By Sam Eyoboka
FOUR days after he doled out N50,000 each to 30 physically challenged members of the society, National President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor gave out N50,000 each to 40 brethren out of the 1,147 delegates from different parts of the country including the persecuted Christians of northern Nigeria.
Addressing the mammoth crowd of worshippers which included the deputy governor of Nasarawa State, Hon. Luka Barau Dameshi, PDP governorship aspirant, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege, three chiefs representing the Esama of Benin, Prof. Joseph Otubu among others at the closing service of the 27th annual convention tagged Jubilee Word Festival, Oritsejafor said he decided to bring the brethren from the North for the one week programme to breathe a fresh breath.
According to him, it is his desire to reach out to all of them, most of whom have suffered one setback or the other at the hands of the Islamic insurgents, saying that in Mubi alone 99 churches were burnt or destroyed by the Boko Haram invaders. Handing out the cheques, the CAN president appealed to the rest of the pack to bear with him, noting that he would love to give everybody but the resources are not just there.
He used the occasion to appeal to other well endowed Nigerians to spare a thought for suffering of Christians in the North, saying “as I speak many Christians are still killed while those who can escape wander into deserts, trekking long distances, sometimes for days just to find fresh air.
“In the process, many them loose their wives, husbands, children and businesses,” he stated, noting that the trauma Christians in the North through is better imagined, pointing to one pastor ran from Mubi and entered Cameroon and then on to some other Nigerian towns before making it into Warri with just one dress.
As of in recognition of his outspokenness and assistance to the Northern Church, the northern delegates decorated Pastor Oritsejafor and his wife, Helen with the unique and symbolic black and white cultural attire known as A’nger U Tiv complete with a black and white beads, a leather hunters’ bag and a long spear.
General Overseer of Resurrection Word Ministries, Yola, Bishop Luke Angula and his wife, Lois coordinated the Tiv Unity Garden of Praise (aka) Praise Him Daily who mesmerized participants each day with Amar a Lugh (slow motion dance). The dance features essentially the local flute, drums and the talking drums with several of the drummers carrying one talking drum and strapping another on their left legs.
After decorating the first couple of the Word of Life Bible Church, Warri, Bishop Angula explained the significance of the exercise, saying it is the highest honour given to a dependable warrior in his place.
According to him, the spear or iron staff is a symbol of authority in Tiv land. “It is our way of saying that the whole North is behind you. In our land this is the highest honour.”
And they did a few steps of the Swange dance and it was colourful. In Tiv tradition, three-prong iron staffs called A’nger and a brownish leather bag called Kpaabor are used to honour individuals, who had contributed to a worthy cause.
Responding, Pastor Oritsejafor said: “Nigeria must be a level playing ground for everybody. Whether you are from the North or from the South, wherever you come from. A man should not be judged by his tribe, should not be judged by his religion. A man or woman must be judged by the content of his character. It is who you are not what name you are called. Not where you come from. Nigeria is a great nation but the greatness is within the people and the people must treat each other equally. We must live as equals. We must live as one. We must love ourselves.