IRONICALLY, these ‘christians’ find solace in the various worship centres and invest a large chunk of their ill-gotten wealth in church activities and programmes!
This has been the moral burden for CAN, as the body has not been known to speak loud and clear against corruption and corrupt office holders.
Besides, there is the accusation of materialism within the ranks of CAN officials. In the 1980s, about ten million naira was allegedly released to the national body of CAN, to build its ecumenical centre by the Babangida administration but which could not be properly accounted for.
Some CAN leaders were accused of surreptitiously collecting money from political aspirants with a promise to influence their followers to give such aspirants votes.
Following the series of criticism trailing the activities of CAN, the Catholic Church, through the President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama had communicated to CAN President, Ayo Oritsejafor, saying his group was suspending “participation in CAN meetings at the national level until such a time the leadership of CAN reverse back to the original vision, mission and objectives of CAN”.
The Catholic bishops had argued that CAN had been politicised and was no longer being used to promote peace and unity in the country.
“CAN is being dragged into partisan politics thereby compromising the ability to play its true role as conscience of the nation and the voice of the voiceless”, the bishops said.
At one time or the other, notable Nigerians – who are not even Christians – including a former minister of Petroleum and former education minister, ex-Senator Jubril Aminu had called for the banning of CAN.
Similarly, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory and now chieftain of the Congress for Progressive Change, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has mocked CAN, calling it a branch of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as he also flayed its president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor for accepting the gift of a private jet, which the congregation of Word of Faith Bible Church, of which he is Senior Pastor, allegedly gave him.
Even, the controversial governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has equally called for the ban of CAN.
In the same vein, the Senior Pastor, Latter Rain Christian Assembly and Convener of Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Pastor Tunde Bakare, has equally criticised religious leaders in the country for alleged corruption.
Bakare alleged that religious leaders had contributed immensely to the level of corrupt practices in the country, when he insisted that it is irresponsible and sinful for religious leaders to amass wealth while majority of members of their churches cannot afford three square meals a day.
He had asked people to query such religious leaders on the sources of their movable and immovable assets that run into billions of naira: “If the money is not from members in the church, definitely, it’s from the presidency”, he alleged.
On the continued relevance of CAN, it is instructive to note that there are two competing voices in CAN: the ‘voice’ of political unity and the ‘voice’ of Christian unity.
To any discerning mind, what pervades the nation now is the fact that the voice of political unity is undoubtedly louder, clearer and overwhelming at the expense of real Christian unity.
Therefore, genuine Christian unity may be hard to come by as long as the quest for power and materialism continue to be the main preoccupation of the leaders of CAN, instead of its original objectives.
For CAN to meet the expectations of Nigerian Christians that are more concerned about unity than political affiliation, more efforts should be geared towards reawakening the various interests on the need to have a common sense of purpose in line with biblical teachings. More than ever before, the nation needs the contributions of CAN in its trying times.
CAN should be formidable and a powerful body to make positive change in the nation going by the number of political leaders and followers that could have been influenced by the sterling qualities of Christ – the epitome of true and ideal Christian virtues. The body should be fearless, firm and always stand by the truth, irrespective of whose ox is gored.
Rather than continue to swim in the present filthy ocean, the leadership of CAN should painstakingly identify what the different denominations have in common, work in harmony and explore the various scriptural texts that encourage Christian unity to its advantage.
Such efforts should be geared towards entrenching mutual respect for the member churches of the association. This should be the priority of CAN.
On a final note, government should stop interfering with the activities of the association – after all, we are meant to be a secular nation – it should allow CAN to carry out its statutory functions for the good of Christians and most especially, the sacred role of being the moral conscience of the nation.
Mr. ADEWALE KUPOLUYI, wrote from Federal Varsity of Agric., abeokuta, Ogun State.