In the Middle Ages in Europe, the clergy wielded enormous powers. They determined who was crowned a King, determined when their countries went to war, had a say in how the country was governed and could depose uncooperative Kings who were trying to assert their independence. The Roman-Catholic Church for instance was the wealthiest property owner in the world.
The Renaissance era where scholars rose and challenged their countrymen to think rationally and critically was a great threat to the power which the clergy wielded. Many scholars in this golden era of learning fiercely advocated for the total separation of Church and State. Galileo Galilei for instance challenged the assertion that the earth was flat. He posited that it was round instead. This led to his condemnation by the church as a heretic and his subsequent excommunication from the church and even at his death was denied a Catholic burial. More radical thinkers emerged and the expository writings of the likes of John Locke, Baron De Montesquieu, Voltaire, Erasmus etc led to the liberation of the minds of many westerners which greatly whittled down the powers once held by the churches in Europe.
The military regime of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida wiped out the Middle Class and drove majority of the public intellectuals and professionals to economic exile in Europe, North America and Asia. The masses had no form of social security and were emotionally and psychologically battered to no end by the day to day challenges in the nation.
The terrible economic situation in the country led to the rise of the pentecoastal church movement who cashed in on the desperation of the hoi polloi to offer them a glimmer of hope through miracles, prophecies as well as signs and wonders.
This strategy greatly appealed to the masses who flocked to the churches in their millions and gladly emptied their wallets to the ‘Men of God’ in the name of tithes and offerings.
The Orthodox churches surreptitiously adopted the tactics by their pentecoastal rivals and incorporated them in their mode of worship for fear of being branded too conservative and not being in tune with the current trends.
One such Orthodox leader is Father Ejike Mbaka who is a Catholic priest based in Enugu and runs the Adoration Centre where he heals the sick and performs all sort of miracles. He came to national prominence during the administration of former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani where he was one of his fiercest critics. There was an attack on his prayer centre by government forces which led to a stampede and some deaths were recorded. This incident boosted his profile as a social critic and exponentially increased his fan base as many Nigerians from far and near visited the Adoration centre.
In the run up to the 2015 elections he pitched his tent with the Buhari camp and openly supported him. When the former military head of state was sworn in, he never ceased to sing his praises as the best thing to happen to Nigeria since the Union Jack was lowered on September 30, 1960.
He was in the news recently when he made a prediction that Senator Hope Uzodinma would unseat Emeka Ihedioha as the Governor of Imo state. The Supreme Court verdict on that matter proved him right and he has suddenly become the Nigerian clone of the famous Nostradamus who could see tomorrow.
Trust the masses, they will run helter skelter to his haven and even increase their tithes and offerings so that their futures could be favourably predicted using Uzodinma as a sturdy point of contact. The English Satirist, Eric Blair a.k.a George Orwell will laugh in his grave at the level of incredulity of the Nigerian masses which was worse than that of the sheep in the evergreen classic ‘Animal Farm.’
The invasion of the residence of some Judges by the Department for State Security (DSS) which revealed the humongous cash in the domiciliary edifices of these officers in the temple of justice is a pointer of the mind boggling corruption in the third arm of government. It is possible that the cabal may have compromised the judiciary with Mbaka being given the highly prized insider information before the reading of the judgement as a reward for his loyalty. Anything is possible in the ‘Giant of Africa’.
The masses never learn from history. We recall that Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua said that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential elections and then he backtracked when Donald Trump won. The ‘accuracy’ of Mbaka’s recent prophesy would make him the new hero and the lack of rational thinking by the hapless masses would further entrench the cult of hero worship around him.
We need a home grown renaissance to begin to make the proles put on their thinking cap and liberate themselves from the shackles of oppression by both political and religious leaders. We need radicals who can boldly challenge the status quo by holding government accountable for the greater common good. For how long will we continue to tolerate these so called religious leaders who work in cahoots with the political class to perpetually enslave the working class?
It is high time we start canvassing a total separation of the Church and State if we are to allow the benefits of living in the 21stcentury to take roots in our clime which has entrapped many like one large prison.
For how long will we outsource thinking faculties to these ‘Men of God’ who are more concerned with building Churches as big as Ibadan, schools where the poor can never attend and jets that the majority of their members will never see?
Nobody can save anyone – the masses are their own messiahs. Will they be discerning enough to understand this? There lies the tragedy!
Tony Ademiluyi writes from Lagos and edits www.africanbard.com
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Anthony Ademiluyi and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”