After a five-year abscence, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has returned to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria had in a letter dated September 24, 2012, addressed to the then CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, announced its withdrawal from the association.
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), Tarayar Ekklesiyoyin Kristi a Nigeria or The Fellowship of the Churches of Christ in Nigeria (TEKAN)/ Evangelical Church of Winning All (ECWA).
A statement by the Special Assistant to CAN President on Media and Communications, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji confirmed the development adding that since the emergence of Rev Dr Samson Olasupo Ayokunle as the CAN head, “he has been working hard behind the scene to ensure the return of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria to the fold.”
The statement adds: “Most Rev Kagama had led the leadership of CBNC to the CAN National secretariat last year where, in a meeting with Dr Ayokunle’s team, they addressed the identified grey areas and Kagama disclosed the readiness of the Catholics to work with the new leadership.
“And history was made (last) Thursday and Friday with the appearance of the CSN delegation led by Rev Fr. Prof Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua who represented Most Rev Kagama at the expanded National Executive Committee meeting for the amendment of the constitution of CAN and the quarterly meeting of the Association.”
Reacting to the return of the CAN, Rev Ayokunle: “Their return was one of the best things that have been happening since I was given the mandate to become the 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 Rev 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 bond with the presence of the CSN at the Constitutional Amendment Meeting held on 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.
“At a time like this when Christians are almost becoming endangered species in Nigeria; when churches are being denied Certificates of Occupancy (for lands) especially in the core North; when Christians are being denied key public offices; 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”.
Ayokunle, who also doubles as the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention said further, “Our Association is unity in diversity. Jesus Christ prayed for the Church shortly before He returned to heaven in John chapter 17 when He said, ‘I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me”’ (John 17: 20 -21).