The Presidency on Friday derided the Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Fr Ejike Mbaka, for criticising the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), over his alleged failure to contain insecurity and wanton killings of Nigerians by banditry gangs.
The Presidency attributed Mbaka’s criticism of the President to a decision by Buhari to reject a contract request made by the cleric.
Mbaka, who supported the President during the 2015 and 2019 elections, made a U-turn on Wednesday, asking Buhari to resign or be impeached for not doing enough to tackle widespread insecurity.
The cleric told his congregation that no civilised leader would remain in power with the spate of violence across the country.
He regretted that Buhari could maintain grave silence in the midst of widespread violence and deaths of Nigerians.
“How can people be dying and the chief security officer of the country would be sitting down without making any comment? Gunmen attacking people everywhere. Buhari should have resigned honourably following his (alleged) failure as a leader.
“Let me tell you that if it were in a civilised country, President Buhari would have resigned by now. So, it is amazing that he has chosen to sit tight while people are dying daily,” he said.
Mbaka also called on the National Assembly to impeach the President, saying Nigerians were facing intense poverty and insecurity.
But the Presidency lashed out at Mbaka on Friday, saying the cleric was aggrieved because Buhari rejected a contract request by him.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement titled, ‘Father Mbaka is everything apart from what he claims to be.’
The statement read, “An outsider distilling the avalanche of verbiage will be surprised that after supporting the President two times to win the Presidency, Father Mbaka has made a complete U-turn, preposterously asking President Buhari to resign or be impeached.
“Here is the point of departure: Father Mbaka asked for a meeting and to the shock of presidential aides, he came accompanied by three contractors. The President graciously allowed them in, and to everyone’s surprise, Father Mbaka asked for contracts as compensation for his support.
“Anyone familiar with President Buhari knows that he doesn’t break the laid-down rules in dealing with contracts or any other government business for that matter. He requested the appropriate authorities to deal with the matter in accordance with the laid-down rules.
“Inside the Villa, discretion prevailed, that if those pictures and requests were made public, the followers would turn against the religious leader. None of it was released. Now, this is what is eating Father Mbaka.”
However, many Nigerians slighted the Presidency’s claim, saying there was nothing wrong with the cleric’s demand for contracts as long as he is a Nigerian and qualified for the job.
A Twitter user @firstladyship said, “While I cannot independently verify this story (Presidency’s claim), I think we can now see the monsters in charge of Nigeria.
“When asked to resign or be impeached, they resort to cheap blackmail to curry public sympathy. The Presidency, through Mallam Garba Shehu, has once again reached out to their supporters, through virtue signalling. This bothers on morality.”
Another Twitter user @nyotjoel said, “The effort by this government to whip up public sentiments against Father Mbaka, rather than address the genuine concerns raised, is quite ridiculous. What’s the connection between Mbaka seeking contracts and the state of insecurity currently grappling the nation?”
@FS_Yusuf_ also tweeted, “Garba Shehu is shamelessly telling us that Rev Mbaka asked for some contracts as gratification for supporting Buhari. Ladies and gentlemen, please does this change the fact that this country is run by terrorists?”
Likewise, Henry Shield tweeted, “No Mbaka slander will be tolerated. You (Presidency) are backing Pantami, we will back Mbaka.”
Also, @Komrade_Konrade tweeted, “One peculiarity about the Buhari-led government is that it’s never objective. Once you’re in bed with them, they’ll hold it against you anytime you disagree with their agenda. Yes, he (Mbaka) asked for contracts. Is that a criminal offence?”
Meanwhile, a former Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, described both the Presidency and Mbaka as “blackmailers and scammers” who don’t deserve the attention of Nigerians.
Fayose stated this while reacting to the rift between the Presidency and Mbaka.
“The Presidency and Father Mbaka are nothing but blackmailers and scammers. They don’t deserve the attention of Nigerians,” Fayose said via his Twitter handle @GovAyoFayose on Friday.
In its reaction, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress said it would report Mbaka to the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, if the priest continued to threaten the President and cause disaffection for the regime.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, in a statement said, “One will wonder whom Father Mbaka is emulating because the Lord Jesus Christ did not threaten to bring down the government during his own time, in fact, Jesus Christ obeyed and honoured constituted authority That’s why he paid his tax.
Also reacting to Mbaka’s outburst, the Catholic Diocesan Director of Communication, Enugu State, Fr Benjamin Achi, said though the diocese had yet to be officially informed about the ruling party’s threat to petition the Pope, it would issue an official statement on the matter when that happens.
“Well, we haven’t received any official information on that. But when that happens, we will respond accordingly. We are going to issue an official statement,” the priest said.