Monday, 26 August 2013

Dad wept when Buhari made him his running mate — Tunde Bakare’s daughter

Bakare and his family
In this interview with GBENGA ADENIJI, a daughter to Pastor Tunde Bakare, Olubunmi, talks about the kind of life her father leads outside the pulpit
Can you give a brief background about yourself?
I am Olubunmi Bakare. I am the first of five children of Pastor and Mrs. Tunde Bakare. I earned a degree in Political Science from the Emory University, Atlanta, United States For the past few years, I have been contributing my quota to the public education sector in the country by running an after-school programme. That is what I do at the moment.
How do people relate with you each time you introduce yourself as a daughter to a popular and controversial pastor?
I do not introduce myself as Pastor Tunde Bakare’s daughter to people. My father does not announce himself and there is no reason any of us should do such. Where would we have got a puffed-up attitude from? I prefer to do what I need to do and go unnoticed. I am exceedingly proud of my father, but it is not a badge of honour that I wear around because I do not like attracting unnecessary attention to myself. Even my father does not like much attention.  I do not see him as a controversial figure. I see him as my dad. There is no controversy about him as far as I am concerned. But I understand that as a vocal critic, some people will have a certain perception of him. I know that not everyone is going to like him and not everyone is going to hate him. The measure of a man is who God says he is and who God created Him to be. So, either you like him today or hate him tomorrow, it does not matter. At the end of the day, if he is doing what God called to him, I am fine with that. So, critics and well-wishers, I welcome them all.

