By Soni Daniel
ABUJA — The call by the northern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria for the resignation of President Goodluck Jonathan over his decision not to use force against Boko Haram, has sparked simmering crisis, which may lead to the split of the association, Vanguard investigation has revealed.
Already, indications emerged, yesterday, that following pressures from top government officials in Abuja, prominent members of CAN have distanced themselves from the call on Jonathan to quit over his soft stance on the Islamic sect’s insurgency in parts of the north.
Findings by Vanguard revealed that there were pressures ‘from above’ on the leadership of the northern CAN to recant the statement or face the wrath of the government.
CAN leadership and members benefit from the annual pilgrimage sponsored by the Federal and state governments to Jerusalem, a responsibility many Nigerians believe should be borne by individual pilgrims.
In a subtle move to appease the government, CAN leadership quickly disowned the statement issued on Monday by the Public Relations Officer of the body, Mr. Sunday Oibe.
At a press conference in Kaduna, the Secretary of the northern CAN, Prof Daniel Babayi, denied that the association ever authorised the PRO to issue the ‘offensive’ statement asking Mr. President to stand down over his soft stance on Boko Haram.
Babayi alleged that the statement was scripted by elements who wanted to cause disaffection and divide CAN.
He said: “Somebody somewhere is planning to divide CAN.”
But a source close to Oibe told Vanguard, yesterday, that the PRO would not deny his statement, saying that he did so as part of his mandate to CAN.
The source said: “We realise that the leadership of the northern CAN is being pressurised by some powerful persons in the Presidency to change the statement, which they authorised for issuance last Monday.
“What this means is that the northern CAN, which was not very strong in the first place, will simply die a natural death because of vested interests.
“It is surprising that people can easily abdicate their Christian values and tell lies all in a desperate bid to satisfy certain well-placed individuals in the corridors of power,” the source lamented.
The northern Can in the statement released to journalists by Oibe on Monday, had asked President Goodluck Jonathan to resign for failing to use force to deal decisively with Boko Haram.
Part of the statement read: “Jonathan has failed Christians and he should resign as president because by his statement, it is very clear that he is not capable of handling the danger posed by the Boko Haram insurgency.
“We therefore call on the international community to come to the aid of northern Christians because it appears that the Nigerian government has made Christians the sacrificial lamb for Boko Haram,” Oibe said.
Although Oibe has refused to join issues with the CAN scribe, sources close to him said last night that he would respond to the development at the appropriate time but did not give further explanation as to what line of action he would take.