Nigerians are highly religious. So it is not surprising when religion gets entangled in politics. Pastor Tunde Bakare, a social critic and staunch supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari and also his running mate in the 2011 presidential elections announced on 1 January that ‘God’ has told him to contest for the Presidency.
However, Pastor Bakare said that ‘God’ did not tell him ‘when the appointed time to run for the Presidency would be.” This could be interpreted to mean that Pastor Bakare is not planning to run against Buhari in 2019, unless he gets another revelation asking him to do so.
Another thing that Pastor Bakare did not say is if God is asking him to run because of dissatisfaction with the current administration or if the mission to run is to achieve some desired ‘divine’ objective. But apparently ‘God’ would not be asking him to jump into the presidential race if the current occupant of the office was doing such a great job.
Bakare’s calling to run for the Presidency could be interpreted as him showing a red card to the current occupant of that position. However, it must be noted that Bakare, a known critic of previous governments have been less critical of the current government. But that may change, if he is eyeing the position.
On the same day, that Pastor Bakare was receiving divine revelation to run for office, another religious leader, who threw his weight behind Buhari in the 2015 national elections even at the risk of his reputation and divine calling, was also serving a divine warning to President Buhari.
Father Mbaka, as he is popularly called, a Catholic priest, who has a strong following in the South East was quoted by the Sun Newspaper as warning Buhari, during his New Year message on January 1 not to contest for a second term in office.
“As I was waiting on the Lord, I’m asked to advise you, don’t come out for second tenure; after this, retire peacefully.”
“Come back to yourself or you will cry by the time you will be sent out of office. Those who are encouraging you to come out and run again want to disgrace you shamefully and publicly,” Mbaka, the director of the Adoration Ministries in Enugu, was quoted as saying.
Even though President Buhari has not clearly stated his intention to run for a second term, he has hinted at different occasions that he would likely be seeking a second term, which is within his right as a first term president.
Buhari’s quest for second term has also been raised by the fact that his first term has largely been marred by long absences due to ill health. He would naturally feel, he could have performed better without his health issues. Now that he looks completely healed, he probably looks at a second term as a potential redemption card for a first term that has fallen below the expectations of many of his ardent supporters.
But there remains a strong opposition to Buhari’s bid for a second term, especially for those that feel that the economy management skills of the president has been woeful in his first term and are afraid of a second term of the same.
And now with pastors, who once supported Buhari look to be jumping ship, the race for 2019 is beginning to look even more dicey for the incumbent if he decides to throw his heart into the ring.