Living with fair-weather prophets?

By Ike Abonyi

“Every age has its pseudo-problems created by its fake prophets and pseudo-philosophers.”- Marty Rubin

We are certainly in perilous times when even at churches or mosques, doers of what they preach are getting fewer by the day. What you get, instead, are religionists pushing selfish political and other hidden agendas and or preparing virgin grounds for one agenda or the other.

A significant aspect of the problem facing democracy in Nigeria today stems from the army of politicians in cassocks who, after ordination for religious duties, use their high priestly calling to multiply the confusion in the nation’s body politic. Unless we find a way to quarantine these politically exposed “prophets”, more damage will continue with their pronouncements.

The widely available utterances of two top clergymen, the Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka of the Catholic Church, Enugu, and Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Citadel Global Community Church, Lagos, are the reasons for this week’s discourse. The Rev. Mbaka belongs to the conservative Catholic Church family while Pastor Bakare is of the vibrant prosperity preaching and miracle-working Pentecostal faith. They both recognize and adore Jesus Christ as the son of God and as the Lord and saviour of the world as espoused in the Bible. Another thing that is common with the duo is their support for the Muhammadu Buhari quest for the Presidency in 2015.

The two claimed then that they saw a vision from God that Buhari would be President in 2015. While the Rev. Mbaka said Buhari was the messiah coming, Pastor Bakare claimed credit for pulling Buhari from his publicly announced retirement from politics. Bakare went beyond dragging Buhari out of retirement and even told him what he did that enabled him to win exactly the way his vision came.

Last week, Pastor Bakare who had run with Buhari in his losing days but could not foresee victory then, now claims it is him who made Buhari’s victory possible. Because he is the pastor, he thinks his flock possesses no brains of their own. He also thinks that the rest of the television-watching Nigerians are morons who believe everything coming from the tele-altar.

One thing is very clear: any man of God who abandons his priestly duties and dives into the political turf, using visions or prophecies, loses the respect that goes with his high calling.
Pastor Bakare says he is raising a pressure group called Nigeria for Nigeria to save this country. It’s interesting to see how far he will go with it but he should just not get frustrated by the time he discovers how futile and unprofitable the project will be, just like the Save Nigeria group he had in 2010 that achieved nothing.

Top among the many histories being made by President Buhari regime is the exposition of the contradictions of so-called moralists in our midst. Prominent among those being exposed by the Buhari era are clergymen who all along had carried on as moralizers in the society while pursuing their selfish agenda. The reason the Buhari administration made more success in this area of unveiling these cloak and dagger people is that he has a problem with appreciating or rewarding fake loyalists. If Buhari had recognized and appreciated both the Rev Mbaka and Pastor Bakare for their so-called ‘spiritual’ contributions to his victory, maybe the hullabaloo of their follow up prophecies that contradict the first would have been unnecessary.

Those who had waited in vain to be appreciated in one way or the other for their ‘fake or real’ prophecies are now on the reverse gear to suit the time.
Mbaka, after waiting for Godot to be appreciated, had to announce a new vision that Buhari must change his ways as God might have abandoned him. Ditto Bakare who had to “see” a fresh vision after the first could not yield him any recognition from the Aso Rock Villa.

Even in the Bible, Ezekiel suffered reputation problems that dogged his integrity as a prophet of the Most High when he went back and forth over the Nebuchadnezzar army overcoming Tyre and plundering the nation’s wealth only to say later in a follow-up prophecy that, perhaps, Nebuchadnezzar’s Army obtained no plunder order from its campaign against Tyre (Ezekiel 26 and 29). Even as a true man of God he still suffered for delivering two prophecies on one issue even when he was not driven by any pecuniary or attention-seeking interest. In our clime today, prophecies are a dime a dozen, released and reversed subject to dubious variables.

True prophets should learn to deliver their messages and leave them there no matter how unfavourable to the seer. Prophet Jonah, after his pronouncement on Nineveh, the great Babylonian city, for their sins within 40 days and the people and their King went into deep supplication that changed the mind of God, Jonah was angry and God warned him against being angry because God Is sovereign and can change his mind without recourse to anyone. Jonah did not go changing his prophecy because from inception he is only but a messenger.

Instead of getting angry at Buhari, the Rev Mbaka and Pastor Bakare should have learnt from the Jonah experience and left God who sent them to judge.
Meanwhile, Pastor Bakare has not told us if the new crusading group he is creating is a vision from God.

What is irrefutable is that Pastor Bakare has made a success of
preaching the gospel since he abandoned the law profession that he studied. But he needs to be steady there and strive to end well. His restlessness may drag him down if he fails to decode messages from God properly. If the gospel thing is now boring to him and he now wants to enter the fray, he had better drop the pastoral garb and come head-on and be ready for the yank therein.
If nobody in his congregation is telling him yet that his “man of God” garb is hampered by his incessant political excursions. His flock may be just respecting him and waiting for the time to say, ” We saw it coming.”

The Rev Mbaka who belongs to a conservative church where nobody, not even the Pope is supreme, is being saved from himself. Pastor Bakare may not be that lucky because in his case he is the Alpha and Omega, founder and owner who could on waking up switch the church’s name from Latter Rain Assembly to Citadel Global. Mbaka does not have such a latitude to operate because the platform is not his but the Vatican’s.

As a fan of Pastor Bakare’s televangelism, even as Catholic faithful, what I am doing by this narration is to tell him that God’s message is not to be politicked with because it does not come into being.
Buhari and All Progressives Congress, APC, have made nonsense of everything including ‘prophecies’ from Nigerian of God and others.

Recently, the Presidency was battling another prophet whose politically tainted prophecy it could not stomach. If he had said something positive, the president’s ’s reaction would have been different the same way the Mbaka and Bakare prophecies of 2015 were welcome and the negative ones of 2021 were deplored.

That’s the extent of damage Buhari’s poor performance has done to many who back him to become who he is today, a disappointment. But even at that, Buhari’s new friends still feel he is the best in the circumstance, a tin god to be adored and allowed to handpick his successor in the likely event of declining the third term banana dangling before him.

In a game where mud rather than water is handier for cleansing operations, where truth is given the back seat and untruths are in the front row, why should anybody who is a true man of God not see it and run away? That is not to say that genuine and insightful voices from the pulpit were constantly seen from Bishops Matthew Kukah and Godfrey Onah of Sokoto and Nsukka Catholic dioceses.

We all know that our voters, the masses, are gullible, especially in third world democracies where the stomach largely influences electoral outcomes. We are also aware that these people being exploited by the politicians, often run to their religious leaders for guidance and consolation but they are even more exploited all in line with Karl Marx’s assertion that religion is indeed the opium of the masses.

In all, I find it intriguing that our clerics do not fear God when they know that nothing is hidden from him. He gives, he removes, he uplifts, and he brings down. You who play God, ask yourself, where are Adams Oshiohmole, Ibrahim Magu, and yesterday’s award-winning super cop Abba Kyari?

Fear God, Nigerians, fear God.

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