28th February, 2011
Ever since Pastor Tunde Bakare, founder and leader of Latter Rain Assembly, one of the Pentecostal churches that control the largest crowds in the county today, started showing overt interest in the political developments of our country, he has been a subject of attacks from different angles. Those attacks, coming from either amongst his colleagues from his immediate constituency â€“ the Church or some members of the public, are what I personally see as â€˜undue and unjust criticismsâ€™.
I recall here that Pastor Bakareâ€™s involvement in political activities became noticeable when he, together with some prominent pro-democracy activists in the country like Professor Wole Soyinka led mass protests last year against the dilatory approach of the NASS to allow the provisions of our constitution to prevail during the sickness of late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua who, before he finally answered Allahâ€™s call, had obviously been unable to perform his official duties. Undoubtedly, the efforts of the likes of Pastor Bakare and Wole Soyinka led to making President Goodluck Jonathan Acting-President then before he eventually became President after the death of his boss.
From the church, Pastor Tunde Bakareâ€™s immediate constituency, the criticism against him and other Pastors who are being politically involved, is that men of God should not get involved in politics, that they should confine themselves to the four walls of the church alone and limit their activities to evangelism. Some members of the public are also corroborating this position by asking the question; what is the business of Pastors in politics?
I like to state here categorically that this piece is not meant to defend Pastor Bakare alone but all the other Pastors (the serious ones amongst them please) who have been getting involved in the political developments of our country. The excuse that men of God shouldnâ€™t get involved in politics can not hold water because it fails completely to take into account certain historical facts in human history. From religious perspective for instance, the holy Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was not only a spiritual leader. As the head of Islamic community then, he was both a religious and political leader and his remains the best example in leadership history. The constitution he left behind as guiding rules for governing human community was thoroughly practised by his immediate successors known in Islamic history as the â€˜caliphateâ€™ and the resultant effects were justice, fairness, abolition of poverty, abundant wealth for all and peace throughout the caliphate era.
The story of Jesus Christ can hardly be said to be dissimilar to that of Prophet Muhammed as all his teachings centred round how do we resolve all knotty issues under the sky such that peace, harmony, abundant wealth and unity will be guaranteed among humanity. He proffered love as the solution. We all know that politics is about government and government itself is about governing, running the affairs of men, that is. Thus, when men of God, I mean real men of God who understand and practise the concept of love as preached by Jesus, now decide to stay aloof from politics, how do we guarantee among humanity those issues touched by Jesus? Those who are saying that politics should be a no-go-area for pastors are oblivious of the fact that everything in life revolves around politics. Either at individual or collective level, we hardly can do without politics. In governing your house, you are engaged in politics, in dispute settlement, you are engaged in politics, in keeping their congregations intact through ensuring that love and peace reign in churches and mosques, religious leaders are engaged in politics.
From the foregoing, I donâ€™t see any cogent reason for real men of God to sit on the fence when it comes to practical politics involving the larger society as they, their families and their congregations are parts and parcels of the society and if the society is good, they stand to benefit and vice-versa. To ensure a better society, real men of God must not sit down and just watch. Indisputably, absence of men of God at leadership level, I mean good people, well-meaning individuals who truly have the fear of God and the love of the people at heart, is one major thing that has consistently robbed us of good leadership in this country. If Pastors, Imams plus others have better ideas and vision than our professional politicians on how we can get out of the woods, let them come out and be massively supported. There is nothing bad in Pastors coming out to criticise bad government policies, getting involved in the political process and even coming out to contest for political offices if they really mean well. But what I hate to hear is Pastors saying they were called by God to go into politics. I donâ€™t think God necessarily needs to speak to anybody to participate in those processes that will bring about positive changes in the society he belongs.
It is only in this part of the world that Pastors maintain a â€˜sidon look’ approach to issues of politics and worst still, where their involvement or seeming involvement isÂ being regarded as meddlesomeness. The history of the world is replete with Pastors who made gigantic contributions to the political developments of their fatherlands and who were actively involved in the processes of radical transformations that took place in their climes. Martin Luther King Jnr., the late American civil rights activist readily comes to mind here as the best example. The great Mahatma Ghandi of India provides another good example. He was a Pastor in the concept of Hinduism. What of Rev. Dr. Desmond Tutu of South Africa here? He is Archbishop of the Anglican church. These aforementioned great men never limited themselves to the church. They were in the streets in the sun and in the rain leading protests that culminated in positive political developments in their countries that are of great benefit to their present generations and from which their generations yet unborn shall also live to benefit.
To stay in the church and continue to pray for prosperity and good government without being involved practically in the real process that will bring about the changes we yearn for, is like expecting manna to fall from heaven. Manna doesn’t fall from heaven any more. It did aeons ago and only for the Israelites. Thus, a fortiori the time has come for our Pastors to follow in the footsteps of Pastor Tunde Bakare and stop limiting themselves to collecting tithes and preaching prosperity because prosperity and changes will never come without action. God will not come down to perform our duties and obligations for us. He is exceptionally efficient in those things that concern Him.
Only by action, radical approach, can we get there as a nation. Docility can not take us anywhere. We have learnt from the history of great countries of the world that prayer alone can not take any country to its promised land. Only prayer that is backed by action can do. Period!