recants, apologises to Peter *His unending war with political office holders By Mike Ebonugwo Radical Catholic priest, Reverend Father Ejike Camillus Mbaka, who has been in the eye of the storm days after he reportedly passed controversial political-cum-prophetic judgements on President Muhammadu Buhari; the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Peter Obi, may have been compelled by the weight of public outrage to eat humble pie as he has at last publicly apologised for his unguarded comments.
The Spiritual Director of the Adoration Catholic Prayer Ministry, Enugu who has over the years become famous for courting controversy, certainly did not flinch in stirring the hornet’s net when during his ministry’s recent harvest and bazaar programme, he berated the President for failing to reciprocate in kind the ministry’s support for him through prayer intercessions and prophetic endorsement.
Claiming to have been responsible for Buhari’s presidential election victory in 2015 and subsequent miraculous recovery from ill-health, the priest frowned at the President’s lack of gratitude, predicting doom for him in the 2019 presidential election if he did not quickly mend his ways and do the needful.
Rev.Fr. Mbaka spoke before Hope Uzodinma, the All Progressives Congress, APC, gubernatorial candidate in Imo State, who claimed to be there to represent Mr President, announced a donation of N20 million to the ministry and the provision of a medical facility at the Adoration Ground, prompting the man of God to declare thus: “Uzodimna would become the next governor of Imo State by the grace of God.” But it was on Atiku and Obi he turned his full verbal venom, as he unleashed scathing tirade on the duo and the party they represent, the PDP, while predicting humiliation for them at the polls. Addressing Obi who was present at the Adoration Ground for the programme, Rev.Fr. Mbaka did not mince words in telling him that, unlike Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State who had done so much for the Adoration Ministry, he(Obi) had done nothing and warned him against being stingy. “Umahi donated 1,000 bags of rice and 1,000 tubers of yam to us, but it meant nothing to me until he handed N10 million cheque to me and promised to build a project for the ministry. This is the type of gesture we require from Obi,” Father Mbaka was quoted to have said. And for Governor Ugwuanyi’s generosity in this regard, Mbaka assured him of his re-election in 2019. But for Atiku and Obi, he warned that if they continued in the trajectory of not doing what others have done for the ministry, they would end up in shame. A visibly embarrassed Obi smiled through it all. As expected, Rev. Fr. Mbaka has been on the receiving end of scathing criticisms from several quarters. Indeed hundreds of Obi’s supporters and sympathisers called for the head of the priest, demanding that the Catholic Church should immediately impose the most severe sanctions on him for his perceived sacreligious pronouncements and public embarrassment of Obi, a former Governor of Anambra State and highly respected public figure. But in spite of the humiliating experience he suffered in the hands of the priest, Obi whose younger brother is a priest and elder sister a nun, appealed to his irate, sabre-rattling supporters to sheathe their sword. According to him, the priest who is an anointed man of God needs prayers rather than castigation for the things he said. Speaking through his media aide, he said: “Please let us leave Fr. Mbaka alone; our duty to him is prayers for God to lead him aright. While one may disagree with him, we should always acknowledge that he speaks and acts from the higher perspective of wisdom. I have full respect for men of God and will always remember them in my prayers. When they go wrong as humans, subject to human frailties, ours is not to castigate them but to pray to God to lead them aright.”
