“I am just ashamed that something like that is happening. But I don’t blame Father Mbaka, I blame those who believe in him.”
Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Public Relations Officer (PRO), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern States and FCT Chapter, Reverend Joseph Hayab, has blamed those who besiege prophets, seeking healings and miracles, believing that they are all of God.
Hayab spoke against the backdrop of the controversy that occurred at the Adoration Ministries Enugu, Nigeria headed by Father Ejike Mbaka who tried to compel former Anambra State governor and running mate to Atiku Abubakar in the 2019 presidential election under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to make a donation at a bazaar organized by the church.
He also lambasted the presidential candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari and that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, saying that none of them is good enough to take charge of Nigeria’s affairs.
In an interview with Sunday Sun, Rev. Hayab said the recycling of old hands and age are big factors against Buhari and Atiku candidature, adding that a dark horse, much younger than the two major candidates may emerge president in 2019.
Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka of the Enugu Catholic Adoration Centre has been denied by the Catholic Church for trying to politicize and commercialise his prophecy. What is your reaction?
Where a prophet begins to take the glory to himself, then you question his prophecy. People today are so confused and gullible that they think anybody who prays for you and you are healed is from God. Or anybody who tells you he knows the story of your family, you think that such person is from heaven. There are soothsayers, who can heal you, but they are not from God, there are soothsayers who can tell you about your future, that are not from God. As the Bible preacher, there is a story of a young girl in the Bible who can tell you about your future. There are Apostles from God, listen to them. But the spirit that was using the girl was not a spirit from God. The people who used her were commercializing it because if she said such things, she would be given money. So, Saint Paul said if the spirit is removed from her, it becomes a crisis. So, when people get carried away by a preacher or someone who calls himself whatever because he heals, it does not mean he is from God. Now, when you begin to demand money from the president because you said you made him the president, what is the difference between you and a soothsayer? So, I am just ashamed that something like that is happening. But I don’t blame Father Mbaka, I blame those who believe in him, but I am happy with the Catholic Church because it is one of those churches that I respect, I cherish Catholic Church, they have taken their stand, they are not going to tolerate that kind of rubbish. If you are building camp or centre, ask those who came there, whom God has blessed to donate to you. President Buhari is just a candidate; he does not belong to your faith. There are many Christians and Muslims who made Buhari president, he has not given them anything. I think some of these things are quite laughable and shameful. But the Catholic Church has done what is right. People must test whether a spirit is of God or devil. I am praying for Father Mbaka that God will give him eyes to serve as a priest and not using his position to serve the devil and mislead the people.
The 2018 is gradually coming to an end, what is your appraisal of the year in view of insecurity in the country, particularly in the North?
You know that the year has been very tough, tough year in terms of security challenges; kidnapping cases, killing of so many prominent persons, the killing of Agwom Adara in Kaduna, the drama surrounding the killing of an Army General. So, when you look at some of the events, they are actually events that are painful, sorrowful, regrettable, and unfortunate, which we wished will never happen again.
Though so many people died, but you begin to wonder what is wrong with our security network, what are those things that we have not been doing right about our security system. All these things happened without anything tangible being done about them to put fear in some people that what they have done was evil. The year actually started with the killing of the Chief of Numana in Kaduna State on the eve of the new year, and the killing has been consistent throughout the year. It has been a very bad year; economically there is no good story to tell, coupled with the political activities, we look with fear and how safe are we as we move so deeper into the election year. But even when there is no political activities, people were not safe, so where is the guarantee that we are safe in the coming year under the watch of our security chiefs. There is nothing to write home about this.
It is believed that Christians suffered more death, so how worried are you that most of the victims of insecurity in the North are mostly CAN members?
Well, sometimes when we begin to look at these issues as ours, we begin to do a divide; people that were killed in Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria are human beings, yes, we may have large chunk of Christians that were killed, they were human beings that were killed. In fact, what we want to do now is that we should be able to come out and condemn any form of killings in Nigeria, not about his faith, not about his tribe, not about where he comes from, but it is about the defence of human beings that are being killed. So, unless we collectively condemn the activities of our security chiefs that are careless, we only succeed in helping them to divide us the more. I am worried that Nigerians were killed, I am worried that our friends, people of different faiths, people that belong to the same nation were killed. Inasmuch as I acknowledge that a lot of Christians were killed, the bottom line is that Nigerians were killed. Nigerians that could help to develop the country in the future were killed. They lost their lives because someone did not do very well in his job.
There are several presidential candidates for the 2019 election, but all eyes seem to be on only Buhari and Atiku. What specific advice do you have for them as we go into the election next year?
Let me put it this way, as you rightly said, there are several presidential candidates in the country, all eyes seem to be on these two political parties; APC and PDP. The parties are famous because they are having our political bigwigs, the parties seem to have resources that people think can move any political movement. For now, God has helped Nigeria this time around, that nobody will begin to campaign on the basis of religion. It is about who is competent among all the candidates to deliver Nigerians. But there are other silent candidates that may not be among these two; and nobody is talking about them that can pull surprises. Nobody can tell. I want those silent candidates to come out to challenge this people, let Nigerians see them because one of the things that make Nigerians think about these two people is because of the crowd surrounding them. Those other candidates also have their own crowd, only that they have not moved round. You said you want to be president of Nigeria, and the only place you have office is in Ibadan, you can only be president of Ibadan, not Nigeria because you don’t have people working for you all over the country. I think that is why the reasons other candidates seem not to be famous. What I try to avoid is candidate who hides under religion as form of identity to get my vote, that is not enough.
