Fr. Mbaka: The making of a fiery priest

FROM childhood, Rev. Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka, the spiritual director of Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Nigeria (AMEN), showed traces of one that would be unique.
Born into a poor family of a palm wine tapper of a father, Fr. Mbaka was not discouraged as he helped out his fa­ther in his vocation with which the fam­ily was sustained.
A search into the humble beginning and make-up of the stature of Fr. Mbaka took Saturday Sun to his ancestral home in Amata, Ituku, in Awgu Local Govern­ment Area of Enugu State.

Amata is a sleepy village tucked be­hind the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku/Ozalla and hidden from the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway.
At Amata, nobody talks anything bad of Fr. Mbaka who the villagers see as their shining light.
Thus, they view with suspicion any­body who comes to make enquiry about the fiery Catholic priest whose popular­ity has soared in the country and beyond because of his uncommon prophecies and philanthropy.
Therefore, when this reporter came into Amata, the youths quickly gath­ered on learning that Fr. Mbaka was the reason for the journey and demanded pronto, what the enquiry was all about.
Subsequent discussions revealed why Fr Mbaka was loved by his people, from the young to the old, the traditional in­stitution to the church, his family mem­bers and close associates: whose lives he had touched positively in one way or the other.
To some of them, Fr. Mbaka is not only a prophet of God, but also a mys­tery man. Mbaka had become very pop­ular as he had never spared any erring government in power, starting from his home state, Enugu.
He once had a running battle with a former governor of the state, Dr Chima­roke Nnamani even as he did not spare the immediate past Governor Sullivan Chime during his second tenure when he felt the governor was derailing.
This fearless nature, he carried to the national level when on December 31, 2014, he prophesied that former Presi­dent Goodluck Jonathan would be de­feated in the 2015 presidential election because of his inability to pilot the affairs of the nation well.

His prophecy came at a time nobody imagined the incumbent, and dominant Peoples Democratic Party, PDP could lose an election.

With a very large followership who troop into Enugu from all parts of the country for his Friday weekly adora­tion service, where prayers, healings and miracles, take place, the young priest has become a household name in the country. However, at Amata, it was a herculean task getting the immediate members of his family to talk about him.

His uncle, Paul Mbaka, who was ex­cited by the care and love Fr. Mbaka had shown him and his brother, was able to tell this reporter that the priest built the two modern bungalows for him and his brother both of whom are of the same parents with Fr. Mbaka’s father. Elderly Paul Mbaka was able to disclose that as a child, Fr. Mbaka was very humble and would always help the elderly in the vil­lage to do some household chores. He was still narrating his story when the women from the compound came and shut him up.

Here are the encounters that un­masked the fiery priest.

His childhood

Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka was born in 1967 to a poor palmwine tapper, Mazi Ogbuefi, and Mrs. Felicia Mbaka, of Amata, one of the smallest villages in Ituku Community, Awgu Local Govern­ment Area of Enugu State. His mother was the second wife of Mazi Ogbuefi who was in search of a male child as the first wife gave birth to only females. For some reasons which could not be ascer­tained, his mother’s marriage to Mazi Ogbuefi could not last as she left with her little child at a very tender age. Feli­cia who has long re-married in the neigh­bouring Agbogugu Community recalled that from childhood she observed that her son was a special child.

Her words: “He was never sick; and throughout the war he never suffered any of the common ailments that af­fected most children.”

She said that she was surprised at the rising profile of Fr. Mbaka though she had expected him to be great, but never knew it would be of the present magni­tude. “He was a very smart young boy who had readymade reply to anything you told him. He was exceptional,” she said. The young Mbaka, according to his mother, was a quiet and peaceful per­son who never looked for trouble; saying that “if you look for his trouble he will give it back to you.”

His early education

Though Mr George Okafor, a retired teacher at Central School Ituku, where Rev. Fr. Mbaka did his primary educa­tion did not teach him, he nevertheless knew him as a very humble and hard working boy.

