Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, the controversial (and some say political) Enugu-based Catholic priest has been strangely silent about the difficulties many Nigerians and, indeed, his followers are enduring under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Mbaka made a highly charged intervention during the last presidential campaign, in which he told his congregation that then president Goodluck Jonathan had brought “bad luck” for Nigeria. Since Buhari won the (s)election, Mbaka has visited the president at Aso Rock, Abuja and has also hosted Aisha Buhari, the president’s wife in Enugu.
The charismatic priest claimed that Buhari is good news for Nigeria and that the president and his family “want to give and not take” from the country. But that was then – during the honeymoon period for the new administration.
Nine months into Buhari’s tenure, Nigerians are becoming restless as the “change” Buhari promised has turned into what Ebenezer Babatope called “change to poverty”. Petrol is in perilously short supply and the scarcity has lasted for about two months – longer than ever in recent memory. Power supply is just as bad. The naira has plumbed to previously unseen depths in value and the economy is tanking.
On top of all this, the menace of Fulani herdsmen, killing more Nigerians than Boko Haram, has grown exponentially since Buhari’s return to power and he has largely ignored the issue. Security agencies have committed mass murder against Shia civilians in Zaria and killed unarmed Biafran separatists in Aba. “Pharaoh” Buhari has been accused of insensitivity towards the plight of Nigerians as he spends a lot of his time globetrotting. But rather than act like Moses against the hardened heart of “Pharaoh” Buhari, Mbaka has instead kept a very low profile.
Several Nigerians on social media wondered whether the priest has been embarrassed into silence and wrestling with his conscience for being such an overzealous supporter of Buhari.
A source close to the priest didn’t agree and indicated that: “Since he moved to his new site, he has been busy building the house he will live in”. Mbaka was “transferred” controversially by the Catholic Church from Christ the King Parish, GRA, Enugu, where he was based for over a decade and had established a popular prayer ministry, the “Adoration Prayer Ministry”, to a parish in Emene, the outskirts of Enugu in February this year.
Mbaka was Moses-like about his move: “The quantum of the assets of the Adoration Ministry is the only thing I am bothered about. Where am I going to keep them? I am going to stay in one small room that has only one small bed, one small table, little toilet and bathroom. So where am I going to keep all the Adoration assets? My clothing and books I can keep in the car or somebody’s house, but where will I keep these assets that I have given to the Catholic Church of Enugu? But I say, may God take the glory and whoever that has offended me, I have forgiven. I won’t fight anybody or even dream of battling anybody. If anybody allows the devil to use him, the same that advised you to make a mistake will laugh at you when you cry over the error. The baby is born, there is no going back. We are moving out. We have been doing it and we will do it again. Moses was going out with a rod in his hand, Mbaka is moving out with his Bible and this nobody can take away from me”.
It remains to be seen how “Moses” Mbaka would react to the plagues of crimes against humanity, insecurity, fuel scarcity, power shortages, and economic ruin, as the Promised Land that he saw with Buhari turns into a wilderness, with a lot of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.