THE TEXT OF THE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE ASSISTANT GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (C.A.N) AND CHAIRMAN PLANNING COMMITTEE OF SAPPHIRE (45TH) CAN DAY CELEBRATION, ELDER BIODUN SANYAOLU ON 26TH AUGUST, 2021 TO MARK THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSOCIATION.
Gentlemen of the Press
I welcome you all to this Media briefing on the 45th Anniversary of the Christian Association of Nigeria. It is important to inform the world that CAN, 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 in Lagos. Thereafter, three other blocs; Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria/Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN/PFN), Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) and Tarrayar Ekklisiyoyin Kristi A Nigeria/Evangelical Church Winning All (TEKAN/ECWA) were admitted to the fold. CANwas established primarily 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).
Since the Association came on board, it has been consistently and persistently standing against the evil in the land. We joined other pro-democracy forces to fight injustice, inhuman policies, arrest and imprisonment of the innocent, perceived state murder like the unjust killing of the foremost environmentalist, Saro-Wiwa, the criminal annulment of the 12 June 1993 presidential election believed to have been won by the late businessman, Bashorun Moshood Abiola despite the fact that he was not a Christian. That shows that CAN is against injustice and any unpatriotic actions of the government.
Today, it is regrettable that there is a siege on the Church. It all began with the killings and burning of churches in some states in the North at the emergence of the Boko Haram terrorists. Their primary targets, according to their declaration, were Christians and fellow Muslims who stand on their way. You will recall that when their attacks on our members began, it was only CAN that was crying out until they began to attack their fellow Muslims. Several thousands of our members were killed including the late CAN Chairman in …Today, Leah Sharibu is a face of the persecuted Christians in the country. Her only offence was her refusal to disown her faith. She was forced to join about 120 abducted Chibok schoolgirls whose lives are being wasted in the den of the terrorists.
It is reprehensible that the security architecture of the country has been compromised. Terrorists are operating with impunity wherever and whenever they wanted. Our security agencies are giving us the impression that these terrorists, those operating in the Northwest are named bandits by their friends and sympathisers. It us needless to remind you of how they invaded some tertiary institutions in the North abducting and killing as if our security agencies were on holiday. Hundreds of innocent children are being threatened with guns by criminals including 63 students of Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna State. We wonder how some religious leaders are able to locate the location of the terrorists inside bush.
CAN is not happy with the economic recession that the country has been consistently going through. Although the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics has been telling us that we are out of it but the handwriting on the wall is saying otherwise. The cost of living is rising daily due to some inhuman policies like the hike in the fuel pump price and the attendant consequences. The army of our youths are have lost hope in the country that cannot take care of them. The list is endless.
Despite all these problems, we have many reasons to celebrate. If despite the efforts of the Association to speak truth to power, you can imagine what could have been happening without CAN. This is why some external forces are making futile attempts to hijack the Association. They are using some undisciplined and undiscipled Christians to attack the leadership of CAN. But we cannot lose our focus. Our members are being persecuted because of their faith. Some were denied of their inalienable rights like promotion and appointments. Churches are denying certificates of occupancy in many states in the North while many public schools have removed the Christian Religious Knowledge from their curriculum. If you take a critical look into some serious sector of the government, like security, one would begin to wonder if still have Christians in Nigeria. Yet, we have reasons to thank God for the existence of CAN. We have a government that does whatever it likes despite our crying and shouting yet we have reasons to celebrate God’s faithfulness over CAN. Thousands of our churches have been pulled down by the government or burnt by the terrorists yet we are still thanking God for allowing our founding Fathers to form the Association.
Next month, we have declared three days, 25- 27 September to celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness when we will take a full stock of the Association and celebrating some Christians who have been a shelter for the Association. However, tomorrow is a fasting and prayers nationwide against the menace of insecurity challenges, economic predicaments, erosion of moral and asking God for forgiveness and mercy.
We call on all Christians and non-Christians to join us tomorrow in seeking for the deliverance, freedom and liberty of our country from those who are hell bent in making an Afghanistan out of it. Our God is able to deliver us and He will and even if He did not, we will not bow down to any idol.
CAN is 45. It is a New Dawn for our Association and the country.
Thank You for your attention.