CAN president Rev Dr. Samson Ayokunle
Excerpts from the speech by President of Christian Association of Nigeria Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle at the media parley with Christian Press Association of Nigeria which held on May 28 2019 at the Raddison Blu Hotel, GRA Ikeja, Lagos.
I thank Lagos State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria for doing all within its power to make this parley a possibility. Let me start by saying that I did not come to CAN by political scheming. I came to CAN by revelation. In 2015 October I was holidaying in Houston Texas with my wife when the Lord showed me a revelation. In the revelation I saw the ballot boxes of election in the CAN with my name on it. Behind Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) to which my church belongs I saw my name. I saw people leaving their bloc to go and cast vote for me; dropping it in the CCN box.
When I could not hold it again, I challenged one of them and asked why he was casting vote for me. I woke up from that revelation and shared it with my wife. My wife sprang up and said it won’t work. She said there was no way I could be president of CAN that people like me can’t operate in the CAN environment. She said she was going to ask his prayer partners to pray against the dream and it would be cancelled. I agreed that we should pray to cancel it but that we should not be emotional about it.
But lo and behold the way it was cancelled is why I am standing before you. There are certain things we don’t want to happen, but God has a way of having His way. I believe it is the will of God that is being done by my election when it happened. The reason I can’t be moved by what people do is because I know that it is God who put me as the president of CAN. I also stand in the confidence that I will not deliberately do anything wrong. Unfortunately the attack I have been getting is from quarters I never expected. CAN would have been able to make more progress but for some forces of unrighteousness that have been holding the body by the jugular.
Some of our attackers taught CAN is a place for business. They are politicians in cassock. They are not of God they don’t care about the future and the welfare of the church. Their bellies are their gods. Our prayer is that they will repent. I came from a church background that is accountable. Every year the Baptist people will wait for financial book of report of what happened day by day. They also wait for the audited report of financial accountability. I came from a church where we don’t allow anybody to be president and founder. It is a church that is built around a system which can operate on its own.
As the Chief Executive officer of Nigerian Baptist convention I do not have executive power. No decision taken is decision yet until all of us meet together (over 15000 churches meet). All the meetings held must be reported and put together in a book and brought to the convention in session. That is the background I came from and that is what I thought should operate when I came on board as the CAN president. But some people felt threatened by this. Some felt they will be exposed. So they come to meeting to disrupt sessions. But they will not prevail. If they had prevailed I will not be standing today.
A lot of false allegations are being written against me. Somebody wrote a 14-page allegation against me but he did not show up when a panel began to look at the issues he raised. I made myself available for cross examination but the petitioner was nowhere to be found. His agents continue to go to the public to feed the public with misinformation. I think somebody who has credible allegations will be bold to defend them.
I have not been joining issues with these people because they have a diversionary tactic. I do not hate them I pray for them. CAN is not a political organization. If spirit led churches form association it will be spirit led. How can churches that are filled with the spirit of Christ give birth to political organisation. We are not of the world. Our strategies are totally different because the spirit is superior to the flesh.
CAN can’t be corrupted
Any government knows that CAN will never sell its integrity for a morsel of bread. When I took over the wall around the ecumenical centre in Abuja had fallen off and there was no money in the coffers. We needed around N23M to put the wall back. Salvation Ministry of Pastor Ibiyeomiye gave us N10m, Redeemed Christian Church of God gave us N8m and the Baptist Convention gave us N10m. We used N23m to put the wall back and put the remaining in the coffers of CAN.
There was a land allocated to us more than 25 years ago at Abuja City Gate. They call it convention ground. The allocation was done when Pope came to Nigeria. One side of the land was given to the Muslims and the other given to Christians. The Muslims developed their own to become haji camp and that of the Christian was not developed. After sometime the Muslims encroached on the land of belonging to us. They began building a property there. Somebody gave me a hint on this and I moved into action immediately. We wrote to government and we have been assured that action will be done.
But we got to a stage that the FCT made us to know that we could not recover the land again that it had been re-allocated. But they have decided to allocate another place to us which will be prime and larger than the first one. By the grace of God the minister of the FCT should by now as I speak sign the land for another portion.
I was not the president when it was allocated. But because of our carelessness we lost what belonged to us. For the first time in the history of the association we were able to raise election monitors to monitor the last election. We trained monitors to follow election standard all over the world. There was no money to do that but Dr. William Okoye and I contacted our friends. Initially we raised N11m for mobilization in the country. The registration of election voters soared especially in the south. We passed through the six zones in Nigeria to create awareness and we liaised with INEC on where to put registration centre. In fact we advocated that centres should be close to churches so that people can register when they go to church. We printed election-observer manuals. We raised money for that. We thank Bishop David Oyedepo whose ministry gave us N12million for that purpose. Eventually, we were able to get 1048 election observers accredited by the INEC. Our reports are almost ready and we are still doing a final touch on it.
