Restructuring CAN, Before It Is Too Late


Perhaps every part of Nigeria, including religious sector needs restructuring after all.


When the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria was threatening brimstones and fire and posing to tear the body of Christ in Nigeria apart, because of their alleged exclusion and the dominance of the Orthodox churches and the Protestants, well meaning Nigerians had thought it was a good move to ‘democratise’the household of God after all.

But little did they know that the true Christian elders, even as they sat on the floor, could still see beyond what the exuberant Pentecostals claimed to have seen, with their agitation, as they climbed to the mountain tops – apology to the Igbo elders.

Perhaps, if the revered Cardinals, Reverend Fathers and respected Bishops had realised that the new generation churches and their pastors, whose only understood language is money and politics, they probably wouldn’t have vacated the scene for the ‘reformists’. Indeed, if the Catholic church had known that the reason behind their withdrawal (from CAN) that was triggered by the attendant mismanagement and rapaciousness of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor – an illustrious student of late Arch Bishop Benson Idahosa – would eventually turn out to be a child’s play when compared with today’s ‘power miss road’ leadership of the association; they probably would have tarried to rescue the mansion they laboured hard to build.

Today, it is obvious that the respected Nigerian Christian faithful, sagacious Christian elders, and real Christian leaders are not happy wherever they are. They have maintained the silence of the grave despite the recent bashing of what remains of CAN’s integrity, honour and dignity occasioned by the association’s misdemeanor, lack of tact, thoroughness, scholarship, intellectualism and leadership expected of the once highly revered umbrella body of the Nigerian Christians.

Though many have called for CAN’s restructuring, after its unwholesome meddlesomeness in national affairs and its penchant to label every government moves Islamisation, alleging plots to sell Nigeria to the Arabs; it was the call by Adejare Ibrahim, a social media activist and social commentator that caught my fancy. His opinion was beautifully captured in these words:

“Restructuring will not be a bad idea in the leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria. It is quite understandable that there’s a need for a body that will speak on behalf of the teeming Nigerian Christians. The Christian body was a cynosure of all eyes and an embodiment of virtues when the then Bishop, now Anthony, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, Reverend Matthew Hasan Kukah, Idowu Feron and Cardinal John Onayekan were in charge. Critical and topical national issues were brought to the front burner for cerebral discourse and debate. Then, CAN was free of bigotry and pettiness.

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“The Nigeria Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) viewed CAN as a partner in progress – and vice versa – not as a rival. It was at the time of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor that everything went topsy-turvy. Pettiness, hate and unhealthy rivalry were ushered into CAN by Oritsejafor and his co-travellers in the running of affairs of the once-cherished religious body. When Oritsejafor took over the baton of leadership, everything in CAN became monetised and politicised. Issues of no-national relevance took the centre stage. Fake prophecies, political patronage, unguarded utterances, sectarianism and intolerance became the order of the day. When these became unbearable, the Catholic had to save its face by opting out of CAN and dissociating itself of CAN’s misdemeanor. I respect the Catholic Church for taking this bold and brilliant step.

“Well-meaning Nigerian Christians need to come to the rescue of CAN before it is brought to further ignominious status. Nigerian Christians are more brilliant, intelligent, intelligible and tolerant beyond what CAN is portraying them to be. That is the reason I opined that CAN needs to be restructured. If CAN is not restructured, no government will take them seriously,” Adejare submitted.

With this call it means therefore, that no region or organisation should left out of Restructuring. They all need to be repositioned for better and enhanced performance

Other perspectives

This is why many are of the belief that it is never too late for the leadership of CAN to retrace its steps and get the organisation restructured to pave way for healthy religious atmosphere, in tune with the mandate of Mark 12:31 – “Love your neighbours as yourself”.

Responding to Ibrahim’s post, Posi Tunbosun, a Christian threw more light into CAN’s sojourn:

“The CAN used to be populated by Catholics, Anglican, Methodists, Baptists with strong governance culture, with almost ALL their leaders, academic and philosophical in their public policies. Now that the new CAN had accepted Pentecostal Fellowship organisations that promote get rich quick philosophy, what do you think would happen? Change in policy of course.

