By Dr. Alafia Oluwa
A prophecy is a message that a messenger claims to have received from a divine authority for onward transmission to others or society. Evidence abounds in almost every culture across the world of instances of prophets who gave prophecies. The activities of such prophets or messenger usually involved revelation of divine will or inspiration for solving problems facing individuals or societies. It could also take the form of foretelling future realities.
In Christian theology prophecy is believed to be a gift of the Holy Spirit and it is believed to be a supernatural gift to receive and convey a message from the Most High and the purpose of such activity is to edify, exhort and comfort the hearers. Prophetic activities also reveal or predict things that are otherwise hidden in order to restore truth and bring about justice in the society. The purpose of prophecy is for the benefit of the society and not just the person who possesses the gift.
However, prophets whose intentions are self centred or evil have been around even from biblical times and even till date. In Nigeria today, prophecies and prophets of all sorts have become common at almost every corner nationwide with so called prophets dishing out prophecies of all sorts to an obviously enthralled and mesmerized public. Who does not want to know what tomorrow holds? The media has also given flight to these prophets and their prophecies as source for juicy news stories. The more outrageous the prophecy, the better the ability to draw readers’ attention for circulation sales, if you know what I mean.
There have been documented cases of persons who genuinely prophesied or fore told future events so I am not saying that prophets don’t or have not existed. But one notes that there is a rise in false prophets and by extension false prophecies across the nation and in my opinion that this is not too good for the church and the society.
The rise of false prophets and by extension false prophecies is chipping away the church’s historic moral credibility and public reputation.
It is becoming obvious to any right thinking person that values that used to mark religious leaders or prophets in time past are fast vanishing.
Important characteristics such as simplicity, humility, compassion, selflessness and a servant spirit are now being replaced with arrogance, self-promotion and material enlargement at whatever cost.
In fact a Nigerian church elder, Mathew Omojaiye noted sometime in a treatise on the subject matter that, “previously, values such as generosity and charity, accompanied by frugal life style were self-evident markers of good church leaders”. But is the story the same today? There is an obvious abuse of the prophetic in the Nigerian public square.
The biblical proclamation by Jesus Christ, the leader of the Church that Wheat and Tares will always be in the Church has turned out to be very true in Nigeria today. And today all kinds of prophets and prophecies run riot!
In a nation of overtly religious and superstitious people who in their search for spiritual realities and earthly good believe that religious intervention is needed at almost every point, the present reality of all sorts of prophecies from many self-acclaimed “Servants of the lord” is inevitable. In any case, one notes that many of those who claim to be prophets and engage in prophecies in Nigeria today are gaining material and reputation benefits from the activity. Many of the self-acclaimed prophets or clerics are taking advantage of the numerous challenges facing Nigerians from all angles.
As things stand now, there is an ever present temptation for even those who were originally truly called so to speak that because of possible benefits that come with the activity of being a prophet both in term of fame and material acquisitions to be side tracked.
It is possible for those who have served well in the past to loose guard and if care is not taken to become purveyors of false prophecies. Pastor Tunde Bakare, the senior pastor of Latter Rain Assembly (Now called Citadel Global Community Church) is a man I had hitherto respected but over the years I am beginning to wonder what is going on. His activities may well be poisoning the public water so to speak and it is time that the public be put on notice to beware of him and his so called prophecies especially as it has to do with politics.
Time and again he has been dishing out prophecies especially concerning the political social space.
Unfortunately, quite a number here turned out to be false. In Deuteronomy 18:22 The Bible says: if what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed”.
Bakare it seems has clearly spoken presumptuously severally now and has not in any instance admitted speaking presumptuously to the best of my knowledge, which makes the matter serious. Especially given the respect he carries within and outside Christian circles.
In an interview with the Punch newspaper in 2006, Bakare had said the following: “let me tell you the truth by the spirit of God, neither OBJ, Atiku, IBB and this tall one, Buhari are not part of the new. They are part of the old that is decaying, that old one is passing away. The new is emerging and these ones are not part of the new”.
Yet just barely five years later, the same Bakare accepted to be on the same presidential ticket in the 2011 election with Muhammadu Buhari who he had prophesied was part of Nigeria’s decaying past. Did the Holy Spirit lie to Tunde Bakare? Or did Bakare lie against the Holy Spirit?
Till date I am not aware that Bakare has given any reasonable explanations for his volte face voice in turning round to be the running mate to a man he said the Holy Spirit had told him to tell us was part of our nation’s decaying past. Interestingly, his strongest defence was you won’t believe it! That the he heard the voice of God to so do! But I believe that God is not a God of confusion.
It beats me how the same God that told Bakare that Buhari is part of Nigeria’s rotten past, would now insist on placing the same Buhari as president in 2011 and Bakare was to deputise for him? Was it that God wanted the decay to continue? The scenario creates questions begging for answers.
Earlier on in March, 1999 Bakare had prophesied that the prophetic axe would fall on the then president-elect Chief Olusegun Obasanjo before his swearing in. His words; “Rejoice not oh land, or your joy will be temporary. For I am bringing the nation – Nigeria, the rulers, the priests and the prophets there to my threshing floor. I will judge Saul and his comrades and after I have finished my purging, then I will restore to you permanent joy. Obasanjo is not your messiah. He is king Agag and the prophetic axe will fall upon his head before May 29”.
