By Sam Eyoboka & Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€” NATIONAL President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor has defeated the incumbent President of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Most Rev. John Onaiyekan, at the National Executive Committee, NEC, elections.
With this acceptance, Oritsejafor thus becomes the first Pentecostal president in the 34-year history of the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, CAN.
Hitherto, CAN presidency had rotated between the Catholic Church which had produced three presidents, the Anglican Communion, one, and the Methodist Church Nigeria, one.
Oritsejafor posted 66 votes out of the 105-member NEC to defeat Onaiyekan who garnered only 38 votes. Oritsejafor had earlier won the shadow elections at the Electoral College level by polling eight votes to the outgoing president, Most Rev. Onaiyekanâ€™s four and his vice president, Most Rev. Daniel Okoh who bagged three votes.
The PFN helmsman will now be recommended to the National Assembly of CAN which meets today at the same venue to ratify him as the next National President of the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria.
Reports from the Ecumenical Centre, Abuja, said the expected ratification will just be formality as the outgoing National President, Most Rev. Onaiyekan had accepted the outcome of the elections and openly congratulated his PFN counterpart, Pastor Oritsejafor.
The new CAN chairman is expected to be presented to President Goodluck Jonathan by the outgoing CAN leadership.
Vanguard gathered that the outgoing CAN National President who would have been nominated to become the Vice President in the incoming dispensation, also declined to serve in that capacity. As a result, the outgoing Vice President, Most Rev. Daniel Okoh was proposed to take his place as the CAN new vice president in the next three years.
Confederating church groups
According to the CAN Constitution, the National Assembly which is the highest policy making organ of the Association comprises 50 members each from the five confederating church groups, one representative from each of the state branches of CAN and the Federal Capital, 10 national officers of the Association, two members each from both the Youth and Women wings and past presidents and general secretaries.
Membership of the CAN National Assembly is made up of 301 members, excluding the number of past presidents and general secretaries, and they would be required by the constitution to ratify Oritsejafor as President of the Association for the next three years.
CAN constitution states that in the event that any candidate was opposed by majority of the National Assembly, the Electoral College would reconsider the suitability or otherwise of the candidate, based on the reasons adduced by those who opposed.
It states: â€œThe college may return the candidate or choose another for ratification, but the college may not be compelled to substitute the defeated candidate for a position.”
In his reaction last night, Pastor Oritsejafor attributed the victory to God, noting that He would also give him the needed enablement to accomplish the desires of Christians in the country.
He said: â€œI feel humbled because on my own, humanly speaking, I donâ€™t think that I have the capability to assume the office but I serve a God that is alive and He will give the necessary enablement to help the yearnings of every Christian in the country.â€