BEING TEXT OF THE ADDRESS BY PASTOR ‘TUNDE BAKARE ON THE STATE OF THE NIGERIAN YOUTH
AT THE CITADEL GLOBAL COMMUNITY CHURCH (CGCC), 30, KUDIRAT ABIOLA WAY, OREGUN, IKEJA, LAGOS, NIGERIA. ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2020
THEME: ‘THE YOUTH OF A NATION ARE THE TRUSTEES OF POSTERITY’ (BENJAMIN DISRAELI)
Fellow citizens of our great nation, Gentlemen of the Press:
Today is the grand finale of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of my darling wife, Pastor Mrs. ‘Layide Adetokunbo Bamidele Bakare, better known as The Authentic Mrs. B, and, of course, my 66th birthday. With your kind permission, I would, on this great occasion, like to address a very crucial issue of national importance, namely the need to channel the tremendous energy of the Nigerian youth towards building the Nigeria of our dreams, a nation of which generations yet unborn will be proud.
For this address, I have chosen as a theme the evergreen words of Benjamin Disraeli: ‘The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.’[i] This has become all the more necessary because of the backlash being meted out on some of the young Nigerians who participated in the EndSARS protests.
Sixty-six years ago, in a land forged beneath ancient rocks, the city of Abeokuta, I was born into declining wealth by parents who had high hopes for my future. After my father died shortly before my third birthday, I was raised in abject poverty by a single mother who went through untold suffering and an enormous amount of self-sacrifice to give me an education and a sense of supreme confidence because she believed so greatly in my future. My mother, who I describe as the woman who saw the future,[ii] was a disciplinarian who groomed me into a respectful but audacious young man with big dreams. She infused into me an uncompromising sense of justice and an enormous dose of courage and confidence to back it up.
That sense of justice was what inspired me as a student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) to join other students in the Ali Must Go protests against a military government whose draconian policies made living conditions difficult for students. That same sense of justice was what gave me the boldness as a student leader in the University of Lagos to stand face-to-face with the then military head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo, in the company of the then Angolan president, Agostinho Neto, on November 11, 1978, and to declare within earshot of the Nigerian head of state that ‘This government possesses power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight’ (paraphrasing Martin Luther King Jnr).[iii] I would later be told by an official of the State Security Service (SSS), now Department of State Services (DSS), that it was that day in 1978 a file was opened with my name on it.
I must say that such a sense of justice was what I saw in action as young Nigerians rallied the nation last month in peaceful protests against police brutality. As I reminisced on the unfortunate incident of the shooting of unarmed protesters by Nigerian soldiers, I recalled with solemnity how I almost lost my life in the Ali Must Go protests as armed policemen fired live bullets into a crowd of students protesting peacefully. Unfortunately, the bullet that narrowly missed me gunned down the young man who was beside me, Akintunde Ojo, after whom a library in UNILAG was subsequently named. As I said in my address to the nation on October 25, 2020,[iv] it is painful that the younger generation has had to face the same beasts we fought in my generation. This is why we cannot afford to keep sinful silence when the youth of our nation are being oppressed by a Nigerian state that is supposed to protect them.
To read this entire speech, download here; PRESS_THE YOUTH OF A NATION ARE THE TRUSTEES OF POSTERITY_NOVEMBER 15_2020