By Daniel Ezeigwe
The Nigerian public was in the early hours of Monday thrown into a mixed frenzy. Not that occasions of mass excitement is something that ushers surprises into our social domain. Not anymore. In fact we are so used to one horror show or socio-political dramas engulfing each chapter of our carefree lives. We are probably the most activity-thirsty country in the globe. But Nigerians have proven a reckoning force in berating some nasty events, especially those that have direct impact on their ideologies, sentiments and beliefs. And so were they after a video emerged of Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka; a South East based Catholic priest once-revered for his vocality, spiritual revolutionary and courage in the face of evil and contaminated politics, making pulpit-baked comments suggestive of a terrible meeting between himself and Mr. Peter Obi, a former Governor of Anambra State, and Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who had gone to, according to him, see the priest on a formal invitation, just like any other Nigerian politician.
It all seems as though Nigerians have been standing patiently on the sidelines of eager hunt, waiting for the priest to make one more wrong step; just some slight mistep to get his neck into the public’s hangman’s noose. And he did! Someone had argued that Father Mbaka is only but a human, and must have spoken as a such. But even a human in full circle of senses would hold back on some words; bite on some words, as the old Igbo adage would say. To do so is not only a sign of deep wisdom, but an evidence of regulated zeal and thoughtfulness. Mbaka could have been trying to unconsciously portray his humanism, to also use that rare opportunity to get something off the once-in-four-years Nigerian politician. Little did he know that he was overshooting the prospect.
Mbaka’s invasion into the Nigeria’s political limelight was perhaps through his infamous December 31st, 2014 Crossover Night Talk, titled “From Goodluck to Badluck,” in which he, in the gnashing-teeth glare of his thousands of congregation, openly chided the Nigeria’s former President for turning from an eye of hope to an utter failure. On that historic night, the popular pastor declared the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government a nightmare, and lent open and absolute support to President Muhammadu Buhari, the-then candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC. In fact, Mbaka had branded Buhari a redeemer; one who was handpicked by God the Father Himself, to descend from the heaven, land on golden sofas of Aso Rock Villa and turn around our misfortunes with just a messianic wave of hand or a roaring command like “Let there be no more corruption!” Being a priest who gathered both spiritual and oratorical momentum, his words were largely taken as that which cometh from heaven. Thus Buhari and APC would later make a huge capitalization on those “prophetic declarations” to win the 2015 elections. Mbaka charisma became even more potent.
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Mbaka’s direct or indirect involvements in the Nigeria’s politics may not be overly worrisome given that most biblical prophets like Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Co had hands in the biblical explanations of politics. In fact, most of these prophets were both kingmakers and agents of power change. However, the biblical politics takes a very different colouration, given that those were the eras, we are told, when the sole universality of governance laid with God, the Supreme Governor. Nowadays, power lies more with the people, their voice being a reflection of God’s voice. “Men of God” are, for the caution of compromise, operating from a very corrective perspective, like championing criticisms, orientations and dialogues. And in Nigeria, where a politician’s first target is capitalizing on the teeming followerhip of most pastors, in their campaigns, disguised as receiving God’s blessings and a go-ahead command, it is usually wise to concentrate on the call of saving our derailing souls than letting the doors of your good ministry open to the virus-ridden knocks of our political class.
To have conditioned Atiku/Obi’s victory in the upcoming 2019 Presidential Election on “sowing of seed,” as you would always hear in the Nigerian worship centres, is an outright misuse of pastoral powers. As though God has bequeathed him with the destinies and fate of His creation. Though much credit would be accorded Mr. Obi for remaining diplomatic and tactical in his response, and urging his supporters not to rebel against the Catholic priest, some rare traits that have eluded African politicians and their over-payed spokespersons, many thumbs-down will go the way of Fr. Mbaka who should have apologized to all Nigerians, and especially those who looked up to him as the oracle of God, for leading them to vote for blind and paralyzed government.
That tasteless drama is also a big lesson for our politicians who constantly invade God’s houses seeking prophecies and looking to manipulate religious sentiments. I have also come across arguments that perhaps because it was a bazaar, and because Mr. Obi was invited to it, he would have at least sewn his own seed, announce that he would give a huge sum to the church, to Father Mbaka’s ministry. And because Obi did not do that, it was rather niggardly of him, a chance another Nigerian politician would have made a huge political benefit from. But Mr. Peter Obi being a practical economist that he is, saw little or no need to make flagrant money donation to the bazaar, and Mbaka was provocatively irked. It is also a big eye-opener for the Nigerian church goers, who would stick their minds to a single line of argument because their pastors and bishops have ordered them to do so, perhaps, in line with God’s supreme directive.
Father Mbaka and Mr. Obi’s adoration ground drama is probably one of the best lessons of the week. It is heart-fulfilling how the priest’s followers have come out to condemn that show of shame. Mbaka must be told the hard truth: a pastor who has compromised on the etiquette of religiosity can no longer compel credibility, and cannot tell us who would be our president in 2019.