But while restating its apolitical stance, the Catholic Church in Nigeria has since distanced itself from the controversial political statements attributed to one of its own, Rev.Fr. Mbaka. According to a statement it issued in this regard through the Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi : “The church doesn’t take any political position at any time and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, a couple of weeks ago, issued an official statement to that effect; that the pulpit should not be used for any political campaign or the priest coming out to endorse any candidate as against the other. So, anything, on the contrary, is against what the church is teaching. “He(Father Mbaka) doesn’t represent the official position of the church because the church’s position has always been clear and that is what the position of the church has always been, and it hasn’t changed yet. “Church officials don’t come out and make political statements or say things that might suggest that one political candidate is endorsed as against the other, no. It is against the church’s mode of operation. It is against the church’s principles.” Indeed, the CBCN statement under reference also underlined the position of the Church thus: “…We hereby declare that no Catholic clergy or religious should publicly endorse any candidate for political off ice. Lithurgical ceremonies must never be used as an opportunity for political campaigns. Similarly, ecclesiastical properties should not be used as places for support for any political candidate or party. All priests and religious should avoid giing the impression that the Church favours one candidate over another, or one political party over another”. Rev. Fr. Mbaka, the stormy petrel, apologises But as more outraged Nigerians joined the chorus of those calling for his head and eagerly awaiting what punishment the Catholic Church and even the authorities of the state will mete out to him, Father Mbaka had initially appeared unperturbed, obviously convinced that with the benefit of his anointing and ecclesiastical mandate as a priest and prophet of God, he has wronged no one through his pronouncements. That was until he capitulated on Saturday and publicly apoligised to former Governor Peter Obi for embarrassing him during the Adoration Ministry harvest and bazaar programme. Addressing his Adoration Ministry congregation on Saturday, the embattled priest denied being aware of the deluge of criticisms, especially on social media, from outraged Nigerians over his comments during his ministry’s bazaar celebration, particularly the episode where he subjected Obi to embarrassing recriminations. This attributes to the claim that: “I’m not a priest of social media”, adding: “It may surprise you to know that I don’t even have a personal facebook”. But it was indeed a sober, humble and contrite Father Mbaka who declared thus: “… On behalf of myself, Reverend Father Mbaka Ejike Camillus, the Servant and Spiritual Director of this Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria, I wish to apologise humbly to the former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, who came here on Sunday for bazaar. In anyway, shape or form my utterances and actions at that bazaar induced, initiated or prompted derogatory remarks, criticisms or unhealthy attacks to his personality, I don’t intend any of these. All I said on that day, I never meant to insult him, or to bring his political career down. My intention is simply to support the work of God. If my actions exhibited misdeamour, or any unheathy attitude that provoked even himself, and those who love him, that brought about all these verbal attacks, I’m asking whoever is or will be hurt to please and please forgive me. Henceforth, I will equally encourage you, adorers, to keep focused on Christ whom we worship here. And I will ask you to cease fire; stop fighting back”. Mbaka versus political office holders Remarkably, this may be the first time Father Mbaka is apologising publicly over statements made while ministering at his Adoration Ministry Ground in Enugu. Though hugely popular among the Catholic faithful who throng the Adoration Ground for his ministrations, he is not particularly a darling of many political office holders who regard him as a modern time doomsday prophet and an irritant. Well documented is his fierce clash with former Enugu State governor, Chimaroke Nnamani. And for incurring his wrath, he had in 2002 declared a holy war on Nnamani through a special audio tape titled: “This Wicked Generation” in which he categorically stated that the governor’s 2003 re-election bid would not be realised. Although Nnamani had in spite of the prophetic declaration succeeded in securing his re-election, this was not enough to stop Father Mbaka from taking on other political office holders. The most celebrated case remains his public declaration in 2015 that God had rejected then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who was then bidding for re-election on the platform of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. While expressing support for the then opposition APC and its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari who were campaigning on the mandate of change, the Catholic priest declared thus: “By the grace of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are announcing spiritually, change! 2015 should not be a year of any hooligan maneuvering to hijack power. This is our New Year message. Listen, when you go home, tell anybody you see that from the Oracle of the Holy Spirit, we are announcing change.” He did not stop there. Continuing, he said: “My message is in two branches. Number one branch, the theme of this first message to my fellow countrymen, is from good luck to bad luck. Once upon a time, the whole countrymen were crying for a leader who will help us move forward with our economy, have an authentic democracy, give our unemployed youths jobs, enable our power to be steady, who will industrialise Nigerians, who will encourage mass education and agriculturalize Nigeria. Having in view that oil will soon drop, give us security in a maximum level. By the grace of God, there emerged a Goodluck, all of us were happy. May the Holy Spirit help me as I utter this message. I know many will misunderstand it, but it will stand the test of time and you will know I’m speaking the truth. “Goodluck met Yar’Adua and Yar’Adua died. Before you know it, the Goodluck met our oil and the oil had a bad luck and poured away. Before we knew it, the Goodluck met our naira, our naira had a bad luck. Where are we going? What is the fate of this country? Shall we continue like this, we need change! “As I’m speaking with you, most of our civil servants did not celebrate their Christmas. The Christmas season that should be a goodluck time became a bad luck time for our Nigerians forgetting that very soon, from 3rd January, the children will go back to school and the parents are going to pay school fees. From where? Are they going to use their urine to pay? Are they going to use their stool to pay the school fees of their children? “What is the fate of our children? Tears fill my eyes when I see our young graduates roaming and walking our streets. What is the meaning of kidnapping? Kidnapping is the grandson of unemployment. Boko Haram is a great-grand-child of the same unemployment, mass looting, and poor governance.