Chimezie Ogenna Nwodo
In the year 2001, just two years into an administration many have described as bloody, the brainiac Chimaroke Nnamani, the former Governor of Enugu State had his name written in black ink, in the book of the inhabitants of hell. Who was the writer? Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, a priest of the Catholic Church and the administrator of the self-styled Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria (AMEN).
Young and fiery, the priest kept the former Governor, perennially, at the top of his critique list, never to be brought down. His pulpit at AMEN which then convoked at the field of Government Technical College, GRA, Enugu, was a fertile ground from where he tirelessly launched his missiles against the then Governor, after which his infantile and zealot foot soldiers will mill around the city with hand grenades of allegations after each week’s ministration. Mbaka’s allegations against the government of the day were numerous; ranging from misdemeanors to capital offenses, and san proofs. He had once alleged that the former Governor had sent men of the underworld after him, their only mission being to ensure that he is permanently retired to the world beyond before his Ministry would ever move to the permanent site, at the behest of the former Governor – and but for the Bible, he wielded, which had the capacity to magnet bullets, he won’t be here today criticizing anyone who decides not to buy into his scam.
And one night, the camel’s back broke.
The residents of Enugu woke up to a morning devoid of peace. There had been a stampede the night before at Adoration ground. People died, including a pregnant woman. Of course, Mbaka found a worthy scapegoat. Your guess is right – the ‘enfant terrible’ of a Governor. And this was the point of departure for the many battles the Governor and his administration will face.
I remember, quite vividly, how the palpable peace in the quiet city of Enugu was decimated in the coming days. Ejike Mbaka and his fanatical followers stomped the tars and sands of Enugu in a needless protest, nay mock burial, of the former Governor. A casket with the pictures of the former Governor was carried around the city. And they chanted: “Chimaroke, o ji ọbara a ṅụ tea!” —”Chimaroke, the one who takes his tea with blood!” As a young chap at Uwani Secondary School, I remember joining the frenzy. It was easy too; for nearly every establishment Ejike Mbaka passed with his mammoth crowd closed down. By the time he got to Uwani Secondary School, nearly all of us, young and impressionable, joined his ‘triumphant passage’. With the benefits of hindsight, and of better knowledge, it is curious, how a Governor who was seemingly notorious for breaking laws – and bones – allowed such a protest, a permanent attack on the dignity of his person, in an Era when people in power abused Human Rights without batting an eyelid – and without consequences. Of course, looking back, he ought to be canonized or at least, be awarded a Nobel Prize for peace.
But then, even as a young person, it was not difficult for me to consider Ejike Mbaka as an unserious attention-seeker. And now, I seem to have a better word – charlatan; and his antecedents would fail to dissuade me from that choice of word. During the mock burial in 2001, Ejike Mbaka had pontificated that Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani was already a walking dead; that within one year to follow, his real burial would have been concluded. Later, at the conclusion of his tenure as Governor, and while seeking to be elected to the Senate, Ejike Mbaka had boasted that Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani had no chance. In fact, he said, and I dare to quote, “if Chimaroke goes on win election for his second tenure, I will remove my suthan and cease to be a priest of a true God!” He made a similar utterance when Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani sought for the first time, to represent Enugu East Senatorial District at the Red Chambers. Yes, this was before the internet which now constantly and effortlessly culls up our past. So, I expect him to deny it. But those with a good memory will remember. When eventually Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani became ill after his first sojourn to the Senate, Ejike Mbaka mocked him, we remember. Well, needless to say, two decades after the mock burial and proclamations or rather, pontification of his death, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani is hale and hearty and gearing to return to the Senate for a record third term – and, if you must know, Ejike Mbaka clutches tightly to his Suthan – the only thing that ensures the perpetuation of his scam, in God’s name. Unlike Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, many politicians did not survive the toxic message flying off the altar of Ejike Mbaka. I believe Governor Ikedi Ọhakim will tell the story better. I dare say that God who, in His omniscience, knows what every man deserves, just like his name portends, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani has been vindicated by God.
Looking back, I can say that Mbaka’s messianic posture could have caused that stampede at the Adoration ground. Being a practicing Catholic, I frequented Corpus Christi processions at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, in Enugu. At one of such religious gatherings, the overzealous followers of Ejike Mbaka after the religious event ended, while chanting “Daadii!!!” (Daddy), in a bid to touch their messiah, caused a stampede that nearly caused the death of a pregnant woman who was also trying to touch the garb of the recalcitrant priest.
