Paul Obi in Abuja
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Saturday debunked an expectation that since a northerner is the President of the country and Head of Government, CAN should also produce a northerner as president.
The association said such views are faulty and disingenuous to the unity of the body, arguing that the constitution of the association does not recognise any dichotomy of northern and southern CAN.
President of the Patriotic Christian Youths of Nigeria (PCYN) Evang. Simon Timothy Nasso who spoke on behalf of the body stated that the argument that it is the turn of a northerner to occupy CAN presidency was unfounded and does not conform to the tenets of CAN’s constitution.
Nasso said: “On the issue of Northern and southern CAN or southern and Northern CAN candidates; the Bible is very explicit about evidence of those trying to tear the church apart; some claimed to be for Apostle Paul while others Barnabas.
“For the record, there is no Northern or Southern CAN in the current CAN constitution. The CAN constitution provides for the states and the geo-political zones for ease of administration only. Those telling you that the North will break out of CAN are just deceiving the public.”
He contended that those purported to be championing such primordial course “are not in the CAN Constitution in the first place. If we must say the truth, they are a set of disgruntled former CAN leaders and their supporters who are trying to find a place of leadership in CAN. They have lost touch with CAN and have been looking for an opportunity to create a faction.
“They are persons who feel a Northern Government in Nigeria should have a Northern CAN leadership. For your information, all the statutory leaders of CAN in Northern Nigeria were at the CAN election; the zonal and state chairmen were all present.
“As we have said before, our organisation is made up of members mostly from Northern Nigeria, we are simply fighting against falsehood, deceit, corruption and anything that will distract the church leaders from giving due attention to issues affecting the church for the interest of few who have taken advantage of the press and ignorant Nigerians to cause confusion and division.”
He stated that majority of Christians “are happy to note that the peaceful conduct of the election which brought up Rev. Dr. Samson Supo Ayokunle as President and Prof. Joseph Otubu as Vice President has put to rest the tension and agitation that characterised the process.
On the news that the Catholic bloc pulled out of CAN and did not participate in the elections because a particular candidate was denied participation, he said, “It is true that the Catholic Secretariat bloc through the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria wrote a letter to the CAN President demanding for a meeting to be held and some issues regarding the elections are resolves before election.
“The leadership of CAN, understanding the need for peaceful resolution of issues and appreciating the importance of the Catholic bloc’s participation, agreed that the CAN NEC will sit and resolve the grievances of the Catholic bloc before the commencement of the election.
“At the meeting, special opportunity was given to the Catholic bloc who was fully represented in the meeting, but the most unfortunate aspect of the whole issue is that the leader of the Catholic bloc who is also the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria who signed the letter was represented in the meeting as it has always been the case. Unfortunately the representative came with a standing order that they were free to participate in the meeting but must abstain from voting if election will be conducted.
“Notwithstanding, the CAN leadership gave the Catholic bloc the opportunity to express their feelings which the Bishop’s Representative did quite well and members responded with convincing position but the 10 delegates from Catholic could not vote because they couldn’t reach the Bishops with the result before the end of the meeting.
“Knowing Archbishop Kaigama as a peaceful man, we expect that for the sake of his love for the church and avoidance of insinuations he would have speared time to attend the meeting personally. We have made several clarifications on this matter but for the records, no CAN leader prevented any candidate from participation in the election. As being the practice, letters were written to all the blocs to present candidates for the election.”