‘This president does give a damn’ | 25 quotes to note from Tunde Bakare’s State of the Nation address

Pastor Tunde Bakare, Pastor and flock leader of the Latter Rain Assembly based in Lagos, on Sunday, January 10 delivered his annual State of the Nation broadcast at his church premises in Lagos.

The pastor discussed several issues pertaining to the nation and how the government can achieve driving success in moving the country Nigeria forward to glory years.

Here are 25 best quotes from Pastor Tunde’s address.

In his introduction, Pastor Bakare explained why he annually delivers a State of the Union address.

  1. Let me for the sake of posterity state clearly here that I am not an agent of any individual and, up till today, whatever I have done for any government, past or present, publicly or behind the scenes, I have done pro bono.

2. As for me, regardless of how I am perceived, I will continue to contribute my quota, as long as I breathe, to building an enduring and progressive nation.

On change and the nation, Nigeria.

3. The buzzword in our nation today is “change”.  It was perhaps the key word and message that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power as he campaigned all over the country on APC’s platform.

4. Now that the election is over, it is incumbent upon us all, citizens and government, to do all in our collective power to ensure that we are not short-changed by the change we so desired and voted for.

5. Fellow Nigerians, we cannot rearrange the old and label it the new – that is an exercise in self-deception or delusion. The tadpole has to be willing to change if it is going to become a frog. The caterpillar must be willing to give up being what it has always been, spin a cocoon around itself, and wait until it is fashioned into a butterfly. In like manner, We the People, and those we put in power to serve our collective interests, must be willing to die to our inglorious past.

We must expect and accept a clearly defined pathway to what we collectively desire to become. We must turn our backs on what used to be if we are ever to become something new. That is the secret to successful change. To settle for less that this is to short-change ourselves.

6. Let me state clearly here that I firmly believe that change is possible. And much more, I am fully persuaded that Nigeria can and will change for the better

We need to change our way of thinking and then doing. Only transformed people can transform nations. And difficult as it may seem, National Transformation is not Rocket Science. Even if it is, Rocket Scientists are not aliens from another planet – they are humans like you and I.

7. We need to change our governance structure. The present system is severely wasteful. Left as is, it will continue to generate as well as perpetuate a syndicate of scams and profligacy at all levels of government.

8. We need to change our Grundnorm by creating a true federal system of government while making the welfare and security of our people the raison d’être of government.

9. We need to change our cash and carry judicial and legislative systems. Thus, in order to obtain the new, we must release a decaying system that has arrested our development and growth as well as created a very wide gulf between the opportunistic elitist rich and unfortunate poor among our citizens.

10. We have seen what has been generally described as the anti-corruption body language of Mr. President. This president does “give a damn” as far as public declaration of assets is concerned. And so does the vice-president.

Questions on restructuring Nigeria’s Federalism for advancement.

11. Is it a coincidence that every state of the federation is endowed with mineral resources? Would it not be a better strategy for states to be empowered to manage these resources?

12. Is it sheer coincidence that the nation’s bio-geographical features, including the vegetation belts and rivers, roughly divide the landscape into six geographical zones? Shouldn’t these zones provide a basis for economic mapping and development? Why were the regions in the days of our Founding Fathers so economically viable to the extent of sustaining the federal government? Why can’t we begin a geo-economic path to geopolitical restructuring?

The way forward in transportation, power and works.

13. Why can’t the state governments, working as zonal blocs, come together with the federal government, to design an inter-modal transport system, as well as a hybrid power infrastructure model, along the lines of regional comparative advantage, and begin to push for the appropriate legal regimes to facilitate its implementation?

14. Why can’t we allow for electricity generation, transmission and distribution at the zonal, state and community levels, such that domestic consumption needs are met at the sub-national levels, while the national grid becomes an electricity exporting vehicle serving the rest of West and even Central Africa, generating income for the federation that could be distributed on the derivation principle based on percentage generation?

On education, literacy and illiteracy in the geopolitical zones of the nation.

[While 56.75% of the population in the North-East is uneducated, 54.85% of the North-West and 30.3% of the North-Central population lack access. In the southern zones, the uneducated population statistics are: 14.35% for the South-West, 14.7% for the South-East, and 9.55% for the South-South]

15. These disparities are brought about by socio-cultural, security, economic, and, sometimes, geographical factors. In light of these statistics and causal factors, is it not common sense policy-making to have zonal regulation of education, with each zone charged with the responsibility of developing qualitative and quantitative human capital in order to maximize the peculiar potential of the respective zone, in line with a national vision that links education to industrialization?

