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The making of a new CAN President

Oritsejafor’s election as president of CAN on Monday was ratified by CAN’s General Assembly in Abuja last Tuesday. Speaking shortly after the confirmation ceremony, Oritsejafor…

Oritsejafor’s election as president of CAN on Monday was ratified by CAN’s General Assembly in Abuja last Tuesday.

Speaking shortly after the confirmation ceremony, Oritsejafor promised to fight corruption in the country as well as tackle the recurring religious crises in Northern Nigeria.

He said: “We continue to face monumental levels of corruption in our society, which translates into poor education for our children, deteriorating infrastructure, poor supply of electric power and a pervasive sense of hopelessness and helplessness among a host of other challenges.

“In many ways, the challenges that we as a nation are confronted with crystalise and find their mirror image in the challenges the body of Christ is confronted with in the north of the country.

“We must and shall continue to draw attention to the perennial religious crises in Northern Nigeria until we break the vicious cycle of violence and victimisation.

“There must be no doubt in your minds my brethren that if we are bold and courageous and prepared to speak truth to our times and to ourselves, we shall be the arrowhead of changes that Nigeria and Nigerians call out for. We must be as wise as serpents, so that the voice of the church is listened to and heard with clarity and without equivocation.”

He thanked the outgoing president of CAN, Archbishop John Onaiyekan, for his meritorious service to the association in the last three years and said he would always count on Onaiyekan’s counsel.

The erstwhile CAN president, Onaiyekan who quoted CAN’s motto: That They May Be One, reiterated the need for the brethren to close the gaps among the different divisions in CAN.

“If we must be sincere with ourselves, we know that we are not yet one. There are divisions and differences among us and these are not negligible. More significantly, such divisions at times impede our ability to work together effectively,” he lamented.

He however said there was need to create fora for dialogue with a view to settle the differences but cautioned that “the pages of newspapers are certainly not the best place to settle our differences. Journalists may not always have the best interest of the church at heart.”

He therefore, admonished journalists and the brethren to uphold St Paul’s injunction in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not use harmful words in talking. Use only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” He reminded the gathering of the need to work harmoniously with non Christians as stated in Romans 12:18.

He congratulated Oritsejafor and thanked everyone for the cooperation they gave his executive in the last three years.

Three hundred and six delegates were present. President Goodluck Jonathan was represented by the Minister of Water Resources, Mr Obadiah Ando.

Similarly, Dr Abdullateef Adegbite, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs who is also member of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) was there as well as a representative from the Kaduna State government.

Oritsejafor who is also the President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) is the presiding pastor of the Word of Life Bible Church, Warri.  He was voted CAN president last Monday by an electoral college of 104 members, where he polled 66 votes against the former president’s 38 votes.

Archbishop Daniel Okoh who is of the Organisation of African Instituted Church of Christ (OAIC) was made vice president.

Oritsejafor’s election along with that of his vice was ratified last Tuesday by a 301-member General Assembly.

Going by CAN’s constitution, Onaiyekan would have been the vice president having scored the highest votes after Oritsejafor, but he said he could not comeback to be vice president having been president himself.

CAN General Secretary, Engr. Samuel Salifu, told journalists that the election was peaceful.

Salifu said that while in office Onaiyekan was able to bridge the rift between Christians and Muslims in the country, stressing that Onaiyekan was a peaceful person who did not believe in spitting fire when presenting Christian issues.

“He has also bought an estate for CAN in Kubwa and laid the foundation stone for the construction of 300-bedroom Guest House at the Ecumenical Centre,” Salifu enumerated.

Delegates who spoke to Sunday Trust expressed satisfaction with the way the election was conducted.

The Niger State Chairman of CAN, Rev. Musa Dada, said: “I like the way Onaiyekan conducted the election. Immediately the results were announced, he shook Oritsejafor, congratulating him.”

The election was conducted by an electoral committee headed by the Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Ola Makinde under close doors.

Oritsejafor who is an Itsekiri from Delta State, is said to start his ministry in the 70’s. In 1972 specifically, the Lord miraculously saved him during a crusade and he felt the call of God upon his life and enrolled in the New Covenant Bible Institute, Benin City, Nigeria.

 From a humble beginning of using a class room to a warehouse and then an open field, today his church has built a 35,000-seater Church Auditorium in Ajamimogha, Warri, Delta  State.

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