What are the values your father taught you?
My father is somebody who is extremely passionate about God and His kingdom. That is one of the things I have imbibed from him. He always says no matter what you are doing in this world, if you are not doing it for God, you have lived a wasted life. I live in that regard and try to model my life towards that. He is also a man who is passionate about equal opportunities for everybody. He is an advocate of fairness and justice for everybody because the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. He sees no reason why some people should have so much at the expense of others. I also try to contribute my quota in that regard because I realise that at the end of the day, I am not in this world to live for only my family or friends but the larger world. I always look for whatever values I can help to impact on others. I imbibed from him two main things: Live for God and live for others.
Did he discuss with members of his family when he decided to contest for the number two office in the country and if he did, what response did he get?
Let me tell you a story about that. I was the only one at home the day Gen. Muhammadu Buhari called him. He was downstairs and I was upstairs. After receiving the call, he ran to my room and broke down in tears. I have never seen my dad cry except for some scenes in one or two Nollywood movies. I have not actually seen him cry. I asked him what the matter was. He said Gen. Buhari just called and asked him to be his running mate. He said people would think his stance on the state of the nation was for political office whereas it was never his intention. I told him the development was totally different from what he stood for because I know that the overriding interest of my father is the growth and development of the country.
I remember some of the things he had told us when he was growing up about his love for Nigeria’s advancement. I also remember the dream I had earlier about my father having a significant role to play in the reshaping of Nigeria. I then told him to accept the offer because I know he has a very pure heart.
You encouraged him?
Yes I did because I know he means well for the country. He is not self-seeking.
How did you feel when he lost the election?
The family accepted the outcome with a sense of pride. This is because a lot of people see so many things that are wrong but when it comes to the point of laying their lives and everything they have on the line, they shy away from that responsibility. We were all involved in the electioneering. Though not all of us were around but my mother, siblings and I were with him when he was on the campaign tour. My father did his best. He also accepted the outcome in good fate. But I know that ultimately, he did what he was supposed to do at that moment in time and the end will justify the means.
If he decides to contest again will you encourage him?
Definitely I will. My father is not a rash man. I know him to be extremely thoughtful. He reflects and prays. I know that whatever he does is because he has clarity in his spirit and God will support him. He is not doing all of this because he wants anything for himself. By God’s grace, he worked hard and God has favoured him.
Since he is always on the move, how does he create time for his family? 
He sat us down at a very young age to tell us what he has been called to do. So, we support his work in God’s kingdom, work in Nigeria and everything he does because he keeps us abreast of what he is doing. We recognise the fact that he travels a lot but he creates time for his family. He will talk to us one-on-one and we usually pray together. Even when he is in the office, he always tells us that whenever there is an emergency, we should call him. He would leave whatever he is doing to attend to us.
Does he take the family out for picnic or sight-seeing?
We embark on family vacations as much as we can. At times, we travel on individual basis with him.
When you were schooling abroad, how often did he visit you?
My father made it mandatory to visit me every month. He cares so much for his family.
Your father cuts the picture of a no-nonsense man. What method does he use to correct any erring child?
I think my father beat me once when I was 11 years old. I cannot remember what he used to beat me then. I asked him to buy me some things when he travelled. When he returned, I asked for the things I told him to buy for me rather than welcoming him. He said that was a wrong attitude that he could not be going up and down, trying to get resources for our future and I would be ordering him like he was my errand boy. He said he would not allow that but that he would rather inculcate enduring values in me. That was the reason I was beaten. I got the message because he explained in love to me what I did wrong. He is a disciplinarian. But ultimately, anything he does to correct us, he does it in love. He will be the first to wake you up to apologise if he realised he wronged you.  You cannot hate a man like that. I cannot remember any time he beat any of us apart from this one. We used to have a cane in our house christened ‘Mr. Do Good.’ It used to be more of my mother’s property than my dad’s.
My father can adjust the life of anybody with just a look. He is a father that will just look at you and you will know that something is out of order and you will adjust. My mother uses both a look and the cane. We are grown-ups now but during our growing up years, she used both as ways of enforcing discipline.
How does he react to any disagreement with your mother?
They hardly disagree on issues because they are so intimate. But on rare occasions, they would sit down and talk it over. They do not discuss such matters with their friends. They also tell us never to take our matters outside because in relationships, and are bound to be disagreements but we should find how to resolve them. They say to us that the strongest chain breaks at its weakest point. We learn from them because they sometimes tell us what one did to offend the other.
How does he relax?              
He barely has as much time as he should to relax. Even if he is at home, there is so much demand on his time. When he does have those rare moments for relaxation, he will be busy reading books. My father can read five books at a time. He is always upgrading his knowledge. He also likes to relax by watching videos.  He loves a good conversation with his family, but he is not given to watching films in cinemas. He likes privacy and he is the same person he is in the church and at home, only that at home, he has no microphone and the pulpit.
Does he encourage his children to be fluent in both Yoruba and English languages the way he is?
We do not speak Yoruba as fluent as our father does. But we have a basic understanding of the language. Each time he wanted to drive in a point, he would speak in Yoruba and translate it for the message to sink in as a Yoruba man.
Was he an influence in the career choice of his children? 
Before we were born, my father prayed about us. God told him that we have different purposes in life. He sees his role as someone to assist us in accomplishing our purposes. My father trained as a lawyer and that prepared him to be a pastor. Whenever he is preaching his messages, he does it in a systematic way as a lawyer. Occasionally, I help him to type his messages and I  notice his progression of thought. When I told him the course I wanted to do he said he knew I would be fine because he prayed for all of us and he was sure the spirit of God would guide us to choose right.
Does he have any special meal?
Yes, he loves amala and ewedu. He also likes fried chicken anytime he is abroad.
What is his best drink?
My father’s best drink is room temperature water because of his voice. He sometimes takes a bottle of coke to accompany the fried chicken.
Does he engage in any sporting activity?
A few years ago he played table tennis.
What is his dressing style?
He has no particular dressing style. He wears what suits an occasion. He wears native attire, corporate and casual wears.
Have you ever wished he slowed down in his life of activism
No, absolutely not. I wish more people will be outspoken like him to address Nigeria’s problems.
Don’t you sometimes fear for his safety considering his vocal nature?     
I think it was in 1999 that he was arrested. I was in London then preparing for A—Levels, if I remember correctly. My mother called me that my father had been detained. I was very excited when I heard the news.
Why did such occurrence excite you?
It is because I have read about the lives of those who live for public good like Nelson Mandela. They paid a price for it. My dad called me later to tell me that if he died then he did not die as somebody I should not be proud of. I told him he made me proud. I am not wishing my father dead because I love him so dearly. His life makes me happy. He trusts absolutely in God and anyone who wants to hurt him must first touch Christ and then approach God. Such a person can then recount how far he or she is able to go.
Have you ever enjoyed some opportunities by virtue of who your father is?
I am not unmindful of the privileges that have come to me by virtue of who my father is. There are privileges. One thing I know is that people can accuse my father of being outspoken. But nobody can say he has ever stolen or defrauded anybody. I feel proud because I do not have to hide my face in shame because he looted a bank or was accused of corruption. He has never done anything immoral.
What is his daily schedule like?
My father has no normal schedule.  There are so many pulls on him as a pastor, businessman, father and activist.
Who are his friends?
My father’s friends are members of his family, some pastors and a lot of young people who are bound to him by purpose and commitment. He does not have friends in the generic sense of the word. But the people I mentioned are his friends.
Does he advise on the kind of friends you keep?
He operates an open-door policy. My father encourages us not to keep our friends away from the house. He tells us to introduce our friends to him. But if he notices that we are treading a path he does not like, he advises us. He is not a dictator.
How close are you to him?
I am extremely close to my father. I can tell him anything.

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