From days immemorial, the office of the priest has been viewed with much respect, reverence, and to a reasonable extent, feared. They are seen as the link between the spirit realm which is often regarded as immortal and the material plane where the mortals exist. In Igbo and Judeo-Christian circles, priests are seen not just as the link between the two prevailing planes but as persons with dual personalities who simultaneously inhabit the planes, hence the Igbo adage which states “Okala mmadu okala mmuo”; half” human, half spirit.” They also have the exclusive preserve of accessing the “Holy of Holies” and even eat the gifts brought to the beings they represent, hence the appellation “Oli ife aja”
In the catholic church, priesthood is a highly respected office and those who occupy it are well prepared in many areas of human endeavour, with a training that spans over fourteen years, a catholic priest is thoroughly groom in the order of Melchezedek. Trained in chastity, envowed unto a life of poverty and separated from the rest of humanity in celibacy, engrafted in the spirit of God through revelations and prophecies; media through which God relates clearly with those who He call His’.
Priests are truly in all ramifications “fathers of the faith”. Although well versed in the polity of their immediate societies and the world at large, priest prefer to most times steer clear from active participation in politics except where they are enjoined to participate due prevailing socio-political circumstances as in the cases of Rev. Fr Jean-Betrand Arisitide of Haiti and Rev. Fr Moses Adasu of Benue State. We have also seen critics from the pulpit in the order of Elijah like His Eminence Anthony Cardinal Okogie of the Lagos Metropolitan Church and John Cardinal Onaiyekan of the Arch Diocese of Abuja. While the Pentecostal enclave have the flamboyant musician-turned preacher cum politician Rev. Chris Okotie and former Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) Pastor Tunde Bakare as their modest contribution to the pack.
In country faced with enormous challenges, and a populace that believes so much that their lives are controlled by supernatural forces who determines their fate through the deposition of their faith in them and the their ability to adhere unquestionably to the dictates of their intermediaries (Priests), religious gatherings are often filled with people who flock there for miracles, signs, wonders, divine blessings, declarations and prophecies.
So it was little wonder when a certain Fr. Ejike Camillus Mbaka sprang up in the sleepy town of Enugu in the dying days of the twentieth century , precisely on the foot-ball field of the Government Technical College (GTC) Enugu for what Enugu residents then dubbed “Adoration” a programme that held every Wednesday. According to adherents, the man was a bulldozer to the gates of hell, and a present day Apostle Paul in the manner he wrath miracles, as he has the power to cure any type of disease that was brought to him; some even claimed he had the ability to raise the dead. However if i may remember, a former neighbour of mine named Ambrose (surname withheld) went to Mbaka’s Adoration, but did not receive his healing as he died shortly after.
With the popularity of his Ministry growing, Mbaka assumed influence. His weekly programmes became a key factor in determining the cost of transportation in cities in the East as most transporters prefer plying that route on Wednesdays in order to partake of the blessings of the multitude gravitating towards Enugu to seek the face of God. With the influx of followers seeking for solutions to their diverse problems, the Ituku-born catholic clergy began to court the envy of his ecclesiastical peers and a pocket of his superiors. Calls were made for the stopping of the weekly activities as it was becoming a threat to the congregants of the Mother church within the Ecclesiastical Province and beyond, but for the liberality of the then Bishop of Enugu Diocese His Lordship Bishop Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji who insisted that the young charismatic priest should be allowed to go on especially in an era when the catholic church is losing members to the rampaging Pentecostal movement.
As the congregation grew so also the economic base of the ministry, as the ministry delved into commercial activities that were laced with pinning of spiritual persuasions; such items like AQUA RAPHA: “the healing water” and its sister product RAPHA YOUGHORT chased other competitors out of the market due to the hype of their healing abilities. The Adoration Ministries Enugu Nigeria (AMEN) musical label also flooded the society with songs which had Fr. Mbaka as the lead vocalist.
With these surge in his popularity Mbaka ventured into the murky waters of politics with the then Enugu state governor Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani as his main punching-bag. The pulpit at Christ the King Parish G.R.A Enugu and the GTC adoration ground became the launching pad of verbal attacks on the Chimaroke led government house, the peak of it all being the sermon titled “Wicked Generation” that was used by the governor’s opponents during the 2003 elections.
