CAN Election: Akinola, Others to Shun Peace Meeting

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Paul Obi in Abuja

A former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Most Rev. Peter Akinola, and many other religious leaders on Wednesday said they have declined to attend the meeting of Christian elders scheduled for Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Thursday.

The gathering is aimed at bringing peace after the divisions created during the last CAN elections.

It was said to have been initiated by the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese and former President of CAN, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, at the residence of a former President of CAN and ex-Primate of the Methodist Church, Sunday Mbang.

Onaiyekan, in his invitation letter, however, admitted that he has “no authority” to summon any national meeting of CAN.

Apart from Akinola, it was learnt that most of the senior religious leaders and elders made it clear that they could not attend said the meeting because of lack of clarifications.

In a letter to Onaiyekan and obtained by journalists on Wednesday in Abuja, Akinola explained that he would not attend the meeting because the information got to him very late.

“I waited to hear from you the response of others to our proposals; your mail arrived my inbox late midnight in Nairobi. I am very sorry to have to say that I might not be able to attend the Uyo consultation. I have been travelling rather extensively within and outside these shores in the last few weeks. In point of fact, I just came back from Nairobi exhausted, having spent two sleepless nights due to flight delays.

“My two knees are wobbling. My doctor suggests that I take off at least the next one week to rest because as of this moment, I am physically unfit to undertake any further travels in the next few weeks.”

Although it is not part of its constitution, the usual practice and tradition is that the Vice President of CAN automatically takes over (through election) from the President whenever the tenure of the latter expires.

The National Director of Christ Redeemers Union, Dr. Ebenezer Olusola Abednego, had faulted its legality, alleging that the meeting which had also invited the outgoing President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor was not in the best interest of CAN

But both Onaiyekan and Mbang however denied the allegation.

It would be recalled that while Ayokunle, President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, contested the CAN presidential election under the platform of the Christian Council of Nigeria, his Vice-President-Elect, Prof. Joseph Otubu, of the Motailatu Church Cherubim and Seraphim Movement, contested under the umbrella of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches.

The inauguration of the new leadership of CAN will hold on July 20 during the forthcoming General Assembly of CAN in Abuja to be presided over by Oritsejafor, who is the Founder of the Word of Life Bible Church in Warri, Delta State.
In the invitation letter, Onaiyekan said, “Three of us, Prelate Sunday Mbang, Primate Peter Akinola and John Cardinal Onaiyekan, all former Presidents of CAN), consulted among ourselves over the past week-end, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.