By Chukwuemeka Okechukwu
Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka is a name that has come to assume a good level of relevance even at the household level in Nigeria and beyond. The Enugu based cleric is the Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry, Enugu Nigeria (AMEN), and has been lauded as a veritable instrument through whom God has wrought countless miracles. Beyond the spiritual plane, Fr. Mbaka has been noted for talking tough in the face of political instability at the local, state and national levels in Nigeria.
It could be recalled that in 2015, precisely on the eve of 1st January, the fiery priest foretold the history-making defeat of a seating president, Goodluck Jonathan. At the time the prediction was made, it met the disapproval of many Nigerians and especially political analysts since there were no good signs to prove that such political revolution would see the light of day in Nigerian politics at the said time. ‘From Good luck to Bad luck’ which was the theme of the uncommon new year message given by Fr. Mbaka in 2015, could be loosely said to have become an important documentary in modern Nigerian politics since it heralded the coming into power of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari when most Nigerians did not see that coming. The 2015 prediction was spectacular in its style and audacity because it was almost unimaginable that the ruling party at the time will relinquish power to an opposition that has not always been there over the years, but had merely evolved at the time of the general polls. It was a new dawn for Nigerian politics, not necessarily in terms of competent leadership, but in the terms that sent the message that leadership of the country is not an exclusive right nor privilege.
Since the 2015 epochal prophecy, it has become almost customary for people to troop in their numbers to Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria on the 31st December of every year since they would prefer to hear the fiery words of the priest directly from him. It was not uncommon therefore that people gathered in their numbers on the eve of 1st January, 2020 to pray to of course, tap into the ministry of Fr. Mbaka. To the greatest surprise of many who were gathered, Fr. Mbaka made some pronouncements about Nigeria but his message had special emphasis on the political terrain of Imo State. In his words:
Many things are going to happen in Nigeria this 2020 that will shock countrymen and countrywomen, but all would be to God’s glory. In spite of all the hard time that would happen this 2020, there is hope. In Imo State, there is hope. Hope, hope, hope … hope in Imo State! Imo people have suffered but God is raising a new hope that would be an agent of salvation for them. He’s coming with a new flag to restore the dignity of that noble land. A new leadership that will break barriers and there would be joy in the land of Imo. Lift your candles as I bless Hope Uzodinma; and I empower him to, spiritually, to take over. How I do not know.Please, if you heard that there would be a new government in Imo and you don’t like the message; if I say, Hope, you can say hopeless but do not fight me. I am saying this in respect of those who may want to come after me because of the message. If you do that, the God of Moses, Elijah and Elisha will deal with you. I am only a messenger of God”.
This message was trailed with a whole lot of reservations as many dismissed it as unfounded arguing from the standpoint of how impracticable it is to have a court decision that will declare someone who was initially at the 4th position as the winner of the gubernatorial election in Imo State. Many argued that even if the results of the election were eventually voided in the court of law, it would most probably go in favour of the candidates who were in the 2nd and 3rd positions. As usual, Fr. Mbaka’s message was met with a whole lot of criticisms from the religious and political quarters.
However, the Supreme Court on Tuesday 14th January sacked Governor Emeke Ihedioha and announced the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma as the winner of the governorship election in Imo State March 2019. A seven-man panel of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, unanimously declared Hope Uzodinma as the winner of the March 9, 2019, governorship election and the validly elected governor of the state. Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the lead judgment, ordered that the certificate of return issued to Ihedioha be immediately withdrawn. She directed that a fresh certificate of return should be issued to Uzodinma. She also directed that Uzodinma must be immediately sworn in as the Governor of Imo State. This could be seen a direct confirmation of the predictions of Fr. Mbaka who has earlier said “Even though Ihedioha has won in a tribunal and at the Appeal Court, that doesn’t mean that he will triumph in Supreme Court enough of all this brouhaha…”
It is not uncommon for the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court to be welcomed with varying opinions and dispositions. For some people, the ruling of the court vindicates Fr. Mbaka as a man of God. Yet for others, it is a proof that Fr. Mbaka only functioned as a mouthpiece of the ruling party, APC, to predispose the people of Imo State for the decisions already made on their behalf. Whatever one’s submissions may be, the strange thing still remains that the Hope Uzodimma of APC actually came 4th in the election. Uche Nwosu of A.A who came 2nd withdrew his case in court for unknown reasons, while the case of Ararume of APGA who came 3rd was struck out by the court.Now, the big puzzle “is Mbaka’s statement a real “prophesy” or just “prediction” or was ‘privileged information’ leaked to him?
The intention is not to take sides on the content of the prophesy and its eventual purported fulfilment, there are reasons to reflect on the political waters of Nigeria once more to identify some matters that need urgent attention. The prophesy by Fr. Mbaka and the eventual ruling at the supreme court presents a formidable ground for a sober reflection.
A catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Abuja in a reflection he shared on his Facebook page with the theme ‘The Opium and the People’ in the late hours of Tuesday 14th January, 2020submitted thus;
Opium is a drug used to numb pain and help the patients sleep. The opium is like an anaesthetic. Anaesthetics are not curative, their function is to sedate a patient as he undergoes what could have been an unbearably painful treatment. Any patient given anaesthetics without curative procedures will soon become worse.
“Religion is the opium of the people” is a famous statement of Karl Marx. This is true, but relative. In other words, religion was not meant to be an opiate: a drug that numbs your pain but never treats it. Religion was meant to facilitate your relationship with your creator and help you deal positively with the supernatural dimension of reality. Don’t make it an opium because you become an addict if you do. You know what happens to addicts: the more of the substance they take the worse they become until they become destroyed completely. Every addiction is a convenient flight from a reality, a substitution of an uncomfortable truth with a convenient falsehood. Don’t let religion become an opium. An opium makes your FEELING BRAIN take absolute control with no regards to your THINKING BRAIN. It makes what you feel the reality, and feelings are not always accurate. When you hear a rousing sermon from a man of God asking you to give all your January earnings as first fruit so that your year will be prosperous, it’s your FEELING BRAIN that will be activated spontaneously and jump into the driving seat. There is no stats to establish that ‘first fruiters’ have better financial success in the year than others. Moreover God is not babalawo that demands things before the client gets help. Therefore, THINK. If you suspend the robust use of your THINKING BRAIN, religion becomes your opium, it makes you FEEL VERY GOOD but not good, it makes you FEEL RICH but you ain’t rich, it makes you FEEL like your destiny is in a ministry but it ain’t, it makes you FEEL like you are so special that your case is different from everyone’s but you ain’t, it makes you run away from confronting the harsh realities of life frontally.
The Supreme Court has sacked Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo state and ordered the swearing in of Hope Uzodinma. Some people are already blaming a certain priest while some are praising him depending on what camp they belong. That happens when you look at the issue from religious prism, which should’t. If the judgement of the Supreme Court is wrong and you accept it because of a certain ‘prophecy’, religion has become your opium and you are stuck in a rot. If the judgement is true but you reject it claiming that it was because of a certain ‘prophecy’ you are also high on the opiate of religion. Analyze the case from its pure legal, political and electoral angles and be informed. The little I know is that having the highest number of votes doesn’t necessarily win you an election, it takes more than that. I also know that the Nigerian judiciary is very funny, sometimes it panders to partisan politics as against jurisprudence. In Nigeria the judiciary falls victim of willing and unwilling manipulation by the political class. Now if we allow religion to distract us from these sad realities, we will not confront them frontally and call for the necessary changes. We have electoral bills waiting for presidential assent so that our elections will be better, we have issues of fiscal federalism, generation and distribution of resources, security etc that need radical attention, but religion seem to numb people from the pains these things inflict on us. Don’t let your religion be your opium, think it through, God gave us brain and that’s one thing that has stood human beings above other animals. Look at the electricity that your life depends on, it didn’t come out from 21 days fasting and prayer, it didn’t come from first fruits and tithe( as good as these are), it came from THINKING BRAIN. The car you drive, the phones you use, imagine your life now without phone, internet, car, fans etc, these things didn’t come by ‘prophecy’, they came from THINKING BRAINS, God blessed us with them through people who used their THINKING BRAIN. Such people did not make their religion an opium, you too shouldn’t. Let me come and be going.
There are reasons for Nigerians to get worried with the ruling made by the Supreme Court on the 2019 gubernatorial elections in Imo State. There is every reason to get bothered about the electoral process in Nigeria. If indeed it is proven that Hope Uzodinma that was initially declared at the 4th place truly was the winner at the elections, there is no gainsaying the fact that the electoral process in Nigeria is a sham. Nigerians must charge their elites and political leaders to rise up to the occasion and institute an effective electoral process because, leadership will never be right if the process of constituting such leadership is faulty.
Again, many Nigerians are of the opinion that the decision of the Supreme court was in line with the biddings of the ruling party, APC, as he who “pays the piper dictates the tone”. The judiciary of the country should be independent and should be the last resort of the masses in seeking justice especially in an environment where governance is adjudged democratic. If Nigerians are suspicious of their judiciary, then it is a pathetic tale since it indicates that democracy is merely a fantasy of governance on the Nigerian soil. Even if the rulings of the court about the Imo elections are correct, there are reasons to believe that the court seems to have played on antecedents that questions its credibility evidenced in the claims that her decisions are in favour of the ruling class. The Nigerian judiciary must rise up to the demands of the time and win back the trust and confidence of the masses whose hope is reposed in her.
It is time Nigerians seek deeper analysis of happenings around them and not merely appreciating them at the facial worth and value. The Fr. Mbaka prophesy sends a deeper message beyond seeking its truism or falsehood; it calls for a deeper analysis and urgent evaluation of politics as it is practiced in Nigeria.