The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, has returned to the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, after five years of walking out of the national Christian umbrella body in the country over some irreconcilable differences with the leadership at the time.
The return was reportedly perfected on Thursday and Friday in Abuja when a delegation of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, led by Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Cornelius Omonokhua, appeared at the expanded National Executive Committee and quarterly meeting of CAN for the amendment of its constitution.
Newsworth recalls that the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria had, in a September 24, 2012 letter signed by its President, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama and addressed to then CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, announced its withdrawal from the organisation due to alleged misunderstanding that was later described as “political”.
But last year, Kaigama led a delegation from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, to the CAN National secretariat where, in a meeting with the CAN President, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle and his team, they addressed the identified grey areas and fashioned out wways of addressing them. Sequel to that, Kaigama disclosed the readiness of the Catholics to work with the new CAN leadership.
Last Thursday and Friday’s expanded National Executive Committee meeting for the amendment of the constitution of CAN and the quarterly meeting of the Association was attended by a CSN delegation led by Rev Fr. Prof. Cornelius Omonokhua, who represented Most Rev Kaigama
The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria delegation participated fully in all the discourse while the two-day meeting lasted. The President of CAN, Dr. Samson Ayokunle could not hide his joy on the new development when he was reacting to their return.
Ayokunle, according to a statement issued on Sunday by his Special Assistant (Media & Communications), Adebayo Oladeji, said, “Their return is one of the best things that have been happening since I was given the mandate to become the President of CAN.
“One of my visions for CAN is to bring our Catholic brothers and sisters back to the fold; and I must acknowledge the support and understanding of my brother in Christ, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria and his team.
“I give kudos to all the principal officers, the directors and some Christian leaders in the country for their support and understanding while the dialogue lasted.
“My joy knows no bound with the presence of the CSN at the constitution amendment meeting of CAN held on Thursday and at the NEC meeting on Friday.
“It is our prayers that the Body of Christ in the country will remain one forever in Jesus’ name.
“At a time like this when Christians are almost becoming endangered species in Nigeria, when churches are being denied the Certificate of Occupancy especially in the core North, when Christians are being denied key public offices and when the Church is expected to speak for the voiceless, especially over the economic and social hardship in our country, we cannot afford to be at war with one another.
“CAN is united in diversity. Jesus Christ prayed for the Church shortly before He returned to heaven in John chapter 17.”
Speaking in the same vein, the CAN Chairman, North-Central, Rev Dr Israel Akanji, who was among those who played prominent roles in the matter, said the return of the Catholics to the Association is a sign of good omen to the Body of Christ in Nigeria.
“We are all happy with this new development, now the Body of Christ in Nigeria is one, virile and strong. We can now speak with one voice. With their return, CAN is even now stronger and greater. We have learnt one lesson or two from the challenges that led to their withdraw. Never again will any of the blocks withdraw its membership,” he said.
The Director of Legal issues, Barrister Samuel Kwanku disclosed that the association is working on the new Constitution to ensure that “CAN has an effective internal mechanism to address any misunderstanding among its members. We are all happy with the return of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN). Our strength lies in our unity.”
CAN was formed in 1976 by five Christian blocs in the country: the Christian Council of Nigeria, CCN; the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria/Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN/CPFN; Organisation of African Instituted Churches, OAIC, Tarayar Ekklesiyoyin Kristi a Nigeria or The Fellowship of the Churches of Christ in Nigeria, TEKAN/ Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA.