Father Mbaka – Petulant priest or foul prophet, by Leo Sobechi

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Mbaka1His full name is Camillus Ejikemeuwa Mbaka. He is an ordained reverend father and therefore, a priest of the Catholic faith. What is known is that he is an only son of a widow, who defied culture and tradition to profess for the priestly vocation with its celibate conditionality. But what is not known is what alternate vocation the young man would have pursued if his ambition for priesthood had not clicked.

Father Mbaka, as he came to be known; pursued his priestly office with zeal. He founded the Adoration Ministry in Enugu, Southeast Nigeria, first as a forum to reach out to the youth with the gospel message, and as a means to revive the Catholic Church that was being depleted by the Pentecostal persuasion.

From a handful of worshippers at the Government Technical College (GTC) football field along Abakaliki Road Enugu, the weekly (Friday nights) “adoration of the Holy Eucharist” grew into hundreds and thousands. Young people and those with flailing faith thronged the vigils to sing, clap, dance and listen to the fiery homilies of the young priest. As father presided over the weekly adoration meetings, he was equally prosecuting the development of the Christ the King Parish of the Government Reservation Area (GRA), where he doubles as the parish priest.

But after establishing the Adoration Ministry Enugu almost beyond measures, Father Mbaka started dinning with kings, queens and princes of commerce, industry and politics. And so, unlike other young reverend fathers of his pedigree that usually got transferred from one parish to another in strict catholic administration, Mbaka was allowed to get entrenched. He was for the greater part of his pastoral ministry in CKC, a thorn in the flesh of the political leaders of the day. Indeed Mbaka became renowned based on his weekly tirades against the former governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. By siding with the civil servants that were victims of the State Government’s downsizing of the labour force, AMEN (Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria) became a sort of refuge for disengaged staff that thronged the Friday vigils to frustration. When the priest perceived that his messages of hate were well received by the masses, he fired on. The parish grew and with the increase in number, revenue surged!

It is not impossible that with the prodigious remittances to the Enugu Diocese, the Bishop, perhaps out of fear that not being an indigene of Enugu and given the schisms that preceded his Bishopric; started seeing Mbaka as an untouchable. What was more, most politicians began to court the priest because of the number of faithful that thronged his services, especially the Friday night vigils. As tension rose in the buildup to the 2003 governorship election, Father Mbaka gravitated towards one of the candidates, Ugo Agballah, who on account of his resignation from the cabinet of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, became the rallying point of opposition in the state. Irked by the nature of hate messages being spewed by the reverend father against the government of the day, the Anglican Archbishop of Enugu Diocese, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, on a chance meeting with the Adoration pastor, urged him to remember Christ’s injunction on Christians to pray for leaders.

Either on account of the number of political heavyweights that visited CKC Parish and Adoration meetings or the sprawling business empire, which he controls, ranging from printing, food processing and manufacturing, Father Mbaka sort of transformed into a mini-Bishop and prince of Enugu. He rode on the naivety and gullibility of his impoverished followers to even greater heights. Father Mbaka’s influence expanded exponentially, so much so that in 2007, he sponsored a governorship candidate on the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) platform. It was either that his mission was not backed up by God or he did not back up his candidate with sufficient prayers, the governorship candidate did not make it. Despite the level of rigging that characterised the election, it was obvious from the outcome that most voters were divided in their preference for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Sullivan Chime and his kinsman, Agballah of the Accord Party!

No doubt, Mbaka must have been touched by the disappointing outing. He must have discovered also that the multitudes that throng Adoration in search of beatitude and catharsis could have a mind of their own when it came to casting of votes. He tried to regain his voice when Dr. Okwy Nwodo was removed from office as national chairman of PDP. In 2011, Mbaka did not bother introducing any governorship candidate because he sensed that the masses were with Chime. And feeling that the political space in Enugu had become too small for him, Mbaka decided to look up, at least to influence things at the centre and 2015 became the opportune moment. APC had succeeded in mobilizing the citizens against PDP and its presidential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Mbaka had some issues with a commercial bank over facilities granted his firm. At a point the bank had to involve the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Accounts were sealed and there was need to have a voice from above to charm the ferocious dogs at EFCC to sleep. What seemed an auspicious opening came when the wife of candidate Jonathan, visited AMEN in the company of the Deputy President of Senate, Ike Ekweremadu. Attempt to get Mama Peace’s number flopped. Instead of madam’s phone number that of the special assistant on religious affairs was handed to father by the security aide. Father Mbaka’s anger knew no limit.

