By Osi-Nelson & Sabi Onyenwe, Owerri
Two names stand out in Igboland in ministry work. One is the catholic reverend father of repute, Rev Father Ejike Mbaka, the priest of Adoration Ministry now in Emene, Enugu, who has been in the news for decades. The other is a reverend known more as a pastor, the General Overseer of a small church, Rev Eric Onunji of True Believers Assembly, Nnorie, in Ngor Okpala, Imo State.
Father Mbaka is known for catering for little ones and the poor as well as signs and wonders that follow his worship. He is famous for surviving many assassination attempts during one of the regimes in Enugu State. The story of how bullets fired at him at the former Adoration Ground during a church programme all went into his Bible has remained famous.
Father Mbaka touched controversy in 2015 when he predicted that Muhammadu Buhari, then candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), would win. It came to pass. The prediction may perhaps be the only link between father Mbaka and Pastor Eric. Mbaka’s prediction was widely reported but Pastor Eric’s revelation that Buhari would win was never heard beyond his small church premises in a remote village near a forest in Eke-Ukwu Nnorie.
Pastor Eric (as he is popularly called in the rural areas of Imo State) where he helps the sick, the afflicted and the poor, has a pedigree in seeing the mind of God. He is known to have not only predicted the victory of Buhari, a prediction that brought him much condemnation that time, he came into political prediction limelight with the prediction of victory for Independence Ogunewe (Ahiazu/Ezinihitte Federal Constituency) who is now late, and twice for Mike Iheanetu (Aboh Mbaise State Constituency). He made it clear in 2015 that Ihedioha and Goodluck Jonathan would not win, though many did not like him for that.
In the days of IBB, when Pastor Eric was younger but full of fury, he was asked to go to Aso Rock to tell IBB to step down or face death. He dodged a while but was forced to go, like Jonah. IBB obeyed and lives to this day. According to him, IBB made overtures to him to stay in Abuja but he refused, and turned down even transport support to return. He had told IBB, ‘In my pocket is transport money contributed by my poor village members. That is all I was allowed to take by God”.
When it was Abacha’s turn, he was sent again but he was delayed much at the gate and when they eventually met, Abacha turned it down. Abacha did not leave Aso Rock alive. These are unreported incidents.
Mbaka and crisis
The poor who pray here for you need support
Father Mbaka remained highly respected for decades but his recent mention of money and gifts has tended to attract opprobrium and sanctions from the Church. Video recordings have emerged showing where he tried to justify demand for cash after praying for victory for politicians.
When he predicted Buhari’s victory, he won hearts and respect when he turned down huge cash offer (offering) from the then first lady. But now, his outburst at Peter Obi and even Buhari over money seems to dent much of his reputation. He has however tried to explain. Now, he is tracked by friends and foes alike and the latest is that he paid a visit to Buhari of late and that gifts were given and accepted. No confirmation has been made.
We do not want your money, just a Bible on his desk in Govt House – says General Overseer
Now, on January 8, 2019, the first Tuesday of the year, the yearly First Tuesday Crusade of the True Believers Assembly was held. Pastor Eric invited Ihedioha through Kisito Onuoha who is a church member as well as close friend to Ihedioha. The message was to bring Ihedioha for prayers to win the election as revealed by the Holy Spirit. On that day, the church was filled to the brim with outflow to the outside under the palm trees.
Pastor Eric took over the microphone and admonished thus: “Bring out your PVCs so we can pray and send it on errand to go put Emeka Ihedioha in office as next governor. The children of God and this alter have right to pray anybody of good standing into office. May God put the right governor that will govern Imo State and remember Ngor Okpala and Mbaise and repair this part of Imo State. Ngor Okpala must be remembered, Mbaise must be remembered, and Imo State must be rebuilt beginning this year 2019.”
Speaking in Igbo, he went on: “A prophet of God has the right to make demands of God through prayers for the good of the people. That is why we are not allowing you to drop any money, not even a kobo here today. That is not why you were invited. You are here to receive prayers inspired by the Holy Spirit, not for any form of launching. We do not want your money. When Emeka gets there, all we ask for is a Bible on his desk as sign of covenant with this Ministry that he will govern with the fear of God and to wipe away the tears of God’s people.”
The team led by a lawyer, Kingsley Nzemechi and Kizito Onuoha expressed delight at the man of God and said of a truth, this is a living church. He explained Peter Obi’s presence in Imo State that forced Ihedioha to send representatives, and assured that the message would be sent to him, raw.
When the visitors left, the GO encouraged his poor followers to bring their little offerings, saying, this is the type we collect to run this church. We will not collect from our visitors because they would think the prophecy was for sale. It is not so here. When God sends us, we do it without money. That is the pillar of this Ministry. The members, poor traders, women, widows, and all, put hands into their shallow pockets and dropped their usual ten, ten and twenty, twenty naira notes.
The following Sunday, all the contestants and campaign members of Ihedioha cam came to worship there, but, again, the GO ordered them not to make donations or gifts. Everyone was marveled because True Believers Assembly has many needs and a retreat coming up in February where funds are seriously needed. The church takes support but the GO means that if you are sent to deliver a message, do not touch money, when going or coming.