Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
In less than 36 hours since he publicly challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to rise up to the challenge of addressing the crisis facing the country, fiery Enugu Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka on Saturday engaged in a sudden volte-face and said the president was not the author of the hunger and hardship presently being faced by Nigerians.
The priest, who dismissed media reports about his attack on Buhari, was reportedly quoted as having asked the president to buckle up or risk being thrown out in 2019 insisting that Nigerians were dying of hunger.
But, in a statement he issued through his spokesman, Barr. Maximus Ike Ugwuoke, the cleric rather accused former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration of being responsible for the myriads of problems facing the country.
Mbaka maintained that he didn’t attack Buhari but told him the situation of things in the country and as well suggested ways out.
He stated that “the news headline is not only sensational but also a censorious media colouration and hype of the message of the cleric titled ‘Bless and Be Blessed’ for whatever ends.” While admitting that he lamented the level of hunger and suffering in the country, the fiery priest said it was followed by another message where he explained that Buhari was not responsible for the situation but the previous administration.
He declared that the ‘Bless and Be Blessed’ message that was misunderstood was followed by a message titled “Mega Change of Conditions”. According to him, the second message, where he absolved the President of blames over the hunger situation in the country read:
“There is sword that is moving about in the country. People are dying like flies. The sword of hunger is eating the land. And as I have told you this is just the beginning. If anybody is telling you it is going to be well very soon that person is deceiving you. This is because many of us were among those that were alive during the years of the past government. The past PDP government was a grasshopper and locust to Nigerian. The past government was a disaster to the land of Nigeria; the past government was cancer to this country. There is no need trying to cover their incalculable and iniquitous mess. If you don’t feel it now, you will feel it later.
“The impact of their horrific mess is yet to be felt. It was a regime where hooliganism became a political slogan; where looting became the order of the day; where the neglect of youths became a pattern of administration. The result is what we are passing through now. Hunger is everywhere; the hunger was created before this new government came in. Buhari is not the maker of the hunger.
“I am just telling president Buhari that people are hungry because he cannot not come to the street like me and notice people’s feelings. But Buhari is not the author of the hunger.
The past government planted the tree of hunger and they want to come back to water it. If it is in a developed country by now from the Senatorial to the Reps to the governors, all who participated in the last administration should have resigned with apologies to our youths, otherwise the youths one day will begin to stone them.
“The hunger was created during the Jonathan PDP administration but Buhari should abate the long procrastination, bureaucracy and slow methods in tackling it.”
Understand it very well. People will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Buhari is just an agent of change. The money in our treasury was nothing to write home about before this new regime came. The country was in an embarrassing mess.
“Apart from the petroleum that we sell and get money, what other means of foreign exchange do we have? The foundation of the Nigerian economy is oil which has now collapsed and the foundation once destroyed what will the just man do? Psalm 11:3. The past administration did not prepare this administration for this season. That is why the sword has risen. Many will die by this sword but there will be survivors.
“That is why I have been saying and I keep on saying that the past administration should publicly come to apologise to the Nigerians. They should not be foolhardy. They should not continue to perpetrate this type of iniquitous attitude planning about 2019 election for them to continue from where they stopped. All these years of Jonathan, nothing happened in Niger Delta specifically to be recorded in the annals of history. What a shame. What an embarrassment. The place where the oil has been coming from remained under-developed under a man from the same soil. If you go to Niger Delta today you will cry. But what worries me is that our people are good in shifting blames.
“Somebody entered your kitchen carried your pot of soup, entered your store and farm, raked everything in the store and farm and ran away. And another person enters the kitchen where there is no pot at all and you want the person to turn the kitchen into a magical kitchen that will produce a magical pot and a magical soup. Which soup?
“It will surprise the whole Nigerians to know that even after Buhari was a petroleum minister and a military president of the country, he had no oil bloc. Is it not a shock? Don’t you hear the quantum of money that is being recovered from one person? Buhari just came as a redeemer. I don’t know if the people of this country are hypnotised.
“How can we be fighting somebody who is fighting for us? Apart from this Buhari, how can somebody talk to these political juggernauts and tell them to bring back what they have stolen? It is only a Beniah personality like Buhari that can enter into the cave and catch a lion and kill a lion and come out. The president needs support. He doesn’t know where to begin because there are many holes dug for him by the past administration, and they carried the sand away expecting him to cover the holes with what?”
He maintained that contrary to the media report Fr. Mbaka “merely restated the obvious sufferings that Nigerian are facing (which even the president himself had at points acknowledged and sued for patience and perseverance) and advised the president on the ways to tackle it i.e. by engaging economic gurus and listening to good advisers.
“We wonder which portion of the message could be viewed as “an attack” or “bombing” of Mr. President as twisted in the media. The acclaimed message of the cleric to Mr. President to us is rather a further demonstration of the cleric’s love to see that the president succeeds in his messianic rescue operation mission in Nigeria and that is why it is devoid of hypocrisy.
“It is obvious that those who are arm-twisting the said message of the cleric to Mr. President as an attack on Mr. President are those who want the president to fail or be blindfolded so as to use the obvious hardship Nigerians are facing as a weak point of his administration to ride onto power mindless of the fact that Mr. President has done so well in fighting corruption and insurgency in the country, which are mega achievements that scores him above average in just few months of his administration.
“In the background of the message, Fr. Mbaka encouraged the gallant warrior, President Buhari, to continue his battle against corruption and insurgency, asserting that if not a man like President Buhari, by now people may have stopped going to church and mosques. Boko Haram might have wrecked this country. People might have equally stopped going to schools, markets etc. Kudos to Buhari. Fr. Mbaka revealed that corruption, insurgency and poor governance by past governments gave birth to three horrible children (1) Hunger (2) Anger (3) Danger.
“He asserted that Buhari is not the cause of corruption and insurgency yet he is fighting them frontally and enjoined the president to extend same to hunger even though he is not the cause. He pleaded the President to begin a War against Hunger, as many are dying hopelessly. He stressed that if the hunger, anger and danger continue, Nigerians may not vote for him again, as they would mistake him for the cause of these maladies while in fact he is a solution.
“Fr. Mbaka equally advised the President on being careful about how he appoints people to prominent positions, so that no region will appear marginalised – as happened in NNPC board and charged the President to make sure that those around him are not misguiding him. He advised the President on human empowerment and making sure that those who worked for him (Buhari) during the election ought to be empowered – as one good turn deserves another.
“For the purpose of clarity, granted that Fr Mbaka stated the obvious, that there is hunger in the land, he never attributed the cause of the hunger and economic hardship bedeviling the nation to Buhari; rather he attributed it to the offshoot of the actions and inactions of the past administrations of this country.
“We recall that earlier this year, Fr. Mbaka had during his New Year message predicted that hunger and hardship will come upon the country this year and so we wonder why this message should make a headline at this point of the year”, the statement concluded.