I am serving voluntarily. All my travels are not paid by CAN. There are many who claim to be representing CAN. Let me say they are not representing us. They can have sweet mouth and have name. They are not representing us. There is difference between speaking truth and speaking politics. We will make public what concerns the government as reported by our observers during the past election in the Newspapers for the government to take action.
In terms of persecution of Christians. The perceived deliberate action of the government to put the church at the receiving end is unfortunate. What I have learnt is that when our people get to government they see themselves first as politicians before seeing themselves as Christians. They don’t have the boldness to be in government like Esther for a specific purpose and neither do they want to be like Modecai to fight for their people so that they will not be exterminated. When they get to government they begin to rationalize and defend what is not defensible.
CAN president on Christian persecution
They begin to see those of us who are fighting for fairness in the scheme of things as enemies. This is part of what is going on even up till today. Those of you who have followed my activities will know that I have been against the membership of Nigeria of OIC. I went to see President Buhari over it and he told me Nigeria’s membership could be challenged. The Christian lawyers who are to provide the briefs have been foot dragging. They tell me they are still gathering data. I can’t go to the court on my own because I am not a lawyer. In the North churches can’t get Certificate of Occupancy. When we speak to our people they tell us it is for the state government to act. The problem is that our people in government place political advantages above the spiritual. Christians are not able to defend the faith because they will like to please their principal and retain their job. Our people are more political than the politicians and we know that politics can blind fold.
The persecution from fellow Christians have been relentless. Some even go ahead to say I am a jihadist. What informed this allegation? A church broke into two in my area in Ibadan. They hold their services in the same premises. Every Sunday they would end up with the police because they were always having fracas. As responsible church leaders we had to close down the church until they were able to settle their differences. That is what made some of them go to the media to call me a jihadist.
I want to urge you, money is not everything. Your conscience is above any money people can dangle before you. We have few years to spend here on earth. We shall give account of our sojourn here on it. Have you not seen the son of kings becoming beggars? Many of us were not born with silver spoon. We were born in villages and never thought we would be where we are today. Please be bold enough to say no to any misleading publication. People wrote blackmail against me and sent it to the other faith. The people had to call me and said to me: why do your people behave like this?
These people who are causing division in the CAN have been ex-communicated by their own churches. One was infact sent packing by his father’s church. Were they in hibernation before now? Why is it that they are making trouble now? The CAN election for another term is about to take place and they have been saying all kinds of things but I have resolved not to join issues with them. I want you to do journalism with honesty. I believe we can jointly deliver this nation.
I was in Washington DC to present our position on the state of persecution of the church in Nigeria. If somebody says we are not being persecuted why will the government allow a negotiation that will free other Muslim girls and keep the only Christian girl in the group with the Boko Haram abductors. If Boko Haram is not out to exterminate Christians why did Shekau say he will ensure that Sharia is implemented through the country.
We have always asked our Muslim brothers to address those that are giving Islam a bad name. Why can’t Islamic nations all over the world condemn these extremists? Somebody told me a governor appointed Permanent Secretaries a day before his last day in office and all of them are Muslims. Are there no Christians in senior capacity that can become PS in that state? Our Christian counterpoint can’t do that they will be passing the buck.
Read also: Miraculous escape: How God saved CAN president, others from insurgents’ attackhttps://www.churchtimesnigeria.net/can-insurgents-attack/
Concerning the issues of the Fulanis, if the Fulanis love President Buhari they should not be causing problem for him. The Fulani tribe should be most behaved in the world because they have their people in leadership. I have tried to look at the issues dispassionately but it still comes back to the issue of Fulani. If you say its herdsmen that have been terrorizing people, the question is: how many other tribe keep cows in Nigeria? I would have loved to use the word herdsmen for them but the truth is that herdsmen are predominantly Fulani. There are many good Fulani herdsmen but they should come out and condemn those who are giving them a bad name. Thank God the Fulani radio is for nomadic education and not for the Fulani tribe as the NBC said earlier. But they first came out to say its Fulani radio and that is what has informed the comments of people. Christians are saying if we are going to live together there must be fairness, mutual respect and justice irrespective of religion or ethnic barrier.
The President should see to the evaporation of any form of nepotism. Christians have the right to live their lives and Muslims have the right too. Northern governors have no right to deny the Christians in the North C of O. I have said before that government should respect the court of law. If a government does not respect law that government is corrupt. Let them mop up all ammunition in private hands. The bandits; are they spirit? Why can’t they be traced to where they are? What are the people in charge of immigration doing? If foreigners are entering our country what are the law enforcement agents doing?
Why should the police remain at barely over 300,000 for a population of 200million people? Why can’t we have state police? These are the things we are talking about. Certain things we ought to do should be handled objectively if the nation will move forward. By the grace of God we will not let the nation down. We must speak reality. There must be justice. Everybody deserves respect. There must be fairness. People must be able to get appointment on merit. If our togetherness will not address that then to your tent oh Israel.