By SAM EYOBOKA
THE proposed investiture of a new Prelate for the Methodist Church Nigeria, scheduled for next Sunday, may not hold after all as the process that produced the Prelate-elect has been faulted by the immediate past Prelate of the church, Dr Sunday Mbang, who described the election as an ecclesiastical fraud of the highest order.
Mbang, in a seven-page document, entitled: ‘Holy Almighty Everlasting God, save Your church, Methodist Church Nigeria from indiscipline, manipulation and fraud. So help us God’, alluded to several constitutional breaches in the process that led to the September 1 election of the Archbishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Samuel Uche, as the new Prelate as well as seven others as archbishops for the newly created archdioceses.
According to the Prelate-Emeritus, who headed the church for 22 years at a critical period in the church’s history, what took place during the Emergency Conference and the 44th Special Conference at Ebute Metta, Lagos, can be described as anything but elections going by the dictionary meaning of the word and promptly cautioned those involved in the process to restrain from condemning politicians on election manipulation and rigging.
The erstwhile Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, president and former chairperson of World Methodist Council, Sunday Vanguard can now reveal, stormed out of the Special Conference following alleged to undermine the church’s 2006 Constitution despite attempts by him and a few others to toe the path of righteousness.
Mbang’s bitterness was palpable when he directed our reporter to the document in a telephone conversation, suggesting that the document was self-explanatory when asked to throw more light on his allegations.
According to the document, which was not addressed to nobody in particular, the former Prelate alleged several constitutional breaches which made him conclude that the election process that produced the prelate-elect and the seven archbishops was not credible.
The Akwa Ibom State-born cleric said the process of nomination and screening was incredulously flawed and at variance with the Constitution which provides the Electoral College as the instrument of Conference for making nominations and recommendations for vacant episcopal positions in the church.
According to him, the 2013 Electoral College was presented with the names of 10 candidates for the office of the Prelate.
He argued that after some of the “unwilling and unsolicited candidates from the 10 candidates failed in the unending voting systems, probably the legitimate ones selected by the secret illegal Electoral College were asked to go out.
”But why were they asked to leave the Electoral College rook if screening was a no-go area? Was this part of the plan of the unconstitutional illegal Electoral College? To this end, no screening was done to establish the suitability and capability of candidates to be elected. This was the case of the blind leading the blind,” he noted.
”The election that took place was an ecclesiastical fraud of the highest order,” he pointed out, asking “Can this church, her leaders and her people have any conscience left to condemn political leaders on election manipulation and rigging? Can the pot now call the kettle black?”
Mbang also drew attention to what he described as “executive indiscipline”, saying the 2006 Constitution of the church encouraged the use of emergency or extraordinary conference to deal with urgent matters requiring conference attention.
It will be recalled that Archbishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Samuel Uche was said to have defeated his Ibadan counterpart, Most Rev. M.K. Stephen, a man reputed to have very intimidating credentials locally and abroad to effectively lead to the church. Feelers, however, emerged after that Stephen initially polled 65 votes as against Uche’s 63 but lost his advantage during the run off.
Outgoing prelate, His Eminence Sunday Ola Makinde described the elections as a smooth transition and urged Nigerian politicians to borrow a leaf from Nigerian churches not only how to conduct successful polls but also how to work together for the good of the nation.