Yesterday, Pastor Tunde Bakare, the Senior Pastor of the Citadel Global Community Church (formerly known as the Latter Rain Church), clarified that he supports the removal of the fuel subsidy, focusing on combatting corruption within the system.
Although he acknowledged the negative economic consequences of the subsidy removal on Nigerians, he called upon President Bola Tinubu to prioritize eradicating corruption rather than harming the citizens.
Speaking on the harsh economy in the country, at the church auditorium, located on Kuditat Abiola way, Ikeja in Lagos, Pastor Bakare said: “What is further clear concerning our domestic challenges is that by imposing hardship on Nigerians without going after those corrupt individuals, corporations and government officials, who have plundered Nigeria over the years in the name of subsidy, the president has picked the wrong fight.
“In his Monday, July 31, 2023, address to the nation, the president stated that the vast sum of money which ‘would have been better spent on public transportation, healthcare, schools, housing and even national security…was being funnelled into the deep pockets and lavish bank accounts of a select group of individuals.
“The president further stated that the subsidy removal policy was to stop the squandering of monies on smugglers and fraudsters.
“This compels us to ask the following salient questions: Who are these select groups of individuals into whose deep pockets our national treasury has been funnelled?
‘’Who are these smugglers and fraudsters that have been defrauding our nation in the name of subsidy?
“Who are these nameless characters that have fed fat at the expense of the poor? Or are they all sacred cows?
‘’Mr President, if you are truly on the side of the poor, if you are serious about the welfare of the people, if you truly want the poor to breathe, as you once said, then kill corruption, not Nigerians.
“Fellow citizens, the rallying cry by which the Save Nigeria Group, SNG, galvanised Nigerians in January 2012 at Gani Fawehinmi Pack, Ojota was ‘kill corruption, not Nigerians’
“This was our cry when we made it evident that our fight was not against the removal of fuel subsidy but against the corruption in the system. This was our fight when, amid the threats to my life and family, right there at Ojota and live on national and international television, I called out by name those individuals and corporate entities who had allegedly ravaged our nation.
“Mr President, given the complexity of the Nigerian economy, we are not thoroughly convinced that your palliatives will be sufficient to cushion the effect of your policies on the Nigerian citizen.
‘’What we do know, however, is that on May 29, 2023, you swore an oath to ‘be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
On the coup in Niger Republic, Bakare kicked against the proposal by ECOWAS for military intervention, describing it as counter-intuitive.
He said: “It is, therefore, counter-intuitive to engage in what could be a protracted conflict. This much the Tinubu-led ECOWAS ought to have learnt from the aftermath of America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
‘’While we condemn the spate of coup d’états in West Africa, we recognise that the situation calls for deep introspection on the part of African leaders and makes even more urgent the case for good governance.
‘’The call upon Nigeria at this time is not so much to compel submission in the subregion through the force of might, but to command alignment through exemplary governance. The real question is whether President Tinubu is capable of providing such moral leadership, even in the domestic context.
The president further stated that the subsidy removal policy was to stop the squandering of monies on smugglers and fraudsters.
“Mr President, while we admit that, as of today, our nation has transitioned from an administration that came to power on the supposed wings of integrity and anti-corruption to one that cannot be described as such, the fact remains that you are today the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with enormous powers to fight against corruption in its hydra-headed forms.
“Even if the allegations against you are valid, you can still have a road to Damascus experience and decide today to stand on the side of probity and bring to book the vested interests that have built their wealth on the ruins of our nation.
‘’You can decide today to take the burden of reforms off the Nigerian people and go after the corporations and individuals who have plundered our nation. You can decide today to stand with the poor and take the fight to the plunderers.
‘’Mr President, even though you have announced some palliatives, let me remind you that palliatives cannot address the root cause of the problem.”Therefore, we demand that you address the root cause of the problem. Take the yoke off the neck of the poor, go after the looters, recover the loot, and retool it to the benefit of Nigerians. In simple terms, Mr President, kill corruption, not Nigerians.”