On oil production and subsidy removal

16. Is it not laziness of the highest order that one of the largest producers of crude oil in the world exports crude and imports refined products at cut-throat costs? It is incomprehensible laziness that an oil producing country would decline to zero refining capacity!

17. It is in our collective interest to bring this aberration to an end, taking advantage of the dip in oil prices to effect a phased replacement of the subsidy regime with domestic production. Whereas the buzzword in the subsidy debate is “subsidy removal”, we are advocating “subsidy replacement”.

Subsidy replacement would entail the adoption of targeted palliatives that would ensure that the benefits of intervention get to the so-called average Nigerian for whom it is designed while taking steps to restore full capacity for domestic production. This must be communicated effectively and transparently to stakeholders including the labour unions.

18. Without a doubt, the ultimate solution to the subsidy conundrum lies in optimally functional refineries. While we appreciate the current efforts towards restructuring the downstream sector, we also need to explore innovative approaches to domestic refining; in this regard, the need for modular refineries cannot be overemphasized.

19. In relation to the upstream sector, we maintain that now that crude is fast losing its value, is the best time to diversify, and that diversification can only succeed when accompanied with devolution of powers in a restructured federal system. Indeed, the summary of our assessment of the entire framework of governance and public policy is that, without restructuring, this administration may achieve little or no significant and sustainable success.

On the fall of the naira and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

20. To the discerning, the CBN currently contributes negatively to the Nigerian state in more ways than one. Firstly, the CBN has become a conduit for politicians to drain the nation. Otherwise, how can a letter of barely two paragraphs addressed to the current CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, by the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), become the Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) leading to cash flow of $47 million (US dollars) and several millions of euros? In decent climes, the CBN Governor cannot continue in office while the NSA is accounting for his alleged misdeeds.

21. The wealth of the Central Bank of Nigeria belongs to the people of Nigeria, not the Governor and staff of the CBN. Our foreign reserves could be used to drive infrastructural development with a view to building a strong local industrial base and ensuring a solid financial services sector rather than for political and unaccountable misadventures.

22. It is important to add that, rather than mere devaluation of the naira, a strong local productive base that widens Nigeria’s foreign exchange window is the lasting solution to the lingering currency crisis, especially the shortage of the dollar relative to the naira.

On cutting down allowances of lawmakers and reducing cost of governance.

23. For instance, of what use is a bloated legislature that could potentially gulp 25% of the entire national recurrent budget? Of what use is a profligate governmental structure characterized by minuscule but treasury-draining federating units? Of what use is a constitutional provision for the appointment of thirty-six ministers even when we have no need for so many?

On reduction of minimum wage.

24. As for the state governments, care must be taken not to provoke the rage of poorly paid civil servants by reducing the minimum wage of already impoverished workers. What they should do is devise a reasonable policy direction that will lead to a reduction in the salaries of politicians and political appointees, reduce security votes, significantly trim the size and cost of governance, and then embark on vigorous revenue mobilization strategies.

On the way forward and 2014 National Conference

25. I appeal to Mr. President not to ignore the report of the 2014 National Conference! God went ahead of you to provide a navigational map with which you can begin to steer the ship of state to a safe destination. The APC may have refused to participate in the 2014 National Conference, but the report of that conference is completely in tandem with the promise of the APC Manifesto.

Just as this government adopted the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which were conceived by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the Buhari-led government should embrace the report of the 2014 National Conference. That report may have been produced under a PDP government but it is not a PDP document. It is a Nigerian people’s document. All the delegates to the 2014 National Conference, East, West, North, and South endorsed the report without a single vote on any issue.

The pastor, who was Buhari’s running mate in one of his failed bid to become the President of the country before his eventual success concluded his address with words of advice for the President.

In conclusion, I have observed that this government has been laying emphasis on 2 Ds – Deregulation and Diversification. However, the diversification policy cannot be pursued without Devolution and to devolve effectively means to restructure the geo-polity and review our forms of government. Therefore, the government needs to update to 3 Ds. We cannot afford to sweep devolution of powers under the carpet.

He also urged President to act now and fast to deliver the promised change to Nigerians

Mr. President, Sir, please use the keys and make real the promise of change! There is no better time than now! Go, PMB, GO! For such a time as this, God and Nigerians have brought you back into power. Like an arrow in the hands of Almighty God, hit the main target. Make hay while the sun shines. Strike the iron while it is hot and trust God and posterity to judge you right for saving Nigeria from a self-imposed debilitating structural defect. Remember, only those who dare drive the world forward.

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