I also remember that Ejike Mbaka would not allow the successor to Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani to drink water and keep cup. Ejike Mbaka’s puerile criticisms did not elude him also. In fact, Ejike Mbaka had endorsed and openly campaigned for Mr. Valentine Nnadozie for the seat of the Governor of Enugu State. We know how that ended. And what was the sin of the quiet and amiable Sullivan Chime? His only sin was being ‘selected’ by Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani to succeed him. Apparently, the present Governor, His Excellency, Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, a Chief proponent of political ecumenism, came to power, armed with a lot, including the pills of Ejike Mbaka. Don’t ask me what the pills are.
And with Mr. Peter Mba gearing to succeed Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who apparently, Ejike Mbaka dares not criticize – and whose political genealogy can also be traced back to Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, there is then the urgency to canonize Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, two decades after. More urgent, is the need to maintain fecund patronage seeing that a government with which he enjoyed unlimited entrance into the Government House at Enugu is about to exit and possibly take over, is one whose grandfather is most likely going to ensure that the gate of the Government House is shut, nay slammed in his face, hence the urgent need to restrategize. Sadly, Ejike Mbaka does not know Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. For Ejike Mbaka, it is all about access to the corridors of power – and yes, lucre.
And, as he praises a Peter who has no proven track record in public service and management of public funds, he pillories another Peter who has an impeccable and unimpeachable record of management of public funds. And why? The second Peter is stingy! It does not matter to Ejike Mbaka that this second Peter has a record of verifiable donations, running into millions of Naira, to missionary schools. It does not matter to him that this particular Peter left a verifiable amount of money running, into millions of dollars for Anambra State at the expiration of his tenure as Governor. It does not matter to Mbaka that this particular Peter is obviously the best amongst the Frontliners for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hence, the yearning of the masses that he becomes President.
Apparently, Mbaka is counseling his foolish followers to sell their votes to the highest bidders and suffer the incidental misgovernance that would follow. Well, to be fair to him, if I were in his position, I would make such an argument and proposition. For just like his followers, Mbaka is also jostling for survival and he is certain, just like I am, that if many Nigerians cross the Rubicon, into sustainable prosperity, as Peter Obi promises, he will have fewer people to rant before every Wednesday – or is it Friday now?
During the EndSARS protest that shook Enugu and many cities in Nigeria, I cannot remember Ejike Mbaka rendering his voice to the demand of the teeming youth who are victims of police brutality and perpetual misgovernance. I wish someone could jog my memory in that regard – maybe he’s so dead to me that I can’t see any good he does.
I pray that one day, the people will wake up and realize that Ejike Mbaka is an enemy of the people and one of the malevolent forces holding them down.
As long as the money does not get to Mbaka’s altar, feats like that of Peter Obi pales. It, therefore, presupposes that you can steal your State blind and retain your Sainthood as long as the loot gets to Mbaka’s altar. And for his failure to understand Mbaka’s body language or kowtow to his irreligious shenanigans, Peter Obi ought to be demonized. And Ejike Mbaka, in his selective myopia, easily forgot that the Peter he now praises played major roles in the government he fought two decades ago. And today, the person at the helm of that – to use his words – “wicked and demonic government” in which this first Peter served is now a Saint, and of course, the entire members of the Ebeano family, must share that Sainthood, rather vicariously. Wonderful but laughable.
Peter Mba should learn not to trust Ejike Mbaka or anything that looks like him. If he does, clearly, he has not learned enough from Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani. Well, I do not expect that Mbaka would enjoy in Peter’s administration if it comes to be, the patronage he enjoys in the current government – and for obvious reasons.
Many are the atrocities of Ejike Mbaka against the people he claims he speaks for. One of the most recent is ensuring that the current APC government at the Federal level cruised to power. But then, do I blame Ejike Mbaka? Not entirely. I blame his Bishop who lack the capacity to rein in a priest who perseveres in error and of course, politicians, including Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, who could not invest massively in the proper education of the populace and human capital development which would have shrunk the followership of Ejike Mbaka and people of his ilk; and eventually tamed his rabble-rousing tendencies.
Lest I forgot, Saint Chimaroke Nnamani of Ebeano Province, pray for us!
Chimezie Ogenna Nwodo, Esq, a legal practitioner, writes from Abuja.