5 Years After Withdrawal, Catholic Makes U-turn, Rejoins  CAN

Abuja (Sundiata Post) – About five years after withdrawal from the activities and part of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has made a u-turn and rejoined the association.

The Special Assistant (Media and Communications) to the CAN president, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.

According to him, after five years of absence from the activities of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has rejoined the association.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria were said to have, in a letter dated September 24, 2012, and signed by Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama, the President, Catholics Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBNC) and addressed to the then CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor announced its withdrawal from the organisation.

CAN was formed in 1976 by five Christian blocs in the country: the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN); the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN); the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria/Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN/CPFN); Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), and the Tarayar Ekklesiyoyin Kristi a Nigeria or The Fellowship of the Churches of Christ in Nigeria (TEKAN)/ Evangelical Church of Winning All (ECWA).

Following efforts by the current CAN president, Reverend Dr Samson Ayokunle, to foster unity in the association, and subsequent to a meeting held between the CBCN leadership and CAN last year, the CSN, last week, expressed readiness to work with the association.

A CSN delegation, led by Rev Fr. Prof. Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua, represented Archbishop Kaigama, at the expanded National Executive Committee meeting for the amendment of the constitution of CAN and the quarterly meeting of the Association.

Expressing his joy at the development, Ayokunle, who also doubles as the President, Nigerian Baptist Convention, said: “Their return was one of the best things that have happened since I was given the mandate to be president of the association. One of my visions for CAN is to bring our Catholic brothers and sisters back to the fold and I must acknowledge the support and understanding of my brother in Christ, Most Reverend Ignatius Kaigama, President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, and his team.

“I give kudos to all the principal officers, the directors and some Christian leaders in the country for their support and understanding while the dialogue lasted. My joy knows no bounds with the presence of the CSN at the Constitutional Amendment Meeting held last Thursday and at the National Executive Committee meeting of the Association on Friday. It is our prayers that the Body of Christ in the country will remain one forever in Jesus’ name.”

He restated the need for the association to embrace unity, noting that “at a time like this when Christians are almost becoming endangered species in Nigeria, and when the church is expected to speak for the voiceless especially over the economic and social hardship in our country, we cannot afford of being at war with ourselves.”

Speaking in the same vein, the CAN Chairman, North-Central, Reverend Dr Israel Akanji, who was among those who played prominent roles in the reconciliation, said the return of Catholics to the association was a good omen to the body of Christ in Nigeria.

Director of Legal issues, Barrister Samuel Kwanku, disclosed that the association was working on the new Constitution to ensure that “CAN has an effective internal mechanism to address any misunderstanding among its members. We are all happy with the return of the CSN. Our strength lies in our unity.”

The CSN delegation participated fully in all the discourse while the two days meeting lasted.