A coalition of clerics on Friday lambasted the senior pastor of Citadel Global Church, Tunde Bakare, for allegedly presenting a ”’false’ narrative about how Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, was killed by coupists on January 15, 1966.
Bakare had in a sermon in his church claimed that the coupists, whom he described as Igbos, removed Balewa’s turban and forced him to drink wine before shooting him dead.
Bakare also alleged that Balewa cursed Igbos and said they would never rule Nigeria.
However, the clerics in a statement debunked the story and said Bakare was a mere 12-year-old boy at the time the incident occurred.
The claims have generated outrage with many describing Bakare as a purveyor of falsehood and sinister motives against Igbos.
Titled: Bakare’s false story of Balewa’s curse on Igbos,’ the statement was issued by Apostle (Dr.) Solomon Chukwuemeka Okorie, International President, CAIM and Rev. Dr. Francis Ujunwa Simeon, International Secretary, CAIM..
It reads: “In the last few days, both the social and mainstream media are awash with the controversial story, concocted by Pastor Tunde Bakare, that the Igbos were cursed by the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first Prime Minister of Nigeria.
In a sermon in his Church, Pastor Bakare narrated how the 1966 coupists removed Balewa’s religious turban, forced him, a teetotaler and a Muslim, to drink wine, poured some on his head and shot him. Consequently, the dying Balewa cursed the Igbos asserting that they would never rule Nigeria forever.
Pastor Bakare’s version of the 1966 military coup is weird, spurious, sinister and mischievous. It is a rehash of timeworn, stereotyped conspiracy theory of the 1966 Igbo coup, ostensibly carried out to entrench Igbo hegemonic domination of the Nigerian polity. By adding false, gory details of Balewa’s death (previously unheard of), dressed in religious garb, Pastor Bakare is set on mischief against the Igbo nation.
None of the eyewitness accounts, nor the memoirs of the military officers involved in the coup and counter coup of 1966, ever mentioned that Balewa cursed the Igbos. Why should Pastor Bakare who was obviously a minor at that time, fabricate this odious red herring at this stage of Nigerian history? Even if he heard it from the grapevine, did he verify it from eyewitnesses before amplifying it in the public domain? If sued in a competent court of law, can Pastor Bakare summon an eyewitness or present an audio-visual record to corroborate his weird tale? Why should a man of Bakare’s standing, a pastor and a lawyer, publish such an imaginary and inciting story in the public domain? These are questions Pastor Bakare must answer.
God has blessed Alaigbo with an impressive array of great and highly anointed men and women of God. How can Pastor Tunde Bakare think he is the Moses to break the curse over Ndigbo? Pastor Tunde Bakare should mention who amongst the great Igbo ministers that was with him in Owerri at Imo Concord hotel to break the curse or who invited him?
Pastor Tunde Bakare should also explain to his listeners the steps he took in breaking the curse and why mentioning it now after breaking it years back. We need answers and explanations.
Although known for his loquacity and controversy, Pastor Bakare really put his foot in his mouth this time around. He knows full well that this fake news could reopen old wounds among the Northern elders, wound the sensibilities of the Northern youths, stir up interethnic strife and overheat the polity. The possible reverberations of this unguarded statement are endless.
As a minister, Pastor Bakare, in good conscience, ought to know the characteristics of a curse. Contrary to his opinion, the Igbos are one of the most blessed ethnic groups in the country. Rising from the ashes of the civil war with £20 or less, God has blessed the Igbos with uncommon financial prosperity, abundance of world-class human capital making waves in all spheres of life even in advanced countries, unequalled transformation of Igbo villages through self-effort and the population explosion of the Igbos despite the pogrom of the war years. If any person does not acknowledge the supernatural hand of God on the Igbos, then such a person is spiritually blind. In the light of the foregoing, can Pastor Bakare, in good conscience, think or believe that the Igbos are cursed?
What could be Pastor Bakare’s motive for trumpeting this false narrative at a time when the Igbos are clamouring for the Nigerian presidency on grounds of equity and justice? Why is he trying to drive a wedge into the rapprochement between the Igbos and North at this critical time on the eve of 2023?
As a presidential aspirant, Pastor Bakare has a vested interest in 2023 presidential election. It is reasonable to assume that he wants to pit the North against the Igbos in order to jeopardize their chances of clinching the presidency so that the coast will be clear for him and his region! This is an underhand political tactics unseemly for a servant of God! But he has failed!
We call on the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria to sanction Pastor Bakare for these false and inciting utterances unbecoming of a minister of God.
Pastor Bakare must unreservedly apologize to the Igbos upon whom he has cast a slur.
We must place on record that there was nothing like an ‘Igbo coup’ in 1966 as falsely peddled by some mischievous tribal jingoists. There was no time the Igbos agreed as a nation to overthrow Balewa’s government and install an Igbo Prime Minister. From the published memoirs of the coupists, and the findings by political scientists and historians, the organizers of the coup were patriotic, albeit exuberant youths, from different ethnic groups who wanted a regime change because of the corruption and the parlous state of affairs at that time. It is true that many of them were Igbo officers but there was no tribal agenda. Their plan was to release Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Yoruba man, from prison and install him as the new Prime Minister so that he could fix the problems of the country then. But unfortunately they did not achieve their objective before the coup was foiled. So, It was not a tribal coup with tribal motives as perceived by some elements who capitalized on the unfortunate event to whip up sentiments against the Igbos. That’s the historical truth.
So, we assert on good authority, that nobody cursed the Igbos. The Igbos are overwhelmingly blessed by God. May His name be glorified forever.
Pastor Bakare spoke out of the figment of his own warped imagination for political motives. He wants to sow seeds of discord between Ndigbo and their Northern brothers for his selfish political interests.
In conclusion, our Northern compatriots and all Nigerians and the international community should ignore Bakare’s weird and fictitious narrative because he lacks prophetic integrity and his words cannot be trusted. He has an antecedent of failed prophecies. He prophesied that Obasanjo’s regime would end abruptly, but it did not. He told the world that God asked him to contest for the presidency, yet he did not win. A true prophet is one whose prophecies come to pass. His new prophecy is that he will succeed Buhari. Let’s wait and see. He should be ignored by all and sundry.
God bless Ndigbo!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!”