By SAM EYOBOKA
ABUJA — NATIONAL President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, for the first time, publicly dismissed criticisms that continued to trail his acquisition of a private jet with some critics claiming that the gift may have come from the Presidency.
The founder/senior pastor of Word of Life Bible Church, Warri emphatically declared that President Goodluck Jonathan did not contribute a dime for the jet.
Receiving a delegation of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Delta State chapter in his Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, last Sunday, Pastor Oritsejafor said the private jet was presented to him on November 10, 2012, by church members within and outside the country in commemoration of his 40th year on the pulpit.
He maintained that over 90 per cent of the funds came from members of the church while the rest was donated by his spiritual children across the globe.
The NLC delegation was in the church for a thanksgiving service in preparation for Workers’ Day which held nationwide on Wednesday.
Speaking during that service, Pastor Oritsejafor, arguably one of the greatest philanthropists in the country and perhaps the first CAN president to spend his personal resources to run the CAN secretariat, maintained that concerned members of his congregation and some of his children decided to donate the jet in appreciation of the suffering he underwent whenever he travelled in and out of Nigeria preaching the gospel.
“Word of Life members miss me, my family misses me greatly and appreciating the trauma of connecting flights across the globe; they decided to constitute a committee to raise funds for the purchase of the jet. They reached out to some of my children in and out of the country who generously donated to the course,” he explained.
Oritsejafor challenged the Labour leaders to endeavour to do their investigations and if possible use their connections in government to ask President Jonathan if he contributed any kobo to the purchase of the jet, noting “why will people just set out to disparage persons without verifying their facts.”
The cleric said given the nature of his work, a plane had become a necessity, wondering why people were deliberately silent on his annual empowerment programmes in the Niger Delta and his numerous reach-out projects to victims of Boko Haram violence in the North, but decided to malign his person.
“My records are there at the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, which I led for eight years for anybody to verify just as people are free to come to the CAN Secretariat to make their independent investigat-ions,” he stated, adding “I pay for all my bills as CAN president,” he stated.
He also defended his call for the arrest of CPC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) whose comments during the 2011 electioneering campaigns are believed to have precipitated the post-election violence that followed the announcement of results of the election.
The CAN president had come under tremendous criticism over the plane with Catholic Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah describing him as an embarrassment to Christianity while former Congress for Progressive Change, CPC vice presidential candidate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, said clergymen like him, taking advantage of their congregations, and buying private jets, deserved to go to jail.
The CPC spokesman, Rotimi Fashakin recently said that President Goodluck Jonathan on November 10, 2012, rewarded the CAN helmsman with the gift of a Bombardier Private jet.