As the controversy rages, it could be recalled that many Nigerians gave Mbaka the sobriquet, “Prophet of our time” for correctly predicting the outcome of the 2015 presidential election
“Courage not compromise brings the smile of God’s approval.”
– Thomas S. Monson
Outspoken Catholic priest and Spiritual Director of Adoration Catholic Prayer Ministry in Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Camillus Anthony Ebenezer Mbaka, is not new to controversies, especially when it comes to looking politicians in the eye and speaking the truth to them. He did exactly that last Sunday during the 2018 Harvest Thanksgiving and Bazaar of his ministry and again set tongues wagging. The vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Peter Obi, had attended the ceremony, but was unwilling to announce a donation to the church openly. Mbaka prodded him to announce something no matter how small, even to the extent of telling him what other heavyweight politicians that graced the event donated to the ministry, but Obi did not budge. The former Anambra State governor believed that his earlier statement that he would pay a private visit to the priest and take up a project in his church was enough.
But Mbaka didn’t want to hear that. He does not trust Nigerian politicians, not even Obi. He knows that they promise one thing today and do another thing tomorrow. Ask yourself what on earth the politicians have not promised the poor masses of this country from 1999 when the military handed over power to them till date. But how many of those promises have been kept? Where are the jobs, standard schools at all levels, good road networks, stable power supply, well-equipped hospitals, security and other amenities? Are they not re-echoing the same promises even as we approach another general election? Apparently on his guard, Mbaka didn’t want his church to fall victim to such deceits. Like the majority of the electorate, he has learnt to grab whatever he can from them at the first contact because he knows that their tomorrow may never come. Indeed, even the church welcomes stomach infrastructure. So, the fiery priest couldn’t just stomach Obi’s defiance and had to give him a priestly tongue-lashing.
“God hates stinginess. I am not telling you this to make you happy. This is what will save your life. Otherwise, you and Atiku will fail. If there is a place they will coat words for you, it is not at Mbaka’s altar. You can save your political destiny, or in 2019, you people will not even know how they did the election. What will make my brother to come for bazaar and he won’t even break kola? The way you and Atiku are moving will end in shame. Let us continue our bazaar. You know since he is not supporting us, the ministry has been moving. If people start arguing like this, their downfall begins,” Mbaka pronounced.
The video recording of the encounter has gone viral and people have been calling Mbaka all sorts of names even to the extent of questioning his calling. The Catholic Diocese of Enugu has also come out to say that he was on his own and did not speak for the church. The diocese said it was wrong for a priest to make political statements from the pulpit. Ironically, Nigerian politicians crave for such statements each time election is approaching. So, what if Mbaka was led by the Holy Spirit to say what he said? Could he have stopped the Holy Spirit from using him to speak the mind of God at that particular moment? Does he even have the power to do that?
A maxim in my local dialect says, ‘O jeko fuko,’ meaning you can only experience events you participate in. It’s, therefore, possible that if Obi had not visited Adoration Ministry, Enugu, on that fateful day, those words wouldn’t have come forth from Mbaka. Coincidentally, he visited on a day the ministry was celebrating its annual harvest and bazaar. The Cambridge dictionary defines bazaar as an event where people sell things to raise money, especially for an organisation that helps other people. A church bazaar is usually held once in a year to raise funds for the church. Although bazaar is no longer in vogue in new generation churches, it is still very much practiced by the Catholic Church in Nigeria. As practiced in this clime, any important personality in a bazaar breaks the kolanut with whatever amount of money he/she can willingly afford when invited to the podium. This was exactly what Mbaka was pressuring Obi to do, because “no one should appear before the Lord empty-handed” – Deuteronomy 16:16. It’s unfortunate that Obi in his frugality did not immediately grab the message and the episode ended on a controversial note.
As the controversy rages, it could be recalled that many Nigerians gave Mbaka the sobriquet, “Prophet of our time” for correctly predicting the outcome of the 2015 presidential election, which threw up the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. Therefore, those who have been calling him unprintable names in the social media over the issue should beware. God can use anybody or any situation to declare his intent.
Born in Amata Ituku in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Mbaka was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church on July 29, 1995. He is the Parish Priest at Our Lady Parish, Enene, and the founder and Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministries Enugu Nigeria (AMEN).