When people air their opinions on vital issues or rebuke and admonish groups, individuals or politicians, affected persons sometimes ignore or reply with a popular phrase, "people are entitled to their own opinions".
There are people whose opinions can't be ignored or referred to the above phrase, whenever they open their mouths to speak against decisions or policies they perceive as bad, it shakes the high and mighty.
Nigerians were in lack of such a person and were in dare need of such a messenger whose voice will be heard, someone that after telling our leaders the truth won't be referred to the phrase "he/she is entitled to his/her own opinion.
The last night of 2014 produced such a messenger, in the person of Revd.Fr. Ejike Mbaka, convener of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu.
Fr. Ejike Mbaka in his cross over night message described president Good luck Jonathan as a bad luck to Nigeria. The reactions that have continued to trail the crossover night message and the predilection at which anti-Jonathan's government received the news of the message is an indication that the political atmosphere is about to change for good.
The renowned priest who has always been vocal in his positive but dissenting opinions on government's insensitivity to the people, took everyone by surprise in his cross over night message.
31st December 2014 became the longest night before dawn, a night of heartfelt revelations, a night of uncensored and undiluted tirades.
There is a proverb that says: When people become too scared of a King, they wear thorns of baskets on their heads and talk to him.
The above proverb best describes what happened that night.
When the message first appeared on social media, early hours of 1st January 2015, people were in doubt if Fr. Mbaka could say such a thing, the priest must have been quoted out of context, it is the handiwork of his detractors were the thoughts of many. It was in the later hours of same day, that people's doubt were cleared, the video had gone viral, it was all over the social media, even on youtube.
"…Listen, any moment they will begin to tell us this one is a Christian the other one is a Muslim. I don’t believe in that. Who is a Christian more than Judas? Did Judas not betray Jesus? Judas was not just a Christian, he was not just a mere apostle, he was a super apostle like a cardinal. But at a time he messed up and Bible says his office, let another take…" Fr Mbaka speaks.
Just the way one of Jesus' super apostles, Judas betrayed Jesus Christ by trading our Saviour for 30 pieces of silver, some of our Christian clerics have sold their consciences for a few bags of naira, they have betrayed not only their congregation but Nigeria as a whole.
Many are still in shock over Fr. Mbaka's sermon for many reasons. Majority of Christian clerics are in support of president Jonathan just because he is a Christian, Christian clerics are too sentimental to condemn Jonathan publicly, to others, they can't believe a cleric from the South East that have the highest supporters of president Jonathan could say such a thing and finally, it was the same Fr. Mbaka that praised president Jonathan's government two months ago when the first lady, Patience Jonathan paid him a visit.
Fr. Ejike Mbaka has come under heavy criticism for his latest verbal attack on President Jonathan. Many are increasingly of the opinion that the renowned clergy has been compromised. His untainted integrity is being questioned, he has been accused of speaking with both sides of his tongue and many are still bewildered why politicians who the clergy condemned in the past are the same politicians he is praising and praying for whenever they come to him for thanks giving.
Coming from his fellow clergy men, many are calling for him to be sanctioned by the catholic body while others have remained numb, some clergy men especially those that have made Aso Rock Villa their second home went as far as accusing the catholic priest of collecting bribe from the opposition party.
A top cleric in Enugu, in an interview, December last year, postulated that president Jonathan has not done meaningful projects in the South East to warrant their votes in his re election bid, but for the fact he is a Christian he will get blocked votes from Christians in the South East, nobody accused him of collecting bribe, he went further to say General Buhari is credible but his muslim back ground and his fanatic utterances in the past has ruled him out, Christians should vote for president Jonathan. What message is the cleric trying to pass to Muslims? Is such unguarded utterances not enough to create religious crisis?
The involvement of our clerics in partisan politics is exactly the same reason why our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the crowds and to his disciples and warns against the teachers of the law and Pharisees. In Matthew 23:23. "Woo to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites…but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. These you should practice, without neglecting the others".
"During election, Jonathan will answer Azikiwe, and answer Ebele and become an Igbo man and after election, the Ebele, the Azikiwe and Goodluck will vanish from his identity. Who is fooling who actually? Look at our federal roads, we are not even asking for new ones, roads built by Buharis and Babangidas — the so called Hausa people— cannot be maintained. …" Fr Mbaka.
Many profiteers and supporters of the incumbent government mostly of South East extraction have been throwing unguarded tantrums at the catholic priest. Let's be sincere and objective here. Were his assertions true or false? To the attackers of the catholic priest, are you attacking him because he lied in his assertions? Are you not comfortable with the truth or the channel of dissemination?
Whatever your divide, the truth is always bitter and whenever you hear the truth, be objective in reasoning. Fr. Mbaka may have his shortcomings but the truth must be told, he has decided not to join his fellow clerics at the Augean stable or sit on the fence, he should be commended instead of crucifying him.
It is people's reactions to opinions that will determine if people are entitled to their own opinions or not. The reactions Fr. Mbaka's sermon has generated this past days, is enough reason to show that there are people who are not "entitled to their own opinions", and such people should be avoided by doing the right things.
The same way God saved us from Ebola, God will save us from bad luck season. Fr Mbaka.
Joe Onwukeme: An Idealist is a social and political affairs analyst, writes from Enugu