Sometime before the Anambra State Gubernatorial Election of 2010, I was privileged to have audience with Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, the ferocious catholic pastor of Enugu, with a gubernatorial aspirant. His residence which stood just atop the Adoration Ground was quaint with locally fabricated heavy iron doors built for maximum security. He was quite a genial, gentle fellow at close range, almost the opposite of what he posed in public.
Before then, I had seen him from a distance as a priest troubled by the happenings of his time and want to do something about it. When I eventually met him, my views didn’t change much. He still looked troubled and took time off to complain to us about his troubles with Chimaroke Nnamani who was Governor of Enugu State when he ( Mbaka) came to prominence, riding the crest of their dangerous encounters. He took quite some time to tell us about his travails and how God remained faithful in keeping him alive. I got the hint of the necessity of the iron doors and stole a quick glance at it again.
The gubernatorial aspirant, who I went with to his Enugu residence, introduced me to him as special assistant to His Excellency, Senator Ken Nnamani when the latter was Senate President. Mbaka picked up from there and in pitying tone, narrated how he once met my former principal, Senator Ken Nnamani, at the airport, and how lonely he was, having been deserted by the hangers-on who rode around with him with sirens and long convoys when the erstwhile Senate President was in power. The impression I got was that he really took personal interest in political office holders, to be able to compare the estate of Ken Nnamani in and out of power in such detailed manner. Of cause the idea was not to denigrate the ace legislator but he was really worried about him and other office holders who are held hostage when in power and left orphans when out of power.
My heart took a picture. I recall that while we were driving in, so many seats of different hues – wooden, metal and plastic – were scattered at Adoration Ground standing just beneath us, bearing the telltale signs of the huge crowds that must have gathered there the night before.
I could see clearly that Mbaka is a very passionate and compassionate person and leads quite an intense life. In our sharing that faithful Saturday, he had also complained he was finding it difficult reaching out to people beyond the Adoration Ground where the faithfuls usually gathered every Friday to listen to him to receive healing and succor. I told him all he needed do was embrace the internet and that way have his sermons online in minutes and reach to the end of the world. He was happy about the recommendation and even asked if I could coordinate it. I could not because that went with the said Anambra State Governorship Election. My candidate fell along the way and I returned to Abuja sulking.
As a Catholic Priest, Fr. Mbaka has been quite zealous and pro-masses – a priest of the people. That way, he developed quite a cult of followership in Enugu and beyond. He has remained a vociferous preacher. In a country where ignorance, poverty, superstition and so on are so rife, any radical tint to any hue of religion will always thrive, so Fr. Mbaka’s Adoration family easily grew in leaps and bounds.
For years, the Priest has shown himself a gifted preacher and even a musician. As a musician, I had my doubts that he should have ventured into music at all. But his followers are many enough to keep his records going and fairly popular regardless of their general bland and barely inspiring nature. Initially, I had feared he would end in the same fate as the Nollywood stars who ventured into music and more recently, into politics, veering far away from their natural callings and came to grief.
Mbaka did not stop in music. He has been drawn into the yearly pervasive predictions of several 419 pastors who cannot predict accurately when the Chibok girls would be coming! I felt quite touched when I saw Mbaka’s claim that a pigeon which he set free could not fly and interpreted it to mean that the visit of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan and Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu had invoked a bad omen. In fact, that the fatigued pigeon failing to fly meant President Jonathan should not contest, and that way, the President would honourably exit power or leave in disgrace.
Fr. Mbaka has then come a full circle – a preacher, a musician and now a prophet.
For a moment, let us examine Mbaka’s prophetic claim. He said it was a spiritual drama he carried out to gain the questionable insight. I still do not know why he chose to describe the exercise with the word, ‘drama’. Prophetic exercises are no dramas; they a serious business for those who follow the scriptures. He set free 4 pigeons and the fattest of them all did not fly and this triggered his interpretation. What about the other 3 three that flew away? What did it portend? They flew away with the luck of President Jonathan in the 2015 polls?
The Holy Bible had warned against this kind of meddling; St. Paul who foresaw this kind of thing happening warned the disciples and Christians of his day not to covet Prophesy if it was not their calling. St. Paul made it clear that Christians are gifted differently and those who are called to the different ministries should develop their gifts and use them to glory God and edify humanity. Today, fake pastors all claim to be prophets and using their lies to confuse the people, reap them off and lead many to their early grave.
Mbaka’s prophetic claim, without a shred of doubt, was not a prophesy at all and the interpretation being giving such reckless prediction that unfortunate Adoration Night to mean so is therefore spurious and wild romanticism. As said, Mbaka’s calling is not prophesy. Though the ordination of a Catholic priest embeds prophetic powers, the actual manifestation does not lend itself in all the priests. We all know what prophesy is and what it is not. The man who saw tomorrow, Nostradamus, even though he was not a Priest, is an example of a prophet in modern times and Mbaka is nowhere near him.
Many can recall that Fr. Mbaka once tried his hands on prophesy by prophesying that Chimaroke Nnamani would not win his reelection in 2003 and yet he won with a landslide. Soon, Mbaka’s prediction about President Jonathan’s chances in the 2015 Presidential polls will end up like that of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani.
Some have also said what he said should be taken as an advice and not as prophesy. This is wrong because Mbaka could have done so in that manner if he intended it not to be partisanship. But even if it is advice, why should a Catholic Priest ask a sitting President to abdicate because of terrorists who are being supported by those promoting insurgency as a means of getting to power? More importantly, can Mbaka guarantee that other terrorists will not spring up even if Boko Haram ceases hostilities if Jonathan leaves as Mbaka demanded?
One sincerely believes Fr. Mbaka should retrace his steps and take to heart the wise counsel of the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence John Cardinal Onaiyekan who said Christians should simply be advised by their pastors to vote according to their conscience. Better still, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka has shown an excellent example of how Priests can participate in politics and help shape the society without demeaning or ridiculing priesthood.
Hoodwinking Catholics nay Christians to vote in a particular manner by dropping the name of the Holy Spirit or claiming to be under unction is not in the character of Catholic priesthood. Fr. Mbaka should therefore be encouraged to regain perspective and remain a preacher he is and not dabble into prophesy and politics. He does not need to be a Prophet to gain and retain the respect of his teaming admirers, which I am one of.
- Law Mefor, Forensic Psychologist and Journalist, is National Coordinator, Transform Nigeria movement (TNM), Abuja; email: email@example.com; Tel.: +234-803-787-2893