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Mbaka is an embarrassment to Catholic Church –Mamza, Adamawa Diocese Bishop

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Bishop of Catholic Dioceses of Yola , Most Rev Stephen Mamza , bares his mind on the role of religious leaders in politics and the upcoming elections , among other issues , in this interview with HINDI LIVINUS

As the general elections approach , some religious leaders are being accused of playing partisan politics . What are your thoughts on this ?

The problem we have is that some of our clerics are hungry religious leaders , those not there for the service of God but because of their pockets . If not , why should a religious leader allow politicians to control him . The cleric is supposed to be the leader of the politicians and not the other way round , as we see it . The clerics are the ones that are supposed to form the conscience of the politicians . Some have ceded this position because of material things . They have lost their credibility because of what they expect to get. I can give examples with the Catholic Church . The Catholic Church has rules and regulations . But there are many other religious bodies that do not have guiding principles . These are the bodies that allow their leaders to go beyond the limit that is acceptable .

But Rev Father Ejike Mbaka is a Catholic cleric . Are his political statements in consonance with your church ’ s principles ?

Rev Father Mbaka is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church and I wonder why he has yet to be sanctioned by the Bishop of his Diocese . This cannot happen in other dioceses. He should be sanctioned . There is no reason why he shouldn ’ t be sanctioned . Every priest is under the jurisdiction of their local ordinaire who is the bishop. If a priest commits a crime or does something wrong anywhere in the world , the person that acts on that priest is the bishop. Even Rome will not act just like that ; it is your own bishop that will do that . I think we can say that his bishop should make sure he cautions Father Mbaka because he has really crossed his boundaries .

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Nigeria , despite being a nation of religious people , is faced with moral decadence and corruption has continued to soar . Do you think religious bodies are doing enough ?

I think something is wrong. In a situation where the religious leaders themselves are corrupt ; a situation , where the religious leaders ’ conscience is not properly formed , we should expect that the followers will do worse things. As a matter of fact , if you look at some of the religious leaders that we have , you actually wonder . Our major problem in this country is that of leadership. When we talk about leadership, it cuts across politics, religion and other segments of leadership you can conceive . It is not a problem of following .
You have always spoken out against President Muhammadu Buhari as being a divisive leader , especially based on his appointments . Do you see this trend also playing out in the coming elections ?

Of course , that is why people don’ t even trust the elections that are coming up in February and March this year . People feel that having almost all the security apparatus in the hands of the northerners is not healthy . If you look at the Independent National Electoral Commission, almost all those in charge of sensitive positions are northerners . They are not only northerners , but northern Muslims . The Christians in the North are in the minority ; we don’ t even have a say because we are not welcomed. In the South , we are not also welcome . We don’ t know where we belong . The way the present government makes appointments is really very suspicious and we are very doubtful that this present government is prepared to organise free , fair and credible elections.

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The issue of appointments is something that is glaring . In fact , there are many Muslims who are not comfortable . They have even had to complain about it .

You talked about the northern Christians being in the minority. What really do you mean by this ?

Christians in the North are treated like second – class citizens . We are not treated as northerners because of the simple fact that we are Christians . There are several situations where you are deprived of appointment because you are a Christian . You are deprived of admission or a particular course of study in the university because you are a minority . The same goes for other privileges meant for everyone to enjoy; Christians are being denied . We are treated like second – class citizens .

Some clerics have formed the habit of making predictions about the outcome of the 2019 elections . Are you comfortable with this ?

In the first place , if you say you have heard a revelation about the outcome of the elections, how sure are we that you really had a revelation from God . There are many people who sit in their homes and think of what should be just to bring confusion into the country . They will say they have had a revelation . Many of them , in the past , what they predicted never came pass; they were actually false. I think the revelation should be guided ; there should be judgement as regards whether the revelation is true or not . Is it from God or not from God? Even the Bible tells us that if it is a prophecy , you have to judge whether this prophecy is from God or not . It is not everything that comes into your mind that you tell the public .

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