“He lived in the village and schooled here at Central School Ituku. Almost all the developmental projects in the com­munity, he contributed much to them. even this church here, he is the person building that Church. He has many of our sons and daughters on his schol­arship and he has employed many of our sons. These village roads he used to grade them every year; the Central school building he replaced the roof af­ter it was blown off by the wind. He is a blessing to us,” Okafor said. Also Chief and godfather to Fr. Mbaka, who also taught at Central school, said that he knew him as a child in the primary school. “I knew him starting from his childhood days; he came from a poor family. His late father’s name was Ogbuefi Mbaka. He is the only son his mother bore for Ogbuefi Mbaka. He attended his secondary school at former St. Vincent Agbaogugu; from there, he joined the seminary school and wa later ordained a Catholic Priest at St. Anthony Catholic Church, Ituku. He was a noble boy; he did what evDamian Ugwueneh, a retired teacher erybody loved as a child from a poor family; he lived a poor life. ­

“Co-incidentally, when he went to have his first baptism; the Rev. Father there refused to baptize him as he said that the brother cannot be his godfather and I took up the task to be his godfa­ther as long as he was from Ituku. He is a good son of Ituku; son of the soil; noble son of the soil; very active and enjoyable son of Ituku,” Ugwueneh said.

Also, Mr Ambrose Okonkwo, re­tired headmaster was not Mbaka’s immediate class teacher, but he was a teacher in the school while Mbaka was in the primary school. He recalled that during his primary school days Fr. Mbaka wasn’t too clever as he is today.

For him, Fr. Mbaka’s brilliance and cleverness all emanated from the seminary, Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Umuahia. “So, when he came back here we saw him as super intelligent human being; I am always afraid to meet him because before you say any­thing he already knows what you are going to say. If you ask him a ques­tion he has known what to answer. He wasn’t the type of pupil who fought in school, in fact, I can’t remember ever flogging him; I had never got­ten a report against him. Because if anybody disturbed in the school, they would report to me and I would treat the case. He wasn’t a trouble maker; he was the quiet type, but was always anxious and eager to be part of what is happening.

“Before he secured admission into the seminary he was known for his religious activities; most prominent of his activities then was his block rosary crusade where he gathered children and prayed with them. So, that was how he started his life and his parents didn’t sanction his desire to go for priesthood. They never approved of it; they did everything possible to stop him. Before he left, the few baggage he went away with were taken away from his place by his block rosary members. The day he was going he just left; his father was there but didn’t know what was happening.

“By the time he realized what was happening he did everything humanly possible; he went to all the big native doctors he knew that could bring him back. Even the week he was being or­dained his father took ill and was taken to the hospital. Luckily for them, he recovered on the day of ordination and he had no alternative than to show his presence. The mother who was no lon­ger living with the man at the time was also there; and that was the first time the two of them were coming together and they sat on the front row of this church St. Anthony Catholic Church Ituku,” Okonkwo said.

Mbaka in the eyes of Ituku community leaders

His Royal Highness Igwe Cle­tus Owo (Ubatuoke 111 of Ituku) is Mbaka’s traditional ruler; he would not mince words to say the fiery priest was one of the most illustrious sons in Ituku land.

“For God to have given us some­body like Fr. Mbaka, we are grateful to Him. Since 1995, when he was ordained priest we started experienc­ing changes in the community; both in the lives of the youths and equally the elders by empowering them with the word of God. From there he started rising; I must not forget to tell you that he started his Christian life from childhood; let me say from day-three of his birth. He was the leader of most groups in the church from his tender age and he grew up that way.

“He continued like that throughout his primary school and at his second­ary school he expanded and decided to go for priesthood. But he suffered so much because there was no money to train him; people continued to con­tribute, 2 kobo, 3kobo. Even people outside my community kept on help­ing and he was lucky to be ordained a priest. I remember what Fr. Stephen Njoku, who I call his mentor, said the day he was ordained. Father Njoku said at St. Anthony Ituku, that ‘Ituku has something; that what is inside this small boy is greater than what we the parents knew. That this boy ordained today is a great man. That he is equally afraid of him’; these were his words to our people after Fr. Mbaka’s ordina­tion. That was the day he asked Fr. Mbaka to tell his people what he will do for them; ‘tell your people what you will do for them because you are going to be a great man.’ There and then he promised that he will build a Catholic Church in our place; he has fulfilled that promise. He single-handedly built the church building at St. Anthony, Ituku, where he was ordained.

