By Emeka Mamah, Enugu
Fiery Enugu Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, has predicted bleak future for the country, saying that many Nigerians would die in the present economic meltdown.
He, however, said that President Muhammadu Buhari was not responsible for the hunger in the country, blaming his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, for the situation.
Mbaka, who was reacting to media reports about his scathing remarks on the high level of hunger in the country as well as the implications for Buhari’s second term election, said Jonathan’s administration was responsible for the myriads of problems facing the country.
In a statement entitled, “Fr. Mbaka’s assertion `There is hunger in Nigeria’: Not an attack on President Buhari”, Mbaka, yesterday, denied ever bashing Buhari for the country’s economic problems or the level of suffering in the country.
The cleric had been quoted in a sermon on Wednesday as saying Nigerians were hungry as a result of Buhari’s economic policies, saying the President would lose the 2019 polls if the situation persisted. The statement came against the backdrop of Mbaka’s position ahead of the 2015 polls in favour of Buhari.
The statement, yesterday, signed by Mbaka’s spokesman, Maximus Ike Ugwuoke, said he observed with keen concern the news trending in some sections of the media that he “attacked” Buhari.
“The news headline is not only sensational but also a censorious media colouration and hype of the message of the cleric titled, “Bless and Be Blessed” for whatever ends”, the statement said.
The statement explained that although Mbaka lamented the high level of hunger and suffering in the country, it was followed by another message where he said Buhari was not responsible for the situation but the previous administration.
It pointed out that the controversial message was followed by another one entitled, “Mega Change of Conditions” , saying the second message absolved Buhari of blames about the economy and hunger in the country.
“There is sword that is moving about in the country. People are dying like flies. The sword of Hunger is eating the land. And as I have told you, this is just the beginning. If anybody is telling you it is going to be well very soon that person is deceiving you. This is because many of us were among those that were alive during the years of the past government. The past PDP government was like the grasshoppers and locusts (regimes to Nigerian). The past government was a disaster to the land of Nigeria; the past government was cancer to this country. There is no need trying to cover their incalculable and iniquitous mess. If you don’t feel it now, you will feel it later”, the statement said.
Hunger is everywhere; the hunger was created before this new government came in. Buhari is not the maker of the hunger.
“The hunger was created during the Jonathan’s PDP administration but Buhari should abate the long procrastination, bureaucracy and slow methods in tackling it.
“That is why I have been saying and I keep on saying that the past administration should publicly come to apologize to Nigerians. “He, therefore maintained that contrary to media reports, Fr. Mbaka merely reiterated the obvious sufferings that Nigerian are facing (which even the president himself had at points acknowledged and sued for patience and perseverance) and advised the president on the ways to tackle it, that is, by engaging economic gurus and listening to good advisers.
“In the background of the message, Fr. Mbaka encouraged the gallant warrior, President Buhari, to continue his battle against corruption and insurgency asserting that if not a man like President Buhari, by now people may have stopped going to church and mosques. Boko Haram might have wrecked this country. People might have equally stopped going to schools, markets etc. kudos to Buhari.
“Fr. Mbaka revealed that corruption, insurgency and poor governance by past governments gave birth to three horrible children (1) Hunger (2) Anger (3) Danger”.
Nigerians are hungry: Cleric sends Saraki to Buhari
Meanwhile, a cleric has sent Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki to President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the President should be told that there is hunger and suffering in the country. The Vicar and Archdeacon of Ikoyi Diocese, Anglican Church, said Buhari should move fast to address the concerns of the people.
In his sermon at the funeral service for the late Dr. Ebenezer Aboyowa Ikomi, held at Our Saviour’s Church, Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, yesterday, Oyetunde said the economic situation is making Nigerians feel their lives have only changed for the worse and that government is not doing enough to address the situation. According to him, there is mass unemployment, inflation and hunger in the country up to the point that “Nigerians now really feed from the dustbin”.
He warned that it might get to a point that political leaders in the country will not be able to walk freely on the streets.
The bad economy, which is not receiving good attention, he stated, has created other social and political problems which are making the entire country unsafe for residents and visitors.
Oyetunde noted the presence of the number three citizen in the congregation, saying there was certainty that the message would get to the President and could propel some positive actions that will change the course of things for better for the people.
The cleric believed the Senate, led by Saraki, and the entire National Assembly ought to work with Buhari and also involve other Nigerians in the bid to solve the socio-economic problems plaguing the country.
On the anti-corruption fight, he commended the Buhari government but advised it to adopt the plea bargain option in which government can at least ensure that it gets 70 percent of the money stolen and use it for the funding infrastructural development and social services.
Journalists at the occasion could not get Saraki to respond to the issues raised by the cleric. But one of the aides in his entourage said the Senate President was worried by the statements of the Archdeacon, “who was obviously speaking the minds of the ordinary citizens”. The aide, however, said it was unfortunate that while Oyetunde spoke to the Senate President as the number three citizen with the responsibility to find solutions to the problems, the reality on ground is that the executive and legislature were not working together as they should.