In a recent interview granted by pastor Bakare of Later Rain Assembly where he disclose his style of fatherhood, he said that he used the rod of correction to train his children.
Can you recall your most memorable experience as a father?
The first day I held my first child in my hands after she was delivered; I will never forget. That was the first time I was holding my biological child in my hands – that is an unforgettable moment. That experience happened to me five times and each one remains a delight. There is nothing like being able to look in the eyes of a little child and see that you are holding in your hands a letter you are writing and sending to a future you may not see. Because, whether we like it or not, wherever these children go, they carry not just our DNA in them, but also our name. It requires also the responsibility not to derail them. These children look up to us (parents) as their hero because we are the first world they are encountering. This is why the greatest gift a father can give his daughter or his son is to love their mother.
What unique things did you do as a father?
If you mention changing diapers, I recall that I did that several times with joy. I remember that for my first daughter, my lower lip was her greatest pacifier. She refused to take the natural pacifier. But once I offered her my lip, she would lick and suck it. Up till today, she calls me her pacifier, but not my lip though. She is married. She only used my lip as pacifier when she was under one year.
How would you say fatherhood has changed you?
I think I grew into it, I learnt on the job. My father died when I was two plus but my mother poured herself into me. I was single-handedly raised by a widow and I was an only son between my father and mother. I learnt what it means to be a father and mother at the same time. Fatherhood is an awesome responsibility. Today, I joke with my children, I say a father is a banker produced by nature. He is a permanent automated teller machine, but I’m looking forward to them taking care of me in my old age, not now though. Honestly, there is nothing like a home where both parents know their duties, responsibilities and obligations towards their children. Children raised in a stable environment hardly mix with wrong crowd or become victims of peer pressure.
What would you have loved to do differently?
My first daughter told me a secret. She said when she was much younger, whenever I was about to say goodbye to her before embarking on a trip, she would pretend as if she was asleep. She kept wondering why I had to embark on international ministry –related trips all the time then. She felt I was always travelling. She held it against me for a while until a time came when they (she and her siblings) were in America and Britain for their education and they saw how bills were being paid promptly. I had stored up and set aside enough resources for them over the years. They then realised that it was hard work I was doing for their future. But back to your question, if I had my way, I would reduce my trips, which I’ve done considerably now and stay more with my family because one must never succeed in ministry at the expense of one’s family. I thank God that I realised that early; not losing one’s family and gaining the whole world.
Some African fathers prefer the boy child to the girl child. What is your view on this?
My wife would answer that question. I wanted all my five children to be girls. I see how female children take care of their father. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I told her the Lord revealed to me we would have five children. God answered my prayer twice and answered her prayer thrice. She won. She has three boys and I have two girls.
You mean you wanted all your children to be female?
Yes, to be honest with you, I did.
Are you the type of father that influences his children’s career choices?
I didn’t influence their careers; I created an enabling environment for them. I never dictated to them what to study. We (my wife and I) ensured that we created an enabling environment, gave them the exposure they needed, took them to the best schools within and outside the country. Based on their patterns, they each chose the course they wanted to study.
My first daughter is a pan Africanist; she attended Emory University where she studied political science. She also attended the School of Oriental and African Studies, she majored in African history. She wants to be a lecturer and professor. My second daughter is an interior architect; she has a master’s degree in interior architecture. My first son is a communications director, while my second son is an information technology guru, he also studied in London. My last child who just graduated studied political studies.
Are any of your children following in your footsteps in ministry?
My first son is the media director for the Latter Rain Assembly. He is one of the people responsible for all we do in the media.
Would you have loved your children to be pastors?
They will all serve God in different ways; we don’t all have to be pastors. No one compelled me to do what I’m doing, God called me. I won’t force them into it.
How do you balance being a father, pastor and political figure?
God’s grace is sufficient to do everything he has called you to do. I thank God for grace to do all I’m doing. My children know that once I enter the house that is home moment, family moment – a time I don’t joke with. Everything I’ve done in life has involved my children. I have never done anything that they are not part of. They always know the reason for which I do whatever I do. If what I’m doing is not good for my children, I don’t do it.
While your children were growing, were you strict on how you gave them money?
I was extremely conservative; I was raised to have value for money. My children don’t have an entitlement mentality. They know one has to work hard to succeed in life.
Can you remember the lowest money you gave any of them?
I can give you a clear example. My daughter was in final year in secondary school. She did so well in her studies and was excited about her graduation party. She told me she needed a pair of shoes, bag and gown. I asked her how much she would need to purchase the items; I think she said N50,000 or so. I told her she deserved more than that. I told her to come take N100,000. I put it on the table, she took it and said, ‘thank you daddy.’ As she was about to step out, I asked her to return the money. I told her she should wear what she had at home. I explained to her that she had nice clothes and shoes and that if she started to buy clothes and shoes for every occasion, she would ruin herself in future. Today, that lesson has become an asset to her. My children never spend money anyhow.
How do you discipline your children?
First and foremost, I correct them verbally. If they repeat the same thing a second time, they are corrected with a rod of correction not a rod of vexation. I don’t slap them. My wife has two canes by her bed side called rods of correction – a long and short one. When a child misbehaves, he or she will say how many strokes of cane he or she should receive. After the child is flogged, he or she says thank you sir and ma. I have never slapped my children. The Bible talks about rod of correction.
How tough was the task of raising children?
I am grateful to two women who made the task easy, my wife who turned her back on her banking career to stay with our kids and the second person is my mother. She ensured her values were communicated to them. God helped us. It is a miracle to raise a proper child because of peer pressure. A child you do not train properly will sell the houses you are building. Fatherhood is an awesome responsibility. If you can’t raise a child; don’t bring them into the world. And the responsibility of training children shouldn’t be passed to mothers. Fathers should train their children. The role a father plays in the life of a child is different from a mother’s role. I’m pained when I see homes without fathers.
Do you help your wife with house chores?
We have cooks and stewards to assist. But when we were much younger, I used to assist her with chores. I got into the bathroom one day and saw that she had soaked her underwear waiting for me to finish having my bath. Before she got into the bathroom, I washed everything for her. If she can help me with mine, why shouldn’t I help with hers?
How do you spoil her?
After I proposed to my wife, another man was also interested in her. One day, I went to her house on foot while the other man drove to her house in a Mercedes Benz, but she still chose me. On one of my trips to Germany, I bought her a Mercedes Benz. I personalised the number plate for her and presented it to her. I told her I appreciated her accepting me when I had no car.
You have been married for a long time. What is the secret of a successful marriage?
To be honest with you, I have not been married for a long time. Our marriage is only 33 years, it is short. I married my wife when I was 30. I told her I would be with her for 60 years and then leave the planet and tell her to continue (smiles). But the secret to having a successful marriage is mutual respect, trustful give and take and understanding of each other’s needs. Marriage is not man’s idea. It is God’s idea.