“Since his ordination our commu­nity has changed. In those days, we used to have only about two persons that had cars; two cars in the entire community. But since his ordination every compound has at least one car. Because he was praying that our peo­ple are very poor; he normally holds a prayer for the community every Janu­ary 2nd and his cry to God to help his people out of poverty is manifesting. Today, people are building duplexes, beautiful houses in Ituku; people are buying SUVs, before now it was Peu­geot 504. Today, we also have about 100 graduates in Ituku and 75 per cent of that number is to his credit. In the secondary school, he is paying fees for almost everybody. I don’t know how to describe him… what he is after is how to improve the lives of the poor people. People will want to come and build this and that for him, he will say no, please bring that money; there are people that have no houses; there are people that are hungry; let us use that money and empower them,” the tradi­tional ruler said.

Chief Laz Owo, Chairman, Amaokolo Development Union

The good testimonies about Fr Mbaka did not stop with what the tra­ditional ruler said as the Chairman of Amaokolo Development Union, Chief Laz Owo added to the long list.

“Mbaka is a true manifestation of God’s love to Ituku town. Who could have known Ituku or Amata village if not for his sake? He is the first son of Mazi Ogbuefi Mbaka; a palmwine tapper who like Ituku town would not been allowed to have Fr. Mbaka as a son if the gift of man were the gift of God. He had his primary education at Central School Ituku where he as a pu­pil had much passion for Virgin Mary.

“He organized block rosary groups in all the nine villages in Ituku. He went round the villages preaching God and condemning idol worship­ping. The children he grew up with did not understand or comprehend what he preached because he reasoned far above his age. As a student he attended Ituku town union meetings where he addressed both his father and other elders of the town. The elders com­mented that the boy should be watched to know what was in him because he wasn’t just ordinary. He continued with the block rosary until he entered the seminary. He grew up in the hands of his father Mazi Ogbuefi Mbaka who became puzzled by his opting to be a priest.

“As a seminarian he returned home, tapped palmwine with his father; cut palm heads for palm oil and palm ker­nel. He equally cut palm fronts for the domestic animals his father had. The only problem is that some people, very few do not understand him. They re­fused to know that he is a prophet of God; they ask why should he come from Amata village one of the smallest villages in Ituku. Why must it be the son of Ogbuefi Mbaka who they know very well as a poor palmwine tapper? I advise this group of people to allow God to complete the good work He started through the young priest. This type of gift comes once in a century; let the will of God be done,” the town union chairman said.

Mbaka the seminarian

Rev. Fr. Jonathan Nweke, from Awgu Catholic Diocese and Rector St. Vincent de Paul Minor Seminary was at the seminary with Fr. Mbaka. His words: “I have known Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka for a very long time; ini­tially when he entered the seminary, St. Cross Seminary Nsukka about 1986/87 academic year, we were together for about a year. What you see didn’t just start today; what you see today is what we observed many years back over 20 years ago. This is a man who didn’t do minor semi­nary; he studied here at St. Vincent Agbogugu. Eventually, when he came into the seminary to do the one year orientation probation, here was a man who was known within this so short a time as a man who was very generous; a prayerful and quiet man.

“He is one person that is loved by almost all the students which is not very usual because people who come in from secondary schools often feel intimidated because they are new in seminary. But this is a guy who came and was loved by the students; at the time he was leaving you saw so many people were affected that they were losing a friend. His generosity was beyond measure; he was generous with his time, was generous with other things that he had. He was actually very poor that time so he had no money to give. But from the little he had it was surprising that he was ready to give.

“There was one man he visited that gave him a little pocket money yet he was able to share from that little pocket money with me and with others. So, his generosity is one thing that stands out; I could also trace this generosity back to his family. His father then was not a Christian; his father was a palm wine tapper but when we the semi­narians will come round his place, Fr. Mbaka then doesn’t drink alcohol; but his father had that culture that he will always keep some kegs of palm wine for people that visit him. So, I was one of those who benefitted so much from those visits.