“Many of these PFN guys that I know (not all of them, please) are money launderers as I’ve come across some names like Chris Oyakhilome in my research. I’m sad that the docile Nigerian government never prosecuted him, nor try to recover church monies now diverted to his personal account, and kept in Cayman Island and Belize in his name. Perhaps it is because of asset strippers like this that the late foremost magician, ‘professor’ Peller once said that: if he had known that Pentecostal christianity would be profitable like it is today, he would have set out as one.

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“As a Christian myself, I’m sometimes ashamed of some of the ignoramus positions taken by the leadership of the CAN. But then it must be understood from what the new CAN stands for, which could be summarised as: when there is clash between virtue, ethical stance and vain material possession that benefits few thieves, the latter prevails,”  Tunbosun submitted.

In the heat of recent controversies that trailed CAN’s moves, one Olajide Abiola surmised that the controversies would have been avoided if religious organisations stopped playing politics with citizens’ emotions.

“Some Churches already have Microfinance Banks. They can upgrade to DMBs by taking regional or national license. There are plentiful Jewish names to give the banks. What’s hard?

“Does the ignorant CAN think set up of Islamic Bank is government funded? Are they aware that Christians are in the employment of the only Islamic Bank in Nigeria today? That is, Jaiz Bank.

“There are more Christian owned Universities in Nigeria today than Muslim owned Universities. Does that mean NUC is trying to Christianize Nigeria? Winners alone has two and a 3rd one is in the offing. Baptist has like 3. Anglican has. Deeper life has. Catholic has. Apostolic has. Salem University. Redeem has. ECWA has. There is Idahosa University. Deeper Life is building too. What’s the name of this Babcock people sef? Ehen, Seventh Day Adventist.

“CAN should better direct the churches to go obtain banking licenses with the stash of tithes and offerings in their keep. God doesn’t spend these monies. They too should give ‘interest free’ loans,” Abiola advised.

But how did CAN get into this murky waters. Ibrohem Garba O was particularly irked and perturbed by the Nigerians silence to CAN’s recklessness. Its misadventure ranges from involvement in money laundering, arms running (South African 15 million dollars armsgate scandal or ‘dollar for arm’) to duping of faithful and other immoral acts.

Garba maintained that CAN desperately seeks relevance in the national polity after it has wasted all its social capital since the appearance of PFN leadership led by Pastor Oritsejafor:

“The only way they think they can convince most Christians that they are working is to dabble all the time in National issues calling every government policy Islamization without even knowing what the policy is all about. One of the most lucrative industries today is to set up a church. They (the pastors) engage and manipulate the minds of their followers, taking away their thinking from what they are getting by forming unnecessary rivalry especially with Islam that doesn’t even mind them most times. They truly need restructing most especially the present CAN. Sometimes I wonder if CAN is one of the political parties in Nigeria!”

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At this period when Nigeria desperately needs peace, stability and security for steady development, one cannot but be concerned about regular confrontational attitude of CAN. It is therefore not surprising that both Christians and Muslims alike have virtually been unanimous in condemning CAN’s belligerence to prevent it from pushing Nigeria into another religious crisis.

Emefiele emerges Chairman, Global Islamic Bank

Incidentally, as if that was not enough, just as the dusts raised by both CAN and the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) releases were settling down, in the milieu, our own Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele emerged the Chairman of Global Islamic Bank.

A statement from the CBN said Emefiele was elected on in Jakarta, Indonesia as the Chairman of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation.

The Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said by this development, Emefiele had also become the head of the General Assembly of the financial body comprising nine countries and the Islamic Development Bank, with headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation is a global institution established by central banks, monetary authorities and multilateral organisations to create and issue short-term Shariah-compliant financial instruments to facilitate effective cross-border Islamic liquidity management.

Imperative of restructuring

Without doubt, the reaction of CAN (and NCEF) has inadvertently portrayed the Christian body as anti-progress association, with series of knocks from many organisations and bodies. The criticisms alleged CAN of mischief and portrayed its position as ill-informed. Hence the need for restructuring of the once vibrant and highly revered, unbiased organisation.

Apart from the primary responsibility of protecting the rights, interests and privileges of its members, Nigeria definitely needs an informed, critically minded and intellectually profound CAN to act as check and balances to critical government policies with a view to moving the nation forward – contrary to arrant display of pettiness, bigotry and unhealthy rivalry that only contribute to heating the polity unnecessarily.

Yinka Salaam

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