CLEARLY, the Mbaka episode is multi-dimensional and it is getting messier by the day. It has reached a point where President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife cannot remain mute for too long, lest they will continue to be misunderstood. The theatricals are still unfolding.
Act I: Scene I – Dame Patience Jonathan visits the Catholic Adoration Centre in Enugu, a church headed by Revd Father Ejike Mbaka. Madam is pleasantly received and Father Mbaka eulogises her husband to the high heavens. So impressed was Dame that she dropped N5 million in the offering bag. And this was marvelous in the sight of Mbaka.
Scene II: Madam returns to Abuja. Father Mbaka makes several unsuccessful attempts to see her.
Act II: Scene I – A short while later, Father Mbaka lampoons the Jonathan administration for abysmal performance. In a New Year message titled
“From Good luck to Bad luck”, Mbaka openly canvassed the rejection of President Jonathan at the 2015 presidential election, thus asking Nigerians to vote for a leader who can tackle the many challenges facing Nigeria. He lashed out at men of God who hobnob with the powers-that-be.
Mbaka went ruthlessly personal: “The Jonathan administration has failed… When Goodluck met Yar’Adua, he got bad luck and died. When Goodluck met our oil, it poured away and met bad luck. When Goodluck met our Naira, it met bad luck… Look at you brilliant youth, nobody has any plans for you… 2015 cannot be the same. We announce change… Boko Haram has virtually crippled the Northeastern part of the country…
Many are saying that it is Buhari that said he would make our country ungovernable. Even though Buhari never said such a thing, but if you are the President, will you not arrest such a person? Are you waiting for your own church to be bombed before you speak out? … If my father will be leader and my siblings will all die, let a stranger be my leader and let my family live….”
Questions: Where did things go wrong? When is a housewife who goes about throwing money around worth investigating? From the much we know, the office of First Lady is totally alien to our Constitution. Where did this housewife get all the money she is throwing around? When are we going to have an Internal/Inland Revenue Service that will be alive to its responsibilities? In the United States of America, for instance, if you are unable to account for your source wealth, Uncle Sam would pursue you far into the bottomless pit.
Which offering bag would contain N5 million, even in our highest denomination of N1000 notes? Is it possible, albeit most unlikely, that the
What would have transpired for the Reverend to exploded, and resolved to take his pound of flesh!
Only a good investigation would unraveled the truth here but given the pluralistic nature of our society, even the investigators are, ab initio, handicapped: if they push too hard, they are seen as supporting the opposition; and if they do not push hard enough, they are seen as working for the “oga at the top”.
Meanwhile, Father Mbaka has come under severe criticism from many quarters. He is accused of washing the dirty linens in public. Our counsel is to prevent the linen from dirt for, once the linen gets dirty, it can be washed anywhere – even on the pulpit!
Again, the Mbaka sermon provides a most damning verdict on the Jonathan administration, particularly coming from the most unexpected quarters – the Southeast, where Jonathan’s second-term bid had become a foregone conclusion.
The Mbaka sermon has a lot of parallels in history. Right from biblical times, courage has been the stuff of which leaders are made. When Queen Esther saved an entire generation of people, asserting unequivocally, “If I perish I perish”, she demonstrated rare courage. When the Archbishop Olubunmi Okogie, as he then was, remained in the vanguard of critics of our military rulers, he demonstrated uncommon courage.
There is something that cannot be taken away from Father Mbaka – he has shown that the easiest way of perpetuating evil is for good men to do nothing. For too long, men of God have remained docile in the face of injustice in this country, oblivious of the fact that it is only when society is at peace that the church can be at peace. For instance, how many people can go to church in the troubled regions of the world?
There is no escaping the inevitable conclusion that the church in Nigeria today has become hopelessly compromised, commercialized and polarized.
But let no one be deceived into believing that religious leaders have no business in politics and governance. One major problem in this country has been the failure of the church to live up to expectation as the conscience of the people and the representatives of God on earth. We believe that many of the ills that have plagued this country would have been averted had our religious leaders been courageous enough to speak out as appropriate.
The situation here calls for a lot of restraint. Whatever the motivation mix and despite Mbaka’s apparent duplicity, there are aspects of his message that cannot be totally ignored. There comes a time when we must ignore the messenger and still accept his message.