“Actually, I loved to visit him be­cause as at that time he was the best palm wine tapper in town. So, that generosity of Mbaka started way back then that he will always share with you the little that he has; its normal when you have more you could give, but this is a man that will use his little resourc­es to help you. “So, the things about him that has been with him from his seminary days have been his generos­ity, his prayerful life, his friendliness, his compassion for people; he is ex­ceptional. So, when I see these things having blossomed now as a priest, it’s not anything new, it has only taken a larger scale; and we see that his sense of generosity is beyond measure. All my life I am yet to see a priest who is so generous, has touched the lives of people. Not people he has known but people from all walks of life 90 per cent of whom he never knew; yet al­ways willing to give service to human­ity. This is faith in action and I see this man as a man who has faith in God,” Nweke said.

Also Rev Fr. Nweke believes that there are two ways to look at Mba­ka’s prophecies and politics unlike those who criticize him outrightly.

“On one side, Fr. Mbaka is a prophet and God has given him gifts and he can’t even hide those gifts even if he wants to. When we look at the Bible, for instance, when God sent Jonah to Nineveh with a mis­sion; Jonah taught himself smart and decided to run away but unfortunate­ly, something happened that brought him back to the place he was running awayfrom. So, sometimes I see Fr. Mbaka issue as that of a prophet that has a call by God. So, if God has giv­en this man a prophecy to make he is bound to make them if not he suf­fers for it. So, if God has called him and we see his prophecies…it’s not just about politics, everything about life; and these prophecies are com­ing true. For instance, in the recent one ‘from good luck to bad luck’ that caused a lot of commotion and people were calling him politician and stuff like that, it’s only because people don’t understand who a priest is. As a priest he has priestly roles and prophetic roles and he is bound to exercise them. So, I wouldn’t say he is a politician because he is being prophetic because he is a priest or­dained to be so.

“If God gives me the gift of proph­ecy I will do what he is doing exact­ly. But we have our different gifts; so that I don’t have that gift does not mean I should be jealous or condemn another who has that. God has given him gift and he is using those gifts to the glory of God. On the other side, man is a political animal and we can­not because he is a priest take away what makes him a human being. So, Fr. Mbaka reserves the right like every other person to speak about matters that concerns us. So, if God gives him that gift by every means he should use them; and if he uses them like every prophet, you like them, you don’t like them, it doesn’t matter. But a prophet is a prophet of God; it’s just like a bridge; he gets a message and transmits. So, it’s not like he is making those messages up himself because we have seen them come true. People that called him fake prophets who actually now is the false prophet. Why do people condemn voices of prophets? Grant­ed there are people who are fake, but we have seen for real that this man is not doing this for material gain.

“By the way what does this man have for himself? This is a man who has outdone almost every other per­son in generosity; so if any resources come around him you see people benefitting from them. For instance, in this school he is paying the school fees of so many indigent seminar­ians here and 99 per cent of them he doesn’t know them, he had never seen them. But these are people he pays for and they are in school today is because of Fr Mbaka’s generosity. I have not seen anything that will make me succumb to people calling him names; it’s only that sometimes we have jealousy; when somebody is so blessed people try to pull him down. But if we are reasonable and we have faith in God let us support God’s work. Same way every other Catholic priest gets involved with­out appearing partisan or inciting its parishioners. Now, imagine if every Catholic priest becomes partisan… by partisan I mean leaning to a par­ticular political party what will our churches be like?”

His prophecies/ politics

One of Fr Mbaka’s godsons, Hon. Val Nnadozie, an Enugu-based poli­tician said that once one is ordained a priest, three things are given to one: “First is that you are a priest, second­ly, you are a prophet and thirdly, you are a king. Being a priest means that you have to take care of the spiritual life of your congregation; as a proph­et you get inspiration and messages from God for you to pass unto His people. Thirdly, you are made a king so as to be fearless; you can talk to the high and mighty. I am a Catho­lic so understand it from that stand point. Having that as a background the things that Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka has prophesied over time I sincerely believe are things he was asked to tell the people.

