Friday, 21 May 2021: In the recent events that have ensued between Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, the Nigerian government, and the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, some crucial qualities have been emboldened by the trio. But the one that is most worthy of emulation is the unflappable composure of Bishop Calistus Onaga. He has indeed demonstrated a high level of spiritual maturity that is rare these days.
When controversy arose after Fr. Mbaka was thought to have been kidnapped by the Church on the order of the presidency, the demonstrations that followed were characterised by a level of barbarism and vandalism that is totally unbecoming of Christians. The level of disregard for the sanctity of God’s sanctuary displayed was saddening. Not to mention the disrespect suffered by the Bishop of the Diocese.
The protests were totally unjustifiable. There was no reason to suspect that the church will become political and fight her own on the command of a man, even if that man is the president. What transpired was simply an act of the church calling her own to order when she felt he was going wrong. Catholic Priests get such calls by the Bishop whenever the need arises, and Mbaka’s summon was no difference. His popularity cannot outplay church dogma. The church has sets of guiding principles that it goes by, and anytime there’s need to enforce these principles, regardless of who is involved, it must be done.
Bishop Calistus must be lauded for his religious and spiritual maturity in handling these matters and not letting his emotions get the better of him. He had enough impetus to rain curses down on the protesters and vandals; he could have reacted in anger for what they did. These people desecrated the house of God, Holy Ghost Cathedral, and the Bishop’s court. But as a caring father, he remained calm and refrained from uttering any words out of anger. Instead, he has seen the actions as been motivated by the devil. So, in his wisdom, he has directed the church to embark on a weeklong prayer retreat to reflect on their lives. That’s true religion; fighting the battle spiritually.
On the other hand, what better picture does young Catholic clerics, and indeed the whole nation has than the uncommon humility of the charismatic Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka? His compliance with the directive of the Bishop Calistus Onaga has shown the church and the world what true loyalty and submission to constituted authority is.
Given the followership he has amassed over the course of presiding over the Adoration Ministries, Enugu, Fr. Mbaka could easily flout the directive of the Bishop at no direct consequence to him. But that would be an ignoble thing to do. So, the famed cleric has chosen rather to oblige the Bishop’s order and take a one-month prayer retreat.
Following the Trail
To say Mbaka comes off as a controversial figure would be fair; as he has been very outspoken and has been in the news many times. Recently, he sparked nationwide reactions after he was summoned by the Bishop and announced missing barely 24 hours later. Mbaka was summoned by the Bishop supposedly over his exchange of words against the government, particularly Mr. President. In his words, “President Buhari has not shown that he is not part of the insecurity ravaging the country, you have to show that you are not part of the insecurity.
“President Buhari will suffer if he doesn’t change his ways. Was Abba Kyari not sent abroad for treatment? But what happened? He died.”
The cleric further said that “God will ask Nigerians: Nigerians why are you crying? We are crying because our leaders have failed us woefully. If it was in a civilised country, by now, President Buhari would have resigned. Quote me anywhere and let the whole world hear it. By now, with what is happening, President Buhari should honourably resign.
“What is the matter? Nigerians are crying, why? Because, there is no security in this country. The House of Representatives and the Senate should impeach the President if he doesn';t want to resign.
“If the members of these two Houses do not want to impeach him and they want to begin to fight Fr Mbaka, something worse than what they ever imagined will happen to the members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives. Disaster is coming!”
With such strong words, Fr. Mbaka was surely going to get into trouble. He may have been anticipating this, considering the unaccommodating nature of the present leadership. Shortly after this, the summon from the Bishop came and the protests followed hours later. The protesters destroyed the Bishop’s court and Holy Ghost Cathedral in Enugu.
After he resurfaced, he refuted claims that he was abducted, stating that he had only answered a summon by the church leadership. Days later, the cleric knelt down in a viral video apologising to the Catholic Bishop and the Catholic church, claiming the protests were hijacked and that he didn’t order the destruction of any property. This was barely a week before he announced the temporal shutdown of his Adoration Ministry for the period of one month.
It is also worthy of mention that he promised that the parishioners would in their large numbers decide on a day to go and apologise to the bishop over the destruction caused during the protest.
All these add up to show someone who has the pain of the masses at heart and is determined to speak out for the benefit of the majority—even if it comes at an expense. Mbaka has demonstrated in very real terms that he is a leader who is out for the truth, something the present administration lacks.