From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The founder of Citadel Global Community Church, Pastor Tunde Bakare, on Friday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to dispense with what he said was in his heart.
This is even as he charged the National Assembly to improve on its record of quality legislation by working to achieve electronic voting.
According to him, there is the need for the nation to adopt electronic voting to ensure that no Nigerian of eligible voting age including those in the Diaspora who remit $25 billion annually are disenfranchised.
Bakare, who was the running mate of the Buhari under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011, spoke to State House Correspondents after the meeting with President.
On the on-going debates over presidential power rotation, Bakare said the agitation is being fuelled by political immaturity, arguing that the debate ought to have bordered on the capacity and character of whoever will be allowed to lead the country.
“I said it on the 3rd of October. It’s our immaturity, politically and otherwise, that makes us say power must either be in the North or be in the South, instead of looking for the best, the fittest, the most competent, and people of character, who love this nation.
“Listen to me, if where the president comes from will make the place he has come from to be better, the Northern part of Nigeria should be richest and should be the most progressive and the most developed because out of 61 years, the north has produced either the president or heads of state for 40 to 41 years and yet, see the retrogression in the North.
“If it’s from the South, why should a person like President Obasanjo freeze and seize the account of Lagos State in his own tenure? If it’s from South-South or South-East why couldn’t President Jonathan use all his powers to develop South-South and the South-East?
“Not where they come from, it’s what they carry and what they have to offer. May the best of the best of Nigerians rise, whether they’re from the east, from the west, from the north, and from the south.
“If there are agreements between politicians among themselves on rotation, a bargain is a bargain. That’s between them. But as far as this country is concerned, what we need at this stage is man who can drive us to the Eldorado”, he said.
The cleric commended the National Assembly for approving electronic transmission of election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), describing it as one of the best things the federal legislature had so far done.
Reacting to the recent approval for electronic transmission of election results, he said: “Perhaps one of the best things the present National Assembly has done, especially the Senate, because with that, Nigerians can vote and then results can be transmitted so easily. Not only that, part of the State of the Nation address that I did on October 10, I emphasised how Nigeria youth, especially undergraduates, are disenfranchised in our country.
“I said 22.3 million students are registered, but during elections, campuses are shut, they will not be able to return there to vote, therefore disenfranchised. If we can do not just transmitting results, but to be able to vote electronically, that will be wonderful. It will deepen and enhance our democracy.
“Not only that, the Diaspora sends above $25 billion to Nigeria. Nigeria in Diaspora should also be able to vote like they do in every other country in the world. The more, the merrier. Yes, democracy is a game of numbers, but our people should have the final say. So, the office of the citizen must be as important, if not more than the office of the governor or the president because they are the people who put them in power. Sovereignty still lies in the hands of the people of Nigeria,”, he said.
The cleric also said his call for restructuring of the country does not involve Balkanisation, but explained that a peaceful restructuring is possible, when justice, equity and the rule of law are allowed to take hold.
“I’ said it, it’s in the open, the documents are already there, it’s not something I can cover in five minutes. We can do it without shooting any gun. The lecture after lecture after lecture, I have prepared and I’ve made copies available to Mr President.
“We need to do it, to move this nation forward. The founding fathers of this nation; Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, alongside with their entourage, in Lancaster House and everywhere, agreed on what type of government Nigeria should have. We must not change the goalpost in the midst of the game.
“We are better off together as a nation than going our different ways. But it must be based on equity, justice, fair play and a rule of law”, he said.