CAN Presidential Dialogue with Atiku, Obi, Adebayo

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), yesterday, said it had not changed its position on same-faith ticket.

Speaking during the Second Phase of Dialogue with the Presidential Candidates of Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Atiku Abubakar, Labour Party(LP), Mr. Peter Obi, and their Social Democratic Party (SDP) counterpart, Adewole Adebayo; the President of CAN, Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Okoh emphasized: ”If we want to change any position, we’ll let the Nigerian public know,”.

The three candidates also unfolded their agenda on restructuring, insecurity, economy, power and corruption.

While Atiku shared how he planned to address the age-old issue of restructuring and devolution of power to the federating units, if elected in the 2023 election, Obi highlighted his vision for the economy and wealth creation, as Adebayo said he would prioritize food security, housing, education and infrastructure development.

CAN, however, presented an 11-point demand entitled, ‘Charter for Future Nigeria’ to the presidential candidates which outlined key areas of interest for the good of the common man. Adding that a holistic amendment of the 1999 Constitution was a necessity for justice, peace, unity, prosperity and progress of the nation.

At the interactive session were leaders of CAN and representatives of various Christian blocs; Atiku’s running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State; and the PDP National chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu.

Others include Governor of Taraba State, Dairus Ishaku; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Vice President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tom Ikimi; and Chairman Emeritus of Daar Communications Plc, Dr. Raymond Dokpesi.

Also present were a former governor of Cross River, Liyel Imoke; Senator Philip Aduda, Senator Dino Melaye, Timi Alaibe, Kenneth Imasuagbon, Dele Momodu, former Governor Boni Haruna of Adamawa State, and other PDP, LP, and SDP chieftains among others.

In the CAN President’s remark, he states that CAN is very careful not to be partisan, insisting that its position on same-faith ticket remains the same.

He said: “We have not changed our position (on same-faith ticket). If we want to change any position, we’ll let the Nigerian public know. And so, when people read insinuations in the social media, I will advise that people to come verify, and to be sure that what you see out there is truly the position of CAN.

“This year, CAN has decided to expand this interactive session to include the media and and other leaders so that the conversation will be seen to be as open as possible, and that the people will see that there is no secret. There are no secret meetings and there is nothing hidden at all in any conversation.

“We gave two dates and we wrote to all the 18 presidential candidates and we invited all to interactive session on November 15 and November 16.

“We are not going to endorse any political party. And we also want to let you know that Christian Association of Nigeria has taken the stand on a number of political issues in this country, not for the church alone, but for the well being of the people and future of our country. And we are not about to change those positions we have taken because it took us a long time to arrive at those positions and decisions.”

While addressing CAN, Atiku Abubakar assured the Christian leaders of devolving power to the component regions and states of the federation, noting that restructuring of the country is imperative for Nigeria to make progress in 2023 and beyond.

Broaching the issue which has been a sensitive and contentious subject between the Northern and Southern regions, the PDP flag bearer agreed with CAN that state police and fiscal restructuring are constitutional matters requiring the urgent attention of the country’s next president.

He said: “My brothers and sisters, I stand before you here not to campaign but to tell you the honest truth. What you have presented to us is what I have always believed in and if I have the opportunity. I swear to God I will do it.

“We cannot have state police without having a constitutional amendment, so we will go into constitution amendment where we will have different levels of police. These are our plans to tackle the security challenges facing the country.

“For sure, we need a judicial amendment, first of all, there are poor wages for Judges, very poor working conditions. Again, the judiciary has levels, federal judiciary, state, but we will attempt as much as possible to have a judicial reform where we will improve dispensation of justice and also the welfare of Judges.”

He vowed to expunge the sections of the 1999 Constitution that reinforced indigeneship at the expense of citizenship.

“I am a supporter of the removal of clause of definition of indigeneship in our constitution. Once you reside in any part of the country, and you pay your taxes, you should be entitled to indigeneship,” he noted.

Speaking during his interactive session with Christian leaders, the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, said he would rescue Nigeria from its status as a failed state if elected president in 2023.

Like Atiku, he reiterated that insecurity would be a thing of the past under his administration, declaring that he was committed to unlocking the greatness of the country and lifting her from a consuming country to a producing one.

Obi said Nigeria had met the qualifications to be characterized as a failed state, because the country is no longer in control of its territory and economy.

“All presidential candidates will tell you the same story, everybody’s story will be as sweet as the other ones. What you are going to do is to check the sincerity and the truth and the one you can trust.

“It is now who among these 18 presidential candidates can you trust, because there is no promise that we are going to make that has not been made in the past, that promise has always been there.

“What I want to do is to move the country from consumption to production, it is not a productive country, our priority is to secure and unite the country, it is the number one thing you need to do.

“Nigeria has hit the two most critical things that qualifies a country to a failed state, number one, when you are no longer in control of your territory, we are no longer in control of our territory, number two, is when you are no longer in control of your economy, nobody can tell you today how much they are going to sell a bag of rice tomorrow. No country can function like that.

When it was his turn to speak, the SDP presidential candidate stated that it was wrong to separate the state from religion in the pursuit of common good for all.

According to him, both are like Siamese twins and mutually reinforcing each other for the peace and progress of nation, but regretted that unscrupulous politicians seek to break that bond between the two.

“That is why leaders when they are doing wrong, I mean political leaders, and religious leaders come out to talk, they will say, separate religion from state.

