By Nkannebe Raymond
Without a doubt, Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka’s Adoration ground has become a campaign tourist-resort where unmitigated politicking is the order of the day. And quite alarmingly, everybody is welcome at this ‘party’, in so far as they can part with donations to help fund Mbaka’s unending church-development-projects. Even the Gandujes of this world are welcome provided they are willing to part with some of their infamous $5 million. It is that bad.
While this writer concedes that the clergy must not shy away or recuse itself from politics, clerical courtesies only demand that caution must not be flung to the winds in their descent into a terrain alien to their natural habitat. And we have seen many of them discharge this duty with so much grace and gusto and with even more impact as with the Apostle Paul, in the early days of the church. Perhaps I should mention the Bishop of Sokoto diocese, the very Rev. Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah (whose book, Religion, Politics and Power I have just started reading) for being the very ensemble of how the clergy should be involved in mundane politics. Others include the cerebral Rev. Fr. George Ehusani, his eminence, cardinal John Onaiyekan to keep the list short.
But all of these apparently makes no sense to this Enugu born cleric and overrated chief priest of the revenue-generating ‘Adoration Ministry’. For him, politics is the alternative sport and election seasons such as the one we are in, an avenue for him to speak obstreperously from both sides of his mouth as though nursing acute diarrhoea of the mouth.
It is not the first time we are seeing this diminutive ‘man of God’ at his ignoble worst. But certainly, the outburst over the weekend crosses the proverbial red line which makes him in my considered opinion a subject of emergency for the Catholic Church.
It is reported that he literally mounted the rostrum over the weekend and read the riot act to politicians who according to him abandoned the ministry after emerging victorious at the 2015 general elections on account of the wonders of the God of his Adoration Ministry whose avowed high priest he is. This, I am told took place at the 2018 harvest and bazaar celebration at his famous Adoration Ground in Emene. And the man in his typical style was amok as though possessed by some demon.
For President Muhammadu Buhari, he says it was a sin against the Holy spirit for him to abandon the church since after profiting bountifully from the blessings of the ministry without donating a project to it. He however, did not tell his audience whether it was Jubril who would pay the ‘debt’ of Muhammadu, or whether the opprobrium of the Holy Spirit could be visited on Jubril vicariously. He boasted, like the biblical Moses when he struck the rock, how the ministry saved Buhari from the claws of death on account of the prayers they spared for him when he became interminably sick, and advised those who have the man’s ears to warn him that “no one cheats God”.
He berated the running mate of the PDP presidential candidate, His Excellency, Peter Obi for not having done anything for the church. And warned that if he continued on that part, he and his Atiku, would crash out at the polls. He tells Atiku to reach out to Igbo leaders and Hon. Ike Ekweremadu if he must emerge victorious at the forthcoming election, and in the same breadth, invite him to the ministry to “do a project for them”.
That was not all.
Despite publicly disowning Peter Obi, he however, took receipt of a 500,000 donation by the man ostensibly for “breaking of kolanut”, and condescended upon a gospel of financial recklessness before declaring that “stinginess is not a virtue”. After taking receipt of Senator Hope Uzodinma’s donation of twenty million Naira, he wished he were the INEC chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu when he declared that “Uzodinma would become the next governor of Imo state by the grace of God”.
He hailed the governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Umahi, not because the man has endowed a scholarship scheme for the entire people of his state, but because he had just donated “1,000 bags of rice and 1,000 tubers of yam to the ministry”. He however demurred that all of that meant nothing to him, until the governor “handed a 10 million Naira cheque to me and promised to build a project for the ministry” and further invited Peter Obi, who it is acknowledged performed creditably well as governor of Anambra state, to learn from the Ebonyi state helmsman. In his own words, “this is the type of gesture we require from Obi”.
The rest of the day was spent in eulogising the incumbent governor of Enugu state who he said was leadership personified and the best thing to have happened to the state that hosts his ministry. Ugwuanyi was decorated as a man of peace, a perfect genius and a humble and ever patient servant all through Mbaka’s apparently jaundiced binoculars.
Watching the video clips of this clerical oddity earlier today, one thing ringed through and through. It is this: that developmental governance for Ejike Mbaka can only be assessed through the prism of his adoration ministry. That is to say, you are only good as much as you continue to be a financial ally of the man’s adoration ministry. And you are condemned to the hades if like, Peter Obi, you prioritize the interest and welfare of the masses whose leadership you hold in trust. This is governance, the Mbaka style.
It also appears the Awgu-born cleric have since elevated himself to the chief electoral umpire of the federation (forget about Mahmud), and his adoration stables, the national polling unit for the casting of ballot. In simplest terms, a politician’s ambition sinks or swims with the endorsement vel non of this tin god with clay legs. Talk about religious braggadocio and abuse of the privileges of the Holy spirit! All these he does in flagrant breach of the provisions of section 95(3)(b) of the Electoral Act, 2010 which prohibits religious leaders and clerics from using their pulpits to “promote, propagate, or attack political parties, candidates, their programmes or ideologies.”
We do not know what could be responsible for Mbaka’s oversized ego and overweening inflated sense of importance that has coalesced to bring out the weaknesses of the man.
But when a man begins to see himself as a Tin god with clay legs, it is meet that he be cut down to size as soon as possible by the institutions who have the means, in this case, the echelons of the catholic church. When the church decides to do that however is strictly her prerogative. But suffice it to warn that the sooner the church calls him to order, the better for it, lest her silence be mistaken for complicity.
In the mean time, Mbaka must climb down from his high horse to concentrate on his holy ghost ministry that brought him from obscurity into national limelight and leave partisan politics and politicking to the politicians including Atiku, Buhari or Jubril, Ugwuanyi, Uzodinma, Obi and the other names who do not escape mention at his revenue-generating adoration ground. The cynosure of all eyes, should not dab his face with charcoal.
Nkannebe Raymond, a lawyer and public affairs commentator, wrote in from Lagos. Comments and reactions to firstname.lastname@example.org