But Obasanjo was not only sworn into office but went on to complete two tenures as president. After his swearing-in Obasanjo against whom the prophecy was made reportedly told a gathering of clergy men to call Bakare to order or else he would become a man of the cloth himself! In any case, Obasanjo is still very much alive as I write this. Not only that, Obasanjo was no King Agag in any way or form. In fact with hindsight today, whatever one may accuse the Obasanjo administration of, no one can deny the great contributions of his administration to Nigeria’s development.
You cannot compare the Obasanjo years to what we are witnessing under President Muhammadu Buhari, a man to whom Bakare is now well pleased and whose administration he has praised to the high heavens at almost every point and in cases of obvious crude incompetence, Bakare has given lame excuses for the Buhari administration.
For instance, when against all known leadership principles Buhari failed to hit the ground running by picking ministers at the beginning of his first term, Bakare in faraway Canada was telling international community that Buhari failed to appoint ministers because he met an empty treasury. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Jonathan handed power over to Buhari and left $2.07 billion in the Excess Crude Account, $29.6 billion in Foreign Reserves and $5.2 Billion from dividend payment from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company. And for a so called man of God to so blatantly lie in the public space that there was an empty treasury gives great cause for concern.
Even on that issue it was clear to me that Buhari was already overwhelmed by the demands of that office immediately he was sworn in hence his inability to appoint ministers. Buhari to whom Bakare is today beholden not only ran the nation’s economy into recession, his lack luster leadership as divided Nigeria like never before and insecurity has gone to the roof tops.
Of all the prophecies of Pastor Tunde Bakare, the one that has baffled me the most is one of his that I never knew about until recently. There is this video available on social media for anyone who wants to see it. In it he prophesized thus: “Take it to the mountain top if you have never heard it before. I am saying it to you this morning in the scheme of things as far as politics of Nigeria is concerned, President Muhammadu Buhari is number 15, and yours sincerely, and I’m number 16. I have never said that to you before, I make it plain this morning. Nothing can change it; he is number 15, I am number 16.”
He continued, “To this end I was born and for this purpose come out into the world, I prepared you for this for more than 30 years. That is why he wants to run in 2019. I do not oppose, he is still number 15. It is when he steps out that I step in. His assignment is that of Moses to take Nigeria to River Jordan, but he can’t cross it, it will take a Joshua to cross to the other side and begin the distribution of resources to the people of this nation.”
At another instance later at another of his church meetings, Bakare announced that God instructed him to go return to politics to lead Nigeria to prosperity. Hear him “I heard the Lord say to me, politics is not over for your, there is still one thing left for you to do run for president”.
Putting all these prophecies from Bakare as it has to do with the 2023 presidential elections, one sees a clear ‘message’ from God if we are to believe Bakare and the message is that God has told him to contest the 2023 presidential election and that he will win it. At least Bakare can’t step in after Buhari if he doesn’t win the elections?
As I earlier said I was shocked when I heard about these so called prophecies from Bakare. Of course, Bakare as a Nigerian has fundamental human rights to run for any office in the land but to do so through “God said” is akin to a bachelor going is a spinster and telling her “God said you are my wife!” we all know how idiotic such a situation usually is!
And again I remember in 2011 when Bakare was running mate to President Buhari his strongest defence as I earlier noted was that he heard from God. Incidentally, another televangelist like him, Pastor Chris Okotie of Household of God Church also in Lagos also said he heard from God at the time and he prophesied that God told him (Okotie) to run for the same office and that he (Okotie) would win. Neither Bakare’s tag team with Buhari then nor Okotie won the elections. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan won the 2011 Presidential elections. So what do we make out of their prophecies?
Jesus warned us to, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-16b). To beware of false prophets means to be on alert to discern what is being said.
Those who utter false prophecies take advantage of the fact that many people are not abreast with clear biblical truths. Except one knows the biblical truth, one can easily be misled or deceived.
Bakare admirers may point to prophesies he had given that came to pass in the time past but one notes that was long ago now. As I earlier said it is possible for those who began with God to lose guard and veer into realm of false prophecies when they get carried away. And this to me is a danger to Bakare, the church and society.
The way Bakare is going about things today suggests he may have crossed the line into the territory of false prophecies. This is especially regarding his latest self-centered and self-serving prophecy concerning talking over power from Buhari. The scripture warns in 2 Peter 2:1 – 2, “But false prophets arose among the people ….and because of them the way of truth will be reviled”.
Reverend Chris Okotie did his bit in uttering prophecies that turned out to be false. Pastor Tunde Bakare to my mind should retrace his steps and not project the way of truth in a negative light. He has done enough damage already. Bakare should apologize to the public concerning these prophesies he uttered that turned out to be presumptuous.
Obasanjo is still alive and no prophetic axe fell on him. The Buhari he earlier said was part Nigeria’s decaying past is President today and this with Bakare’s wholehearted support. Unfortunately, Buhari has been a disaster upon the nation.
There is a need for people especially in church circles to increasingly raise the issue of false prophecies and to search the Scriptures and to guide society in the right direction. There is an urgent need for the church in Nigeria to promote genuine discipleship and biblical literacy that will empower Christians and the society such the church and society will not be held hostage by “celebrity” cleric/prophets and their prophecies whether such be for political ends or to promote their image consciousness, self-aggrandizement, or enlargement of their personal ministry influence at whatever cost.
Dr Alafia Oluwa writes from Akure, Ondo State.