“But when the state is in trouble, we’ll call religious leaders to come and explain. When we have failed in our credibility, because we have no provided for the people, and they’re not listening to us. We go to religious leaders for help,” he explained.

Nigeria’s 62nd Independence Service

The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence, Most Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Okoh has called on all Nigerians to believe and constantly pray for the nation, as God is intentional about the all-round blessing and upliftment of Nigeria. This was part of his sermon delivered at the Inter-denominational Church Service to mark Nigeria’s 62nd Independence Anniversary, held yesterday at the National ecumenical Centre, Abuja.

Archbishop Okoh in his sermon titled: “The Righteous Shall Rule the Land”, urged Nigerians to understand that “all politicians are not the same”, thereby encouraging them to ensure they vote for quality leadership in the forthcoming elections.

He also emphasized that despite all the security, economic and social challenges being experienced by the country, there was so much to appreciate God for especially for the uninterrupted democracy since 1999.

(L-R) Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Okoh, CAN President, Mrs Daniel Okoh, Mrs Boss Mustapha, SGF Boss Mustapha, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, President of the Courts of Appeal, Monica Dongban-Mensem, Deputy Whip House of Rep Nkiru and HOS Dr Folashade Yemi Esan at the 62nd Nigerian Independence Day Interdenominational Service at the National Christian Centre, Abuja.

The CAN President called on all eligible voters to jealously guard their permanent voters’ cards and to those who were yet to receive theirs, he advised that they do so in order to be fit to exercise their civic responsibility at the polls in the 2023 general elections. He further called on the government to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) all the necessary support  needed to conduct credible elections come 2023.

Also in attendance were the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, Service Chiefs, Representatives from all arms of government and the diplomatic community.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and CAN President, Archbishop Daniel Okoh

In his address, Prof Osinbajo said a prayer for the peace and progress of the nation taking his reference from the book of the Bible, Deuteronomy 33:25, “as your days, so shall your strength be”, expressing hope that Nigeria will surmount all the challenges bedeviling her to become a prosperous nation.

Insecurity In The Country Is The Biggest Threat To 2023 Elections – CAN

The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has described the menace of insecurity challenges occasioned by the criminal activities of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers in the  country as the biggest threat to the next year general election.

The CAN President, His Eminence, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle made this assertion on Tuesday evening in an interactive session which some Christian leaders had with the European Union Delegation led by the EU Chief Election Observer, Ms. Maria Arena who are on a mission to the country from 1-5 March in preparation for the coming general election observation.

The EU Delegation wanted to know the position of the Association on the preparation of all the stakeholders – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agencies and the political parties.

Dr. Ayokunle who also doubles as the Co-Chairman of the Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) explained that the security situation in the country might not allow the general election to be credible, free and fair if the voters are not allowed to go out to exercise their inalienable rights because of fear of being harmed or kidnapped or killed.

“We call on the Federal Government and the security agencies to wake up to the security challenges in the country where terrorists, bandits and kidnappers are operating with impunity and nowhere is safe and secure again. If the trend continues, many voters may not participate and the outcome of the election may not be credible,” the CAN President said.

He observed that the government appears to be struggling to nip the ugly situation in the bud, their present effort is far from being enough. We have been strugglingwith this situation now for the past thirteen years, yet, we are still where we are!

He also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be apolitical in the assignment and asked the members of the commission who are card carrying members of the ruling party to step down or be flushed out in order to avoid compromised election results.

Ayokunle tasked INEC to borrow a leaf from its counterpart in Gambia where their recently  conducted elections were far better than Nigeria’s elections. All election observers, including All Africa Conference of Churches’ delegation that he led there adjudged the election to be credible.

According to him, ‘Gambia’s elections were more credible, free and fair. It was also free from security harassment and there was a level playing field for all the parties involved.’ ‘We are supposed to be doing better because we have more resources and more capacity than Gambian.’

L-R: Barr. Mrs. Comfort Chigbue (National Legal Director, CAN), Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle (President, CAN), EU Chief Election Observer, Ms. Maria Arena; Barr. Daramola Joseph (General Secretary, CAN), and Apostle ‘Biodun Sanyaolu (Assistant General Secretary. CAN)

The CAN President who disclosed that CAN has no candidate for the office of the President however reiterated the position of the Association on the need to have a Christian President as the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari who is a Muslim and would have spent eight years in office by the time he is handing over to the next president.

According to him, “Although Nigeria is practicing democracy but because of our peculiarities which include multicultural, multi-tribal, and multi-religious nature, ours should be a ‘home grown democracy’ where every divide should be given a sense of belonging. Even if the constitution is silent on the six geopolitical zones rotational representation, the political parties should be wise enough to make use of it in sharing the leadership positions. We have warned all political parties against fielding either Muslim-Muslim or Christian-Christian Presidential candidates. Since President Muhammadu Buhari is a Muslim from the North, in the interest of equity, fairness, social justice and cohesion, the next President should be a Christian from the South”.

After the interactions, the leader of the delegation, Ms Maria Arena thanked the leadership of CAN for honouring their invitation and promised to be carrying the Association along in their assignments.

Meanwhile, the CAN President, Rev. Dr Samson Ayokunle has advised all churches in Nigeria to make the first week of March a WEEK OF SOUL WINNING. He urged all churches under the umbrella of the Association to be using the week as a period of soul winning so that bloodletting and all other crimes might reduce. He urged Christians to share their faith, their testimonies and spread the gospel of God’s love and mercy to all who have not known the Lord through Jesus Christ. preach the Kingdom of God to the world.