“For instance, the following morning after the prophecy of 31st December 2014, we had this conver­sation and he told me that things he said were not the things he prepared to say; that somehow something came upon him and he started say­ing things that were different from what he prepared to say as a ser­mon. As a priest you are made to take care of the spiritual life of your congregation; how do you take care of the people given to you if they are hungry; if they are deprived; if they don’t have anybody to speak for them. How do they praise God, how do they turn to God if they have things that are obstacles in their way? They can’t afford to feed; they can’t afford to pay their children’s school fees, they can’t afford to pay house rents, how does one expect that kind of person in that situation to praise God?

“So, I see it from this aspect of God has sent a Joseph to come and liberate His people; to save them in time of hunger. The issue here is who will speak for us; who will go for us? On the night of December 31st, 2014, he prophesied that former President Goodluck Jonathan would lose election; another instructive thing he said was that ‘if your own brother would cause you harm and death, and somebody who is not re­lated to you will make things better for you, who would you go for?’ I believe strongly that those messages came from God because the ones we witnessed have come to pass. “I am a practical example also; I had kid­ney failure and I know I am the only person that has survived that through the Holy Ghost. I did not have sur­gery, I did not have transplant and I got healed by payers. I had eight years of bareness in my house, I had gone through everything; I had gone through IVF two to three times, none worked, prayer worked for me. So, why shouldn’t I believe when I am a primary beneficiary,” Nnadozie said.

For Mr. Osita Okechukwu, anoth­er Enugu politician and APC South East spokesman “I see Mbaka’s prophecy as providential; it’s God’s prophecy because it came to pass; that Muhammadu Buhari as he pre­dicted has become president. And as Fr. Mbaka has said, that he had noth­ing against the then President Jona­than or against the wife; that all he had seen is that things are ruptured so much that we need a change; we need a revival of the country. And even when he met Buhari he told him that he had to pray for him be­cause some traducers are after his life and then some people in government are also not with him. I think it is providential because nobody can ac­cuse him of taking bribe, nobody can accuse him of sectionalism or being a religious bigot because Buhari is not a Christian. So, he has escaped the two most important factors that people use against public affairs speakers like him.

“So, to me, what he did is God’s message; and then for those who criticize him I am not surprised about that because those who were benefit­ting from the status quo have to de­fend the status quo; you don’t expect them to say that the status quo should go away. Throughout history change is always resisted; the people resist change because they benefit no mat­ter the rot. And luckily let me say that Rev. Fr. Mbaka has been vindicated; if President Buhari did not come to power nobody will know the kind of money that was distributed out of the funds for procurement of weapons for troops at war. To me, Mbaka is vindicated; he has been proven right; the message was clearly God’s mes­sage. “Those who changed Latin America; those who made Pinochet to fall in Chile, they were what they call liberation theologists; most of them were Catholic priests; so it’s not a new thing in the Catholic king­dom to have liberation theologists. So, he is a theologian; he belongs to the liberation spectrum of the great Catholic Church. So, he is not a poli­tician he is a liberation clergy who is not afraid to tell those in power the truth; they are very rare in the Chris­tian community and the clergy.”

According to Jane frances Nweze, Enugu-based public affairs com­mentator, “ Rev. Fr. Mbaka went overboard with his 2016 prophecy not necessarily because he is not a true man of God, but if his proph­ecy is supposed to be for the nation, it’s supposed to be what will hap­pen in the nation. Saying that God revealed to him that the president is going to be attacked because of his war against corruption is ridiculous because everybody knows there is a tendency that he would be attacked. Attacking him doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to be killed or not, it’s more definite or more of a proph­ecy to say that the president would serve out his four-year-term or the president will not live out 2016. But when you say he is going to be at­tacked it’s inciting certain section of the public because everybody will turn to the opposition party as being the possible culprit. Also that proph­ecy doesn’t have anything for our nation; what do we benefit having the information that he is going to be attacked. I think his prophecy should target things that will bring about the salvation of his people; I guess eco­nomic salvation is part of it maybe that’s why he is indirectly involved in politics but somehow he needs to tread carefully knowing he is a char­ismatic leader with great follower­ship. He should be careful not to take advantage of that because instead of yielding good fruit it may backfire and turn around and bite each of us. I don’t follow him, I don’t even care about what he says but there are a whole lot of people outside Enugu who actually follow him and are in­terested in the things he says. So, he has to be careful not to mislead them and secondly not to set the nation in some tension we may not find easy to come out of.”


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