With a populace that was religiously charged, soaked in the opium of unquestioned loyalty to their spiritual lords and psychologically tuned to seeing the government of Enugu state as an evil regime, it was easy for the catholic father to mobilise a huge crowd for a Eucharistic march round Enugu symbolical to the Israelites march around Jericho calling on the heaven to ensure the fall of Dr. Nnamani in the elections of 2003. Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbakaeven tried playing God by saying that if Chimaroke wins the elections; he will pull off his cassock. Well… Chimaroke won the election, was sworn-in for the second time and capped it up with a four-year sojourn in Nigeria’s National Assembly as a Senator. Yet Mbaka has not thrown away his priestly cassock.
With an antecedents that has been laced with partisan postulations, it was little wonder to those on the know the prophetic summersaults of Fr. Mbaka when he busted out in tirade against the government and person of President Goodluck Jonathan during the New Year service of his Adoration Ministry. The “man of God” who had less than one month ago prayed and prophesied for the President while calling the opposition APC “Boko Haram” confused his followers, while confirming the position of his critics that he is a prophet in the class of Balam whose prophesies can be bought with inducements (Numbers 22, Numbers 31:7, 8, 16; Deuteronomy 23:4, 5; Joshua 24:9, 10; Nehemiah 13:2; Micah 6:5; 2 Peter 2:15, 16; Jude 11 and Revelation 2:14).Many are of the opinion that Mbaka went berserk because the Presidency was slow in fulfilling a promise made to him. Thinking that his out-pour will spur the government into action; while another version has it that the multi-talented preacher has been gratified by reactionary elements, for him to speak from both sides of his mouth. Whichever way the public views it that Rev. Fr Ejike Camillus Mbaka has derailed from his prophetic calling since 2003 when he crossed the thin line between politics and religion.
In a country which is politically charged ahead of the 2015 general elections, peopled by strange-bedded ethnic cleavages, and engrafted in the vagaries of religious unquestionability Mbaka over-stepped his bounds when he hid under the banner of ecclesiastical immunity to insult the President of the most populous black nation, and reversing himself on statements earlier made and prophecies earlier delivered. While his voice sounded frustrated, his choice of word at that infamous sermon were rather pitiable, he once again exposed himself as a man of God who has lost the GOD in him and is left with emptiness of the frailty in humanity.
For the bloodshed in the North-East of the country, Mbaka poured vituperations on a leader whose regime has not witnessed any political killing for the six years he has been on the saddle, nor accused of victimising anyone as a result of their political affiliation. A leader who has exhibited unparallel humility and pacifism in handling the issue of the Boko Haram insurgency; an alien phenomenon which all and sundry know was initially an internal political machine created by local politician for the purposes of electoral victory, but which presently has been cornered by reactionary political elements who are using same to destabilise the that part of the country and consequently showcase the leadership as a weak one.
Without doubt the Nigerian military, under President Jonathan has been professionally repositioned both in morale and provision of modern combatant equipments backed with adequate training. Haaba Mbaka! You should have known better. Rather than blaming the current administration for the deterioration of our military, he should check the books to find out when last the time the military bought equipments, and those who were on the saddle when these decay started. Mbaka should exist beyond the pedestrianism he exhibited on the 1st of January 2015.
On corruption the entrepreneurial priest accused the President of running the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria. What he failed to tell his congregation was that the current administration has changed the medication for the societal plague called corruption from curative to preventive. Today, free money is not in circulation among corrupt persons because systemic machineries have been put in place for the prevention of embezzlement and over inflation of government expenditures. For those who are caught in the web of corruption, the laws of the land have specifications for the procedures with which they will be tried and possibly jailed. Though it is a good system, it is slow in bringing the culprits to book, however the President should not be blamed, as he is not the one who made the laws. Nigerians are on the know that without much media hype or make-believe corruption trials, this President has dealt severely with those under him who has soiled their hands in the common wealth of our great nation.
To many Mbaka sang his Swan song with his tirade at the dawn of January 2015, while for others he has lost his taste in calling. As In the words admonition handed down to us, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ stated “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Matt 5:13. For sure, the salt in Mbaka has lost its taste.