By Chinelo Obogo
The Senior Pastor at the Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare, has publicly backed the campaign of presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and former minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili.
Bakare backed Ezekwesili’s campaign, yesterday, during his annual State of the Nation address titled: “The prophetic portrait of Nigeria in her latter days,” which took place in his Lagos church.
Bakare, who was running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2011, on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), said Nigeria has been structurally skewed to run a system that perpetuates bad leadership but that of all the presidential candidates, only Ezekwesili has the capacity to effect positive change.
He said: “As we approach the elections, 73 candidates are gunning for the presidency, a seat reserved for only one person. The most prominent candidates have come out with promises as regards how they intend to take our nation to the desired destination.
“However, of the new breed seeking to disrupt the political space, none gives me as much hope for the near future as does my sister, Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili, of (ACPN), whose candidacy I shared publicly several days before her official announcement.
“One thing is very clear in my mind: with her candidacy, no Nigerian can reasonably say after the election that there was no credible alternative to the statusquo in 2019.”
Bakare also spoke on reports detailing the conditions under which soldiers fighting terror in the North East operate and wondered why soldiers would work under such conditions; despite the billions of naira reportedly allocated to the Ministry of Defence, for the fight against terror.
“At the beginning of 2018, when the nation was thrown into mourning by the heinous activities of herdsmen which left the Benue towns of Logo and Goma devastated, it was from this platform that we warned a complacent government of complicity by deliberate sinful silence.
“Between 2008 and 2018, N6 trillion has been allocated to the Ministry of Defence. Between 2012 and 2014, it received a whopping 19.9 percent of the total budget on average.
“In 2017, N6.8 billion was budgeted for defence equipment, while Operation Lafiya Dole “and other operations of the armed forces” received N78 billion.
“With these relatively huge allocations, even with average budget performance, the allegations that our soldiers fight under poor conditions are intolerable.
“Even more disturbing is the 2017 investigative report that soldiers in the theatre of war lack basic necessities such as food, uniforms and footwear despite the fact that a portion of their wages is questionably deducted as feeding allowance.
‘’These reports, in addition to the 2018 protests by soldiers deployed in the theatre of war, give cause for concern especially against the backdrop of the recent resurgence of the terrorists.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to major presidential candidates, urging them to “publicly commit to revolutionary and innovative anti-corruption reforms in five key areas, such as security votes, power sector corruption, judicial corruption and removal of immunity for presidents, vice-presidents, state governors and deputy governors.”
In a January 19 statement signed by the Senior Legal Adviser, Bamisope Adeyanju, SERAP said: “Candidates should commit to scrapping security votes spending by presidents and state governors by repealing the Constitution to include specific prohibition of security votes. They should also commit to a comprehensive audit of spending on security votes by presidents and governors since the return of democracy in 1999…”