Elections held behind schedule to avoid intrusion, arrest of CAN members
Paul Obi in Abuja
After much muscle flexing and tussling among the ranks of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), Rev. Supo Ayokunle, yesterday emerged the new president of the umbrella Christian body in the country.

The elections held surreptitiously, one day behind the scheduled date, which was slated for today.
The elections took place in attempt to avoid alleged federal government intrusion, THISDAY learnt.

It also gathered that there were frantic efforts by some security agencies to arrest senior members of CAN, including the out going President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
Ayokunle defeated Prof. Joseph Otubu of the Motailatu Church Cherubim and Seraphim Movement (MCCSW) with 54 votes to 28.

Oritsejafor who announced the result to a rousing applause at the Ecumenical Centre, Abuja called for unity and a common front among Christians in the country.

The emergence of Ayokunle came amid wrangling among CAN members on the top post.
To that end, only two blocs out of five were able to nominate representatives for the primaries conducted by the Electoral College.

Thus, while Ayokunle, Head of Baptist Churches in Nigeria, emerged candidate of the Christian Council of Nigeria in the primaries, Prof. Otubu of Organisation of African Instituted Churches won the primaries to contest the election under the platform

This was part of the report submitted by the Electoral College signed by its chairman and former Chaplain of Aso Villa, Rev. Dr. Williams Okoye and Secretary, S.T.V. Adegbite.
Under the arrangement, while Ayokunle, flew the ticket of CCN in the election of CAN Presidency, Otubu sort election using the platform of OAIC.

The report had stated then that “the Electoral College met on Thursday, May 26, 2016 and each member of the college was given the opportunity to speak on the way foreword. After careful deliberations, nine members agreed that the Electoral College should conclude, vote and send her report to the national secretariat while six members differed.
“After the election, Ayokunle from CCN scored eight votes while Otubu scored two votes. Members of the Electoral College agreed to have autonomy and this should be taken care of in the new constitution.”

Contrary, the Evangelical Church of West Africa rejected the process and outcome, raising concern over the elections.
The ECWA Representative in CAN, Pastor Wakili Kadima and members of the National Executive Council of CAN representing the Youth Wing of Tarayya Ekklesiyoyin Kristi A Nigeria/ECWA Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Divine Eches, alleged then that the process leading to the elections was marred by ‘illegalities’ and ‘impunities’
The group particularly alleged that the nominee of TEKAN/ECWA, Jeremiah Gado was excluded as the consensus candidate of the TEKAN/ECWA bloc in CAN.

They told journalists then that “we have decided to let the world know that the process is flawed with irregularities, the exclusion of a candidate who was duly nominated has been due to so much impunity and so much violation of very clear constitutional provisions.

“And we not only reject what has happened but will certainly use every legal constitutional means within CAN, and if possibly outside CAN, to challenge the illegality. We urge that the right thing be done to save CAN from embarrassment and the perpetuation of impunity and illegality that is threatening to tear CAN into pieces.
“We in ECWA have decided to kick against the exclusion because the process came out with a minority report of members of the electoral college that didn’t agree with what went on and have even suggested that the present national officials of CAN should hand over to a caretaker team for a body that is impartial to conduct election for the new leadership of CAN to emerge.”

Further, President of the Patriotic Christian Youths of Nigeria, Simon Timothy Nasso debunked the claims describing them as tissue of lies.

He said: “The CAN constitution is very explicit about the nature of the candidature for the office of the President. Article 14(d) (ii) say; “Four or five candidates as the case may be shall be presented to the Electoral College, one from each constituent group of CAN. Two of the candidates who obtained the highest number of votes from the voting of the Electoral College shall be deemed nominated.

“It is so strange to note the level of political manipulations and attempt to forcefully impose a candidate before and during the selection process at the TEKAN/ECWA bloc level. We have observed strangely too the trend of events that accompanied the desperation in search for Gado’s nomination.

“There were pressures both from the public and the Electoral College on CAN leadership to give TEKAN/ECWA time to resolve her differences. Twice such opportunities were given and twice the bloc could not resolve her differences after several meetings which were punctuated by attacks from thugs.

“Then, the bloc leader helplessly wrote to tell CAN that consensus could not be reached and there is no sign that such consensus can be reached before the expiration of the tenure of the present leaders. CAN acts on same by directing the Electoral College to do the needful. Yet some selfish and compromisers want the election to be suspended until their preferred candidate is nominated.”
As at the time of filing this report, there were no comments from the different blocs that make up CAN.