Bakare said it was sad that with last Tuesday shooting of #EndSARS peaceful protesters at Lekki tollgate in Lagos, the military had introduced a blood stain to Nigeria’s green-white-green national flag.
In a state-of-the-nation address delivered during the Sunday service in his church in Lagos, Bakare called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to “ensure that those who ordered armed soldiers to fire on innocent citizens are fished out and made to face the full weight of the law.”
In the address titled, ‘The building blocks of nationhood: A blueprint for the new Nigeria,’ Bakare said the soldiers should be made to face trial “under international legal standards.”
He said, “The Nigerian landscape is filled to the brim with the blood of its citizens. By its brutal repression of unarmed protesters, the Nigerian state has blood on its hands.
“That agents of the Nigerian state would resort to using live ammunition to silence fellow citizens, fellow human beings, is heart-rending. Their blood will yet speak, as truly as there is a God.”
The cleric described the widespread #EndSARS protests as a symptom of Nigeria’s foundational problems that had persisted through different administrations, saying with the youth finally awake to demand a better country, Nigeria had now begun to witness “the crescendo of an era and the beginning of another.”
Bakare, who said the real meaning of SARS is State-Aided Robbery Squad, predicted that #EndSARS protest by youths would continue unless the foundational problems were addressed.
He said, “No degree of brutal repression of protesters can quench the flame of protests in the hearts and minds of the Nigerian people. Your bullets may drive them off the streets, but your bullets cannot pierce their spirits or puncture their resilience.
“One can understand why the younger generation would so heavily indict preceding generations. At independence, we inherited a promising nation, but we are bequeathing a predatory nation to the young generation. We inherited a nation whose structural foundations were built on principles of true federalism, a nation in which the diverse groups had the freedom to determine their destinies, but we are bequeathing a unitary nation, federal only in name, in which sub-national expressions are suppressed by an overbearing centre.
“We inherited a banner without stain, but we have introduced a new colour to our green-white-green: blood red.”
He called for a new Nigerian culture where “government must jettison the leadership model of the biblical Pharaoh and Rehoboam, who ruined their nations through obstinacy.”
Bakare said, “Leaders must begin to listen to the people and show empathy to their plight. We need sensitive leaders who are not ashamed to shed tears with the wounded and who can tell the broken, ‘Your pain is my pain, and I will do everything in my power to lift your burden.’”
However, he condemned the destruction of public infrastructure and looting by hoodlums, who took advantage of the protracted protests.
He said, “Rather than destroy, we must build; rather than revel in attacks on tangible and intangible infrastructure, from buses and police stations to palaces and state-owned cyber assets, we must protect our common patrimony. Instead of accepting a status quo that appears to leave us no choice but to go through the backdoor, we must build enduring edifices of open governance using such bricks as the Freedom of Information Act. Our conduct should at all times be moral, ethical and legal, moderated by the reality that there are no shortcuts in nation-building.”
As part of steps to reform the Nigeria Police Force, Bakare proposed that Ordinary National Diploma from a recognised polytechnic should be minimum qualification for recruitment into the police.
He also advocated a restructuring of the National Youth Service Corps to make it “an optional two-year programme, with the first year spent on military training for our young people and the second year spent on agro-entrepreneurship.”