Many Nigerians sank into the pool of disbelief as they watched video clips showing Father Mbaka tongue-flogging frontline politicians at his Adoration Ground last Sunday. The venerated Catholic Priest and prophet, perhaps, a future candidate for Sainthood, threw caution to the wind as he brazenly commanded politicians to donate to his ministry as if there was an idol at the ground that demanded monetary sacrifices [and who must be appeased] else disaster would befall worshippers. Of course, the morning after, when the videos went viral on the social media, Father Mbaka may have felt like a politician caught stuffing dollars in the roomy pockets of his white gown, or of a pastor caught pants down in bed with his mistress. Really scandalous… Many questions ooze out of the video:
Why is Father Mbaka so powerful that politicians listen to him?
Father Mbaka, not very tall, not very short, nevertheless, stands tall among the crowd at Adoration Ground and among the peasants in Enugu State. He derives his energy from the people. In materialistic South-East where the poor and downtrodden are trampled upon by the rich and powerful, Mbaka’s Adoration Ground has become a beehive simply because of his care for the poor. He feeds the poor; he is generous towards them; he gives the succor; he renews their hope and gives them a sense of belonging in a cold and hostile society. At the Ground the people live a communal lifestyle. Though he has ventures like water and juice bottling production outlets, the revenue from the enterprise is used to feed and cater for the needs of the people. In this way, thousands of persons consider Mbaka’s ministry as an oasis in the desert, and, of course, who pays the piper dictates the tune – they listen to him. Politicians who want to drink from the brook planted by Mbaka, I mean those who want to harvest support from the people, identify with the Adoration Ground.
Why did he compel Obi and Ganduje to make pledges?
In order to contextualize the awkward encounter between Mbaka and the political heavy-weights, it is necessary to realize that the Catholic Priest invited them to a bazaar. In the church, bazaars are fund-raising events, so it was clear that Mbaka didn’t want the politicians to take advantage of him and his people for nothing. First, Obi’s visit would be translated to mean Mbaka had endorsed his candidature as vice president to Atiku. This is a very crucial point because South-East political leaders tend to have isolated Peter Obi. If he is endorsed by Mbaka, it would be perceived that the masses in the South-East are with him. There are very few personalities with the kind of populist appeal like Mbaka in the South-East. So, Father Mbaka didn’t want Obi to run away with the goodwill of the people without making a financial commitment to the ‘projects’ of his ministry. Of course, after he was driven from the Government Reservation Area (GRA) in Enugu State after his tumultuous transfer saga few years back, Mbaka started his ministry in a virgin land that needs to be developed to meet the needs of thousands of followers. He really needs all the money he can get for the project, and that’s why he organized the bazaar. On the other hand, the visit by Ganduje was meant to alter any advantage Peter Obi would derive from visiting the Adoration Ground. Mbaka has become the beautiful bride of the political class, now that 2019 is fast approaching.
A prophet of ‘failure,’ and ‘shame’?
The Adoration Ground is wet with fasting, prayers and other spiritual exercises, so one can imagine a lot of prophetic utterances coming out of the mouth of Father Mbaka and ‘sons of the prophet.’ What is disturbing, however, is why Father Mbaka pour ‘failure’ and ‘shame’ on his visitors? Perhaps, when Father Mbaka watches the video again, the table would turn against him, as he is the one who would feel the failure and shame with those careless utterances. By those unguarded statements, Mbaka has lost a lot of goodwill from far and near, and his ministry may not be the same again. It reminds one of the first parts of Isaiah 1:23, which says: “Thy princes are rebellious and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards…” Mbaka pronounced those negative words on those who failed to support his ministry, but he was smart not to have attributed them to a revelation from God – that would have been very disastrous. For those who believe in biblical giving, one of the fertile grounds to plant seeds in order to reap abundance is the House of God. But invoking shame and failure upon those who do not do so is ungodly and over-size of desperation.
Used and dumped by Buhari?
Listening to Father Mbaka on being used and dumped by Buhari sounded like lines from statements by erstwhile associates of Buhari. It read like the voice of Alhaji Buba Galadima who counts the multiple prison experiences he has recorded because of his devotion and loyalty to Buhari. It is not clear how Mbaka worked for Buhari, but one can risk a guess. Perhaps, in 2015, he encouraged worshippers at his Adoration Ground to vote for Buhari during the presidential election to ensure his prophecy that Buhari would defeat Jonathan did not come to naught. Mbaka had suffered some bruises because his prediction that ex-Governor Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State would not win election as governor for the second term did not click. Nnamani won the governorship for a second term and went ahead to win a senatorial seat. If a high profile prophecy about Jonathan and Buhari failed, he would be tagged as a false prophet. He may have even fasted and prayed for his word about Buhari victory to come to pass – at a time when many church leaders didn’t want Buhari to become president. Mbaka felt let down, therefore, because after taking such a risky position he no longer had access to the president. It was frustrating, but very ugly to be recounted on record and in the social media.
Why is a Catholic Priest allowed to run such a ministry?
It is not unusual for Catholic priests to run humanitarian ministries. An example of such a successful ministry was that of Mother Theresa (1910-1997). A catholic missionary, she became famous for ministering to lepers, the homeless poor in Calcutta, one of backward cities in India. It is not an aberration, therefore, for Father Mbaka to run a ministry that supports the poor and forgotten while still in the services of the Catholic Church. What the clips in circulation have exposed is the excessive crave for money by the Catholic priest – which is unfortunate.
Mbaka has lost a lot of goodwill from far and near, and his ministry may not be the same again