We want a candidate that will take issue of development seriously, to convince the people that he can solve the problems of Nigerians.
Nigerians can overnight before the February 16 election turn around and support such candidate. But those candidates are not doing enough, they just sit in one place without moving about. People are also insinuating that probably some of them are fronting for the big candidates, so that is the fear, and I think we should be allowed a two-party system in this country. There are young Nigerians who are going to vote for the first time in their life; how can one make them get excitements of voting, nothing is being done about it. Some of these candidates have taken their campaign to the social media. But I can tell you that there are millions of Nigerians who don’t have access to the social media; Facebook, Whatsapp, what have you. They are there at the grassroots, campaign should be taken to their doorsteps. Secondly, I can say that if the major candidates are pulling the crowd, then they should not take Nigerians for granted because Nigerians have come of age politically, then they can vote you into power and vote you out of power if you fail to deliver on your promises. I want to encourage Nigerians to keep on voting out leaders that fail to perform so that tomorrow we have the right leader in power. I think it is because people buy us groundnut, rice to take our votes, that is why we are not getting it right. We should be able to put them on their toes that there are better candidates than them. Our voting pattern centres on youths and women because they form larger voters, but sadly we still have recycled politicians in offices. They are over 70 years of age, they are still in office, so the young people must wake up to take their rightful position in public offices. So, the two major presidential candidates should brace up or else they will see surprises as silent candidates can emerge to lead the country because everyone is hungry.
In other words, you are saying that Buhari or Atiku may not make the presidency?
If Nigerians will be so smart and stop being greedy, they can choose a president not necessarily these two. I don’t want a campaign where they will say choose a Southern president, choose a Northern president, choose a Christian president and choose a Muslim president. We are looking for a good leader in Nigeria. Christians and Muslims must open their eyes. I remember that we played all these cards severally over the years, where did it take us to; we have championed Muslim candidates, we have championed Christian candidates, where did they take us to? All of us are in poverty, we are weeping. So, the ethnic or religion consideration even made us poorer. We should look for someone who can deliver the good governance. It is not about who he is, his tribe, age, if he can deliver the good. If we know that these crowded parties cannot deliver the good, why don’t we show them that we are not so cheap. The day they know that we can choose another person, they will start respecting us.
Don’t you think money politics is another factor that will determine the winner?
Yes, money politics is another factor, but how much money can they give to you. Let’s assume they give you N10 million, and then they stole N10 billion, who lost? You are the one and they cannot even give you N10,000. We are talking about the future of our country, the progress of our children, education, and health. There is corruption everyone despite the fight against it.
Recently, President Buhari said that he would not rest until Chibok girls are released from Boko Haram captivity. Do you take the president seriously on this?
We have had so much rhetoric of government and nothing was done. I wish that government can for once stand firm and do what is right. Talking of bringing them to book; how many books that has not been filled; which book are you bringing them and what are you doing? Look, as security agencies pride themselves as the best in Africa, we have seen that they have not proved to be one. I cherish them not necessarily that I am a security agent, I am not, but my father fought in the army during the civil war. So, I always appreciate the sacrifice and service the military and other security agencies are making. But I think some elements of Nigerian security have politicized the whole things, and government seems to be helping them by making such statement they are making; “we will get these girls released.” Let them release the girls, let them release the girls. If it is about negotiation, how long does it take them to negotiate? If you are using different tactics to this matter, if negotiation has not been given, other methods would have given a clear picture. Sadly, we see some of these girls being killed and those who killed them have not been arrested. What kind of assurance is that? We are praying that at the appropriate time, God will intervene. Government should act responsibly because we are not happy with the form of arrest.
President Buhari has denied being a clone as some people tend to believe. What is your reaction to this?
I have discussed with some of our leaders that I don’t want to go into the controversy of the issue of clone. The person who first raised the allegation has denied that he never said Buhari was clone because
there is a difference between cloning and someone being replaced. So, you see, it is all about debate, and we don’t want to get ourselves into that. Let us ask ourselves one question, is the medical persons in London so cheap by watching this thing without saying anything? This is where I am more interested, if they are, but if they are not, then it is very unfortunate.
For the first time, Kaduna State is witnessing Muslim/Muslim ticket for the governorship election. Some people said it has further given wider crack to Christian/Muslim relationship in the state. Do you think so?
Well, since the coming of this administration because of careless talk by those in authority, they have actually widened the gap between Christians and Muslims. So, the issue of Muslim/Muslim ticket is not the matter, they have divided families, friends with so many rhetoric. So, the ticket is just a climax of all that has been going on. So, I don’t think that the issue of ticket is an issue because it only gives a choice. If we want this choice, we go for it, if we don’t want, we go for the one we want. I don’t want to talk about it and give it some kind of legitimacy, some kind of publicity. But for me, the governor is at liberty to do it because constitutionally he is the one to choose his deputy, he can even choose his brother. But if we are truly one another’s keeper, let’s prove it this time around that we are not given to cheapness this way. The thing is that, has the governor really performed to win the heart of the people, he tries to use religious sentiments to gain ground because he is the man who tells you that Government House is not worship center, Church or Mosque, but he is now playing a religious card, so it is hypocrisy.