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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Rev. Fr. Mbaka, Where Art Thou? (Part 1) – By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR



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“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you”– “Matthew 6:33”. No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and love the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon”Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13.
As a Christian of the Catholic bent, and a Knight of the Order of St. Mulumba (KSM), I take these words very serious. This is why I am not too comfortable with prosperity evangelization by Pastors who use religion as Karl Marx’s “Opium of the Masses”, while amassing stupendous wealth, aircraft, gold trinkets, and fast cars, from the pains, pangs, blood and sweat of their labouring congregation, some of whom trek home or hike “okada” bike after each service.
The above scriptures rang in my brain when I read of the cries, nay, moans, of Rev. Fr. Ejike Camillus Anthony Ebenezer Mbaka, the controversial Adoration Centre, Enugu, Man, whose prophesies and utterances have titled more towards politics and the mundane, than the celestial. He was widely reported to have cried out after his transfer from his Adoration Centre, Enugu, where he has been for many years, to Emene, on the outskirts of Enugu.
The Rev. Father who had, prior to the 2015, elections first adopted Patience and her husband, Jonathan, before hearing another voice of God to adopt President Buhari, had moaned uncontrollably, as follows:
“I am going to suffer because I have no place to keep the Adoration ministry’s assets. I know I’m going to suffer. Fortunately, it is going to happen in the month of lent. So, I am going to use my exit here as a Lenten observance but Jesus said it all in John 16:20 to his apostles that you will be sorrowful and the world will be rejoicing but very soon I will turn your sorrow to joy….
“The quantum of the assets of the Adoration Ministry is the only thing I am bothered about for now. Where am I going to keep them? I am going to stay in one small room that has only one small bed, one small table, little toilet and bathroom. So where am I going to keep all the adoration assets? My clothing and books I can keep in the car or somebody’s house but where will I keep these assets that I have given to the Catholic church of Enugu? But I say may God take the glory and whoever that has offended me, I have forgiven”.
Forgiven who? For what “offence”?. For being transferred from one place of worship to another, as is customary in the Catholic Church? Good God!! How patient can you be!
Father Ejike Mbaka who was ordained on the 29th of July, 1995, has held sway at the Adoration Centre, Enugu, since his ordination, over twenty years ago. I could not therefore believe I was reading him right when he whined and squirmed like a child whose candy had been snatched from him by a big uncle. Did I hear him right?. He had reigned supreme like a king in his, wait for the name, “Christ the King Parish”.
To be a Christian is to be Christ-like. Jesus Christ only wore sandals, with a loin cloth thrown over his shoulders. Indeed, this savior of the world after whom the Gregorian calendar is named upon his crucifixion at the youthful age of 33 (he was a mere bachelor), had no particular place of abode. He was itinerant, like the Fulani Cattle herdsmen, nomadically traversing the nooks and crannies of Judea, Galilee, Samaria, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Bethsaida, etc. His food was olive, locust, date and honey. He had no access to fried rice, chicken salad, meat pie, chicken lollipop, aubergine, potatoes casserole, spaghetti and cheese, Jollof Rice with French chicken, hamburgers, shawarma, etc; nor red wine, brandy or juice, to top it all.
In Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58, he declared his helplessness and near orphanage, “Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head?” Did Father Mbaka ever read these passages? So, he was even living comfortably in a duplex, furnished with the best that modern amenities can give, while his flock slept on bare floor at the adoration grounds, with many of them, having no roof over their heads?
No wonder, stormy musical petrel and lyrical composer extra-ordinaire, late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (of blessed memory), had waxed lyrical, when he sang: “Archibishop na miliki, Popu na enjoyment, imamu na gbaladun la lau, la lau, Archibishop de enjoy, la lau, Popu self de enjoy, la lau, my broda wetin you think…”
I had expected to hear the Revered Fr. Mbaka cry or moan over deserting his flock, who would no longer have a shepherd. But, he was obviously more concerned with his personal comfort, and mundane matters of where he would keep the adoration property. This is quite sad. Is Christendom being reduced to a mere terrestrial matter, rather than a celestial one? What happened to Matthew 6:33?
To be sure, the Catholic Church is built on implicit discipline, reverence to constituted authorities, canon laws and code of Spartan-like conduct. Rev. Mbaka, like any other priest in the Catholic Church, is subject to the laws of the Catholic Church, which include being subject to transfer to any place, office or station within the Diocese. The Catholic Church is both universal and apostolic. It has set standards, rules, tenets, behavior and acculturation processes. Upon ordination, a priest takes the vows of celibacy, poverty, chastityand obedience. It is voluntary. It is at the heart and soul of the Catholic Church.
To the best of my knowledge, as a Catholic, I have not seen a priest staying at one station for over three years, or maximum of five years. They are usually transferred invariably, to smaller and more needy worship centres to spread the holy gospel to the ignorant, sinners and unbelievers. It has never been a five star hotel issue.
To think that the priest had cornered the Adoation centre for over 20 years is therefore quite shocking to me. Why did the Catholic Church, Enugu Archdiocese, bend its rules to accommodate one person, no matter his prophetic prowess? It was self imolatory. That is why he now saw Christ the King Parish as his personal estate and permanent home. The present Bishop of Auchi Diocese, His Lordship, Bishop G.G Dunia, was at my Iviukwe Parish for less than three years, between 1996 and 1998. He was posted to head a newly carved out Okpekpe Parish, on a hilly terrain village. He did not grumble. He went joyfully. It was while he was there that the Pope in Rome, Pope John Paul II, anointed him the Bishop of Auchi Diocese. Like King David the shepherd boy, the Lord discovered him.
I do not want to go into his much touted prophesies and business empire. But, I did read, and remember vividly, that prior to the 2015 elections, Dame Patience Jonathan had visited Mbaka, who assured her that her husband was coasting home to victory in the presidential elections. Castigating critics who felt that GEJ had not done enough to rescue the Boko Haram abducted 200 Chibok School girls, as being on a mission of distraction, Fr. Mbaka absolved GEJ thus, “Jonathan is not a kidnapper”. It was later said that his inability to connect with Patience by phone after serial futile attempts so enraged him to the extent of switching loyalty to President Buhari, describing GEJ as a case of “Goodluck to bad luck”. He strolled imperiously into Aso Rock Villa, recently, with both PMB and VP Osibanjo rolling out the red carpet for him.
It is said, that the fiery priest sits atop a thriving business conglomerate, ranging from education and industries, producing a customized recharge card, bottled and “pure” (satchet) water, yoghurt, olive oil, vegetable oil, all under the business name, Aquarapha. I also learnt that he runs a recycling company that produces AMEN exercise books, prayer books, stickers, pamphlets, posters and other stationeries. Are these material things? What he called adoration assets and properties?
It is gratifying and heartwarming to see President Buhari hand over the reins of power to VP Yemi Osibanjo, during his five days absence abroad for medical checkup. This is as it should be in a Constitutional democracy such as we operate. Had late Yar’Adua done this (may his soul rest in peace), Nigeria would not have tottered on the precipice in 2010, leading to the invocation of the “doctrine of necessity” by the Senate. PMB, Kudos for this bold, democratic and constitutional step. May God grant PMB good health to tackle Nigeria’s multifarious challenges. Amen.
Are you all reading and digesting this Sunday sermon on the mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR and awaiting part 2 next week?

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