tax payer’s money is used against the people they were meant to protect.
“Those who ordered armed soldiers to shoot at the unarmed youths should be fished out and the officers should be prosecuted by the standard of international law,” He posited.
He said government must move from promise to full commitment of fulfilling the 5-point demands of the EndSARS protesters.
He disclosed that the shortcoming of SARS is a systemic failure. He stressed that the issue is more than mere disbandment of SARS as the spirit of the body continues to spread to other fabrics of the society. Bad government experience is a reflection of SARS. SARS is the emblem on the agbada of legislators who use biro to rob the people. SARS is the symbol of lawyers and Judges who pervert the will of the people at the poll thereby robbing them of the power of choice.
The clergy identified SARS as the foundational problem of nationhood saying until this is addressed holistically, the call to end SARS will continue to be a mirage. Said he, “we cannot open a new door unless we address the problem of the parents and grandparents of the millennials. It is obvious that the fight of my generation and those before me like the late Gani Fawehinmi to ensure that the generation thereafter get a better future have not yielded the desired result.”
He however warned the government saying “your bullets may drive citizens out of the streets but not our spirit to fight on.” He apologized to Nigerian youths whom he referred to as ‘the generation deprived.’
He said that this fight should be a collaborative one. It is time to explore a diversity of strategy. According to him it is now clear that a change of strategy is needed in the protest to avert further shedding of innocent blood and keeping the gains attained so far. The cumulative effort of this strategy would produce far reaching result saying that the hindsight of the older generation must propel the foresight of the younger generation. He stressed that there must be a unity of purpose across the generations.
And in building a new Nigeria where our hospitals are lifesaving institutions and every Nigerian have access to quality healthcare, reintegration and rebirth is key. He explained that a national redemption experience entails the forsaking of a primordial attachment to ethnicity and tribalism, pledging rather allegiance to a higher national identity. And stressed that these twin factors can never produce good government.
The terse Pastor said an appropriate institutional framework for such an experience would be the Presidential Commission for national reconciliation, reintegration and rebirth.
He said that the spirit of the new Nigerian culture is what has ignited in the hearts and minds of our young people, a new wave of patriotism and the rejection of the status quo.
He admonished the government to revisit the national character for national reconciliation and integration proposed in the 2014 National Conference.