While the priest was silently grieving for the foxy display of the first lady’s aides, some stalwarts of APC visited him. The meeting was facilitated by a governorship candidate of the party in one of the Southeast states. The present Minister for Labour and Employment was to be on the delegation, but he declined at the last minute, raising concerns that “it does not take that small boy anything to start insulting anybody.” In the end, two APC chieftains, one from Southeast and South-South, met with the priest in Enugu. And what was on the evangelical menu the following Friday? What did the masses go to Adoration to hear? Father Mbaka, waxing bold in the power of information received from his APC visitors, narrated how a spiritual experiment he carried out with pigeons, convinced him that Jonathan would lose the presidential election. The rest is history, but the manner of his delivery, including the mendacity that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the naira died just because they came in contact with Jonathan, remained a stain on the father’s cassock.

Twelve months later, at another end of year adoration, Father Mbaka dropped another prophecy from God. Again the way he communicated his message from above, showed that the priest loves to touch people that are seated above. Who would want to kill an old soldier? Of course those being accused of corruption!

“Fellow Nigerians, let us wait upon God; I have a new message. I’m blessing and covering the message we are giving now in the prophetic name of Jesus. Father, speak now as your servant listens: My beloved Nigerians, those who led us from last year downwards, they have killed this country; none of them is qualified to stay in this country by now, both the president, the Senators, the House of Representatives members, the chairmen of local governments, the governors, they are wicked. It doesn’t matter the man of God they worship with; I tell you, before God and man, all of them are wicked; they hate this country, they succeeded in removing the liver, kidney and cardiovascular system of this country and handed over to President Buhari the shambles, skeletal organs of this country; a nation that is in coma.

“Nigeria, as we speak now, economically and security-wise, is in the intensive care unit; if the oxygen is removed, Nigeria will die. People of God prayed from here and there and God gave us Buhari. God has told us that Buhari is prayer answered; President Buhari is an answered prayer; whether you hate him or like him, Buhari is prayer answered. .. I am not a sycophant; but I want to tell you that so far God is happy and he who God has blessed none can curse. Many people are planning to kill Buhari; there are many plans on how to eliminate his life so that corruption will continue; so that embezzlement will continue.” That was part of the message Father Mbaka transmitted.

But coming days after the young priest visited Aso Rock; it may not be outlandish to conclude the he must have received inspiration from the reception he got at the feet of the six foot president! And watching him in a wry smile that seemed to suggest a fitting reward for his exploits of preaching defeat for an incumbent, perhaps another priest may need to be hired to pray that this priest of our time would have cause to hold a contrary view should the retired general decide to go ‘astray’. The Mbaka phenomenon has become a yearly ritual of sensational predictions that mirror the gross limitations of Nigeria as a modern state. Any upstart can scale up overnight using dubious means to become inevitable in national calculations. Perhaps Mbaka’s emulation of the Pentecostal tradition has taken a life of its own and threatening to dislodge what is known of Catholicism. it could also be time for the catholic establishment to call him to order.

While he preached in Enugu, in faraway Ughelli, a layman, in what seemed a direct message to Mbaka; was preaching to priests. Speaking during the consecration of three Bishops by the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, at the Cathedral of All Saints, Ughelli, Delta State; Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, urged ministers of the gospel to “resist the temptation to seek fame, fortune, and power at all costs.” He noted that the temptation of flirting with politicians for pecuniary gains could make ordained men of God to lose their dignity as moral conscience of the society. (Source: The Guardian)

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