2021 SAPPHIRE (45TH) CAN DAY PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS

THE TEXT OF THE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (C.A.N) HIS EMINENCE, REV (DR.) SAMSON OLASUPO A. AYOKUNLE AT THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF C.A.N ON FIRDAY 27TH AUGUST 2021

Precious Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Bible says:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth forth his works. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).

The Christian Association of Nigeria is Forty-Five years old today. Our Association, which is the largest ecumenical body in Nigeria and indeed Africa was established by the collective effort of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) and the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) during the then Federal Military Government under General Olusegun Obasanjo on the 27th August, 1976. Thereafter, 3 other blocs were created namely: (i) Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria/Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN/PFN), (ii) Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) and (iii) Tarrayar Ekklisiyoyin Kristi A Nigeria/Evangelical Church Winning All (TEKAN/ECWA) CAN was established to promote understanding, peace and unity amongst the various people and strata of society in Nigeria through the propagation of the gospel. The little acorn has since developed into a mighty oak.

It is pertinent to state that CAN is an Association of Christian Churches with distinct identities, recognizable Church structures and system of worship of one God in the Trinity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The Association makes Christ the centre of all its works and has continued to promote the glory of God, by encouraging the growth and unity of the Churches. No doubt, the journey has been both pleasant and intriguing. Pleasant because the inherited wall of bricks has become a city of Gold and a rallying point of faith. Intriguing because we have continued to survive challenges which threaten our unity and corporate existence. Our gratitude is borne out of the fact that “If it has not been the Lord who was on our side, now what may Israel say.” (Psalm 124).

It is indeed a thing of joy that the association has been living to its expectations and has never for once reneged on its cardinal objectives. Over the last forty-five years, the Association has been deeply engrained in its core objectives and has remained a ‘watchman’ on the spiritual and moral welfare of our Nation, Nigeria. CAN is also known as a constant force and vociferous voice against all manners of socio-political ills in Nigeria. The Association is renowned and respected for its moral and spiritual significance.

We thank and appreciate our founding fathers, past Presidents, as well as the past National Executive members who have worked assiduously in laying the right foundation for the Association on which successive administrations draw their strengths. We also appreciate everybody who have at one time or the other served the Association with their time, talent, wisdom and treasures. We cannot count our successes today without leveraging on their invaluable contributions.

As watch persons over the affairs of this Nation, we are not unaware of some of the challenges of our dear country, most especially that of religious intolerance and the activities of Boko Haram, bandits and other criminals which have made many people, particularly Christians homeless. The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps scattered all over the country are predominantly occupied by Christians from the North West, North East and the North Central part of the Nation. It breaks our hearts that large majority of people in IDP camps are Christians, mostly displaced by religious terrorists and intolerance in their neighbourhoods. The events of the past few months had been absolutely unpleasant – gory to sight and depressing to the soul. Insecurity is so prevalent today to the extent that in the early morning of August 24, 2021, the Nigerian Defense Academy was invaded by bandits with two high ranking military officers killed and one kidnapped.

The Christian Association of Nigeria, in finding a lasting solution to the problems of our country recently released a copyright document named ‘The Charter for the New Nigeria.’ The rationale is to save Nigeria from collapse and rebuild it on a solid foundation of freedom, justice, mutual respect, and shared prosperity. The Charter for the New Nigeria© presents a simple diagnosis of why Nigeria has failed to achieve its future of justice, unity and prosperity and offers a set of structural reforms to create a new and better future for Nigeria. It is not a Christian vision. It is not a Muslim vision. It is not a southern vision. It is not a northern vision. It is the vision for all Nigerians, for a new Nigeria that works for all. The Christian community in Nigeria is worried that Nigeria is sliding towards complete state failure. We are worried that disorientation and ineffectiveness in public leadership make this a self-fulfilling prophecy. But we are reassured by the words of the Scripture that whenever a people recognize their errors and make amend, God of justice will show them mercy and the land will be healed.

Nigeria is not a lost case. Absolutely, it is not. Nigeria has hope and a great future. But that hope and future rest on resolving the constitutional incoherence that has defined our bloody past and our miserable present. But if we agree to create a new constitutional order on the basis of equality, justice, self-determination and mutual respect, if we determine to create a new social compact between Nigerians of different religious, ethnic and social groups, we will recover the promise of a great, peaceful, and prosperous Nigeria.

Dearly Beloved, I must also let you know that in commemoration of our 45th Anniversary, CAN has deemed it fit to honour and appreciate some carefully selected Christian Leaders in the positions of titular command who are projecting the image of Christ and leading according to the ethics, ethos and pathos of Christianity. These individuals will be decorated during the Dinner & Award Night which will hold in the month of September.

The age of forty-five is symbolic with truth, spirituality, balance, stability, harmony, gratitude, idealism and love, it is called sapphire. We therefore believe that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is entering into its God ordained year of peace, blessings, abundance and glory. The years the locusts had eaten will be restored unto us (Joel 2:25). Every written code and prophecy of doom pronounced cancelled. TOGETHER we shall surmount the problems and challenges confronting our nation. TOGETHER we shall rise above the abyss into our God ordained destiny.

TOGETHER we shall fight the monster of corruption, nepotism, religious madness and utter human wickedness bedeviling our nation. The hour has come for us to pray more and seek God’s face and intervention.    

As we look forward to more glorious years ahead, I enjoin all members of the Association to remain steadfast in prayers, resolute in their faith and trusting in the supreme Will of the Almighty God as we continue to march on in our earthly pilgrimage. I particularly appreciate our Heads of Blocs, Zonal and State Chairmen and canvass for their continuous support and solidarity in meeting our set goals and objectives. I also thank our Heads of denominations for all their support.

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We sincerely appreciate the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the Vice President, Pastor Prof. Yemi Osibajo GCON and members of his Cabinet for the support and cooperation thus far. I also wish to appreciate all our State Governors, members of the National Assembly, the Judiciary and indeed all Nigerians for their support and conviviality given to our association at the state and local government levels. Looking forward, we enjoin them to be at their best in salvaging the country from its current socio-political ills.

Conclusively, on behalf of my good self and the leadership of our Association, I rejoice with the entire Nigerian Christian Community on the joy of this occasion. It is our prayer that the Church of God will continue to wax stronger and that the Gate of hell will not prevail against it.

Happy 45th Anniversary!

LONG LIVE THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA &

LONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

For the King,

His Eminence Rev. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle (PhD)

NATIONAL PRESIDENT, CAN &

CO-CHAIRMAN, NIGERIA INTER-RELIGIOUS COUNCIL (NIREC)

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