On Friday, the Presidency mocked Fr Ejike Mbaka, Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry in Enugu, for criticising the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), for allegedly failing to contain insecurity and wanton killings of Nigerians by banditry gangs.
The Presidency attributed Mbaka’s criticism of the President to Buhari’s decision to deny the cleric’s contract offer.
Mbaka, who backed the President in the 2015 and 2019 elections, reversed his position on Wednesday, calling on Buhari to resign or be impeached for failing to do anything to address widespread insecurity.
With the recent outbreak of violence across the world, the cleric warned his congregation that no civilised leader should remain in power.
He regretted Buhari’s ability to maintain grave silence in the face of widespread brutality and the deaths of Nigerians.
“How can people be dying as the country’s chief security officer sits without doing anything?” Gunmen are shooting people all over the place. Following his (alleged) failure as a leader, Buhari should have resigned honourably.
“Let me tell you, in a civilised world, President Buhari would have resigned by now. But it’s incredible that he’s chosen to sit tight when people are dying on a regular basis,” he said.
Mbaka also urged the National Assembly to impeach the President, claiming that Nigerians were suffering from extreme poverty and insecurity.
However, the Presidency lashed out at Mbaka on Friday, claiming that the cleric was upset because Buhari turned down a contract offer from him.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said this in a statement titled, ‘Father Mbaka is everything but what he claims to be.’
“An outsider distilling the avalanche of verbiage would be shocked that after helping the President twice to win the Presidency, Father Mbaka has made a complete U-turn, preposterously asking President Buhari to resign or be impeached,” the statement read.
“Here is where things start: Father Mbaka requested a meeting, and to the surprise of presidential aides, he arrived accompanied by three contractors. The President graciously invited them in, and to everyone’s surprise, Father Mbaka requested contracts in exchange for his assistance.
“Anyone who is acquainted with President Buhari knows that he does not break the rules when it comes to contracts or any other government business. He asked the relevant authorities to handle the situation in compliance with the law.
“Within the Villa, secrecy reigned supreme, fearing that if the images and demands were made public, the followers would turn against the religious leader. None of it was made public. This is what is killing Father Mbaka right now.”
Many Nigerians, however, dismissed the Presidency’s argument, saying there was nothing wrong with the cleric’s request for contracts as long as he was a Nigerian and fit for the role.
“While I cannot independently check this storey (the Presidency’s claim), I believe we can now see the monsters in charge of Nigeria,” said Twitter user @firstladyship.
“When they are forced to resign or be impeached, they turn to cheap threats in order to gain public sympathy. Via Mallam Garba Shehu, the Presidency has once again reached out to their supporters by virtue signalling. This worries me in terms of morality.”
“The attempt by this government to stir up public sentiments against Father Mbaka, rather than answer the legitimate concerns posed, is rather ridiculous,” said another Twitter user, @nyotjoel. What is the connection between Mbaka seeking contracts and the nation’s current state of insecurity?”
@FS Yusuf_ also tweeted, “Garba Shehu is shamelessly telling us that Rev Mbaka asked for contracts as a form of recompense for his support for Buhari.” Will this, ladies and gentlemen, change the fact that this country is ruled by terrorists?”
Similarly, Henry Shield said on Twitter, “No Mbaka slander will be tolerated.” We will support Mbaka if you (the presidency) support Pantami.”
@Komrade Konrade also tweeted, “One peculiarity of the Buhari-led government is that it is never objective.” They’ll keep it against you if you disagree with their agenda once you’re in bed with them. Yes, he (Mbaka) requested contracts. “Does that constitute a crime?”
Meanwhile, Mr Ayodele Fayose, a former governor of Ekiti State, has characterised both the Presidency and Mbaka as “blackmailers and scammers” who do not deserve Nigerians’ attention.
This was claimed by Fayose in response to the schism between the Presidency and Mbaka.
“The Presidency and Father Mbaka are nothing more than blackmailers and con artists. They do not deserve Nigerians’ attention,” Fayose said on Friday via his Twitter handle, @GovAyoFayose.
In response, the All Progressives Congress leadership said it would report Mbaka to the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, if the priest continued to threaten the President and cause discontent with the regime.
In a quote, the APC’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said, “One would wonder who Father Mbaka is emulating because the Lord Jesus Christ did not attempt to bring down the government during his own time; rather, Jesus Christ obeyed and honoured constituted authority, which is why he paid his tax.”
In response to Mbaka’s outburst, the Catholic Diocesan Director of Communication in Enugu State, Fr Benjamin Achi, stated that although the diocese had yet to be formally told about the ruling party’s threat to petition the Pope, it would release an official statement on the matter as soon as that occurred.
“Well, we haven’t had any official word on that yet. But if that happens, we will react appropriately. “We will make an official statement,” the priest said.
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