Through an admixture of prophetic messages, preaching of the gospel, public appraisal of Nigerian political leaders, social crusading for justice and egalitarian society, fiery Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka could be likened to biblical Prophets Moses, Samuel, Nathan, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist and their likes. A significant reference point of what proceeds from his mouth on the polity remains the build-up to 2015 general elections, which he took former President Goodluck Jonathan, his fellow Christian faithful, to pillory while, even from the pulpit, he praise-sang Muhammadu Buhari, an Islamic faithful. With Buhari’s victory at the last presidential poll, ignoring Mbaka, even by his ardent critics, may be to one’s peril.
The foregoing accounted for why his 2018 New Year message that Ibrahim Dankwambo, current governor of Gombe State, should be supported to succeed President Buhari may not be taken with a pinch of salt, just as the message may move some of those who matter in politicking to the direction of the 66-year old accountant-turned politician in the next electioneering. With his philosophy of PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens – the 1995 ordained priest of the Roman Catholic may have since put on his armoury of prayer warrior to have everything his own way regarding 2019 presidential election.
Good enough, Mbaka’s priesthood is not practiced within the precinct of Christ the King Parish in GRA, Enugu, where he is the presiding Parish priest. His priestly functions, unlike many other priests in the denomination, are not conscripted to the orthodox world of Catholicism either. He is the founder and spiritual director of Adoration Ministries Enugu Nigeria, AMEN, an interdenominational fellowship group, most probably, the largest worshippers gathering in South East Nigeria. At AMEN signs and wonders abound and solemnity is not the order of service.
If tumultuous yelling of “Amen” could make yearning of the people yield fruits then Dankwambo’s presidential pursuit will not only get off to a flying start and fencing off of political foes but finesse finishing. With likelihood of Mbaka’s cult followers embarking on movement for Dankwambo, coupled with the people of the South East strong dislike of Buhari’s administration, Dankwambo may have advantage of multitude of prayer warriors on his side. With Mbaka playing the role of biblical Samuel for Dankwambo, an apparent dark horse in the coming presidential race, may reenact the scenery of King David of the ancient Israel.
With no attempt at doubting spiritual sight of the Catholic priest, yours sincerely is of the belief that Mbaka’s endorsement of Dankwambo for president may have sprang up more on the strength of physical sights in Gombe under the watch of Dankwambo. After all, though Mbaka may have spiritual eyes, the human eagle eyes in him have not been plugged off.
One of Dankwambo’s laudable development initiatives that would be hard to controvert, even by his ardent critic, are in the education sector. 26 per cent pass mark in examination is glaringly below average, but certainly an excellent improvement from less than one percent that Dankwambo inherited in 2011. That comes about through his priority attention in education, as indicated through his huge investment in the sector.
Under Dankwambo, Gombe now has the only state owned University of Science and Technology in the North East. There is also College of Education, Billiri, Polytechnic at Bajoga and College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Nafada. To infuse blood in his emphasis on technical and vocational studies and discourage straight jacket studies, the Dankwambo administration has adequately equipped technical schools built under his watch, where students are taught carpentry, electrical works, computer education, building works, among others. The inclusion of vocational studies such as tailoring, barbing, computer education, hair styling into the state educational curricular for primary and secondary schools remains strategic in boosting resourcefulness of the younger generation in Gombe State.
Dankwambo may have been pushed to put paid to pity privilege enjoy by most of states in the northern axis of Nigeria on account of being educationally disadvantaged states. Given what most of the northern states are known in the area of education, Dankwambo’s strides in the education sector may have been considered enough to fill the gap of other aspects of the state’s life but such enough is not enough for Dankwambo, hence handsomely delving his hands into healthcare delivery, human capacity empowerment, physical infrastructures among others.
He has been rated the best governor in northern Nigeria by some organisations on account of road infrastructure and maintenance done in his administration. Apart from giving Gombe a facelift, his infrastructural works across the length and breadth of the state has been noted as a significant factor behind reduction in road accidents in the state.
On account of his scholastic pedigree and flourishing career in private and public sectors, Dankwambo’s deeds in Gombe state are not unexpected. At different times, he had served at Central Bank of Nigeria, Accountant General of Gombe State and Accountant General of the Federation, which he served from April 2005 till he resigned for politics in 2011. Occupying strategic positions in public and private sectors, including superintending over movement of funds at the federal and the state government, with no baggage of any kind, is a plus-plus for the professional accountant.
However, not many Nigerians, outside indigenes and residents of Gombe as well as those visiting the state since 2011, know of what abounds in the agrarian state. This is largely because Dankwambo is extremely poor at blowing his trumpet. That Dankwambo’s works could be seen by Mbaka underlines inherent power accompanying plausible performances and speaks volume of the priest broaden introspection and public spiritedness in the larger affairs of the Nigerian nation.
In the thinking of this writer, the priest projection of the governor for Nigeria’s presidency is not floating on unseen landscape of spiritual realm, but on the foundation of the forebears of the alumni of the Ahmadu Bello University. And so, if Mbaka’s prophecy of Dankwambo becoming Nigeria’s president comes to fruition it would be more of a follow-up of Dankwambo’s physical functionality at his various stations of works than a function of Mbaka’s spiritual fecundity.
. Ekanem, a journalist, sent this article from Lagos through [email protected].