Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has urged religious leaders to stand for truth, justice and equity and push politicians to do the right thing.
Obasanjo gave the advice when the new President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence, Rev. Daniel Okoh paid him a courtesy visit at his residence in Abeokuta.
In a statement made available on Thursday in Abuja by Mr Luminous Jannamike, Special Assistant on Media to the CAN President, Obasanjo said Christian and Muslim leaders must work together to watch over the country.
He particularly urged the CAN President to work closely with the Sultan of Sokoto, adding that ”you can both make a turn-around, you can work together”.
“If you stand on the truth, you stand for justice and equity, it is then the politicians will not be able to mess us around.
”I will say it with all sense of responsibility now, if we do not watch it, the politicians will wreck this country and we’ll all regret it, and where can we look for salvation?
“That is where you religious leaders have a significant role to play,” he added.
According to him, it is a mistake to say politics is not for the righteous.
“If we take the righteous away from politics and we leave politics to the unrighteous, the unrighteous will smear the righteous with the unrighteousness that they will carry into politics and we will have no where to go.
“In the next election, if we do not watch it, it may make or break Nigeria.
And I pray that it will make Nigeria,” Obasanjo admonished.
He further said having both Sultan of Sokoto and the CAN leader on same page may make politicians to understand and listen.
”If our politicians don’t listen, may be our people will listen,” Obasanjo added.
Okoh had earlier commended the former President for his contributions to Christianity in Nigeria, including the establishment of CAN in 1976 and the Inter Religious Council in 1999. “In the political sector, you set up the National Political Reform Conference which I am privileged to be a delegate, representing the Christian faith,” he said.
He also commended Obasanjo for various peace interventions across Africa.
Okoh assured that the Inter Religious Council meeting held in Lagos recently agreed not to leave the political space to politicians alone.
He said that the religious leaders would get involved in politics, but not in a partisan way.
The CAN president said that they would continue to give leadership to make sure that the values of religion permeated the political space, help Nigerians to live in peace and work for the unity of the nation.
Okoh was accompanied by CAN Assistant General Secretary, Apostle Abiodun Sanyaolu, South West Chairman, Elder Adeaga, and Lagos and Ogun States CAN Chairmen, among others.
Sanwo-Olu charges religious, traditional leaders on peace, justice L-R: Emeritus, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence; Etsu of Nupe, Alh. Yahaya Abubakar; President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and co-chairman of NIREC, Most Rev. Daniel Okoh; Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Sultan of Sokoto and co-chairman of NIREC, His Eminence Muhammad Abubakar; representative of the SGF, the Permanent Secretary, Office of SGF (General Duties), Dr. Nnamdi Maurice Mbaeri; Shehu of Borno, Alh. Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi; Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero and Chairman, CAN Lagos state chapter, Bishop Stephen Adegbite during the third quarter meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) with the theme “working together for Justice and Peace”, at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu (left) exchanging greetings with the SultanGov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Monday charged religious and traditional leaders to work together for unity, peace, justice in Nigeria.
Sanwo-Olu gave the charge during the third quarter meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religion Council (NIREC), with the theme: ”Working Together for Justice and Peace”, held at Victoria Island.
He said that promoting unity, peace, justice and tranquility in Nigeria would bring about a peaceful co-existence among the people.
”I believe with the case of NIREC that we have today and that we have seen consistently, this country will not be put to shame.
”I am hoping that the conversations, discussions and decisions at the NIREC meeting will further strengthen that thing that we all swore to; to ensure justice, peace and equity in this country.
”We are at a time this country needs all of us now more than ever before and so, we should not allow hate speech.
”We cannot afford ethnic bigotry.
We cannot afford to be divided.
We are going into elections; let us see the commitment and nationality in all of us,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He said that as a political leader, the only way not to fail the people was by ensuring good governance.
Speaking on the ongoing Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike and the union face-off with the Federal Government, Sanwo-Olu said that though none of the Lagos State-owned three universities were on strike, it was painful that students in other universities had been at home for seven months.
He appealed that ASUU should call off the strike and get the students back to school, as the academic union and the Federal Government should quickly resolve the lingering issue, in order not to compromise the future of the students.
Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said that the meeting was a call to national duty, to take an active part in renewing troubled communities.
Mustapha, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Dr Maurice Mbaeri, charged people, especially religious leaders to work for justice, peace.
He urged all to ensure fair play, so as to create the needed change for Nigerians to always live in unity and harmony.
”I want to charge everyone of us to work for peace that will endure and outlast us, by creating functional structure for generations unborn.
”This structure must have the capacity to be proactive in responding to emerging issues, while reinforcing a longer and larger change processes.
We cannot fold our hands when we see problems emerging,” the SGF said.
The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Mohammed Abubakara, said that the role of religious leaders was to be just and fair to earn the trust of the people.
Abubakara, who is co-Chairman of NIREC, urged Muslims and Christians to come together to pursue peace and justice as they were inseparable.
He pleaded with ASUU to call off the ongoing strike, urging the Federal Government and academic union to find a common ground to resolve the conflict.
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Daniel Okoh, urged citizens to embrace peace, desist from hateful utterances, live in peaceful coexistence with one another.
Okoh, the co-chairman of NIREC, called on Nigerians to be accountable, elect leaders with capacities during the 2023 general elections and abhor tribal sentiments, among others vices.
In his speech, the Executive Secretary of NIREC, Mr Cornelius Omonokhua, said that the meeting was aimed at changing existing narratives to allow justice and peace to reign in Nigeria.
Omonokhua said that there was a need for mental re-engineering, change of values and attitudes, as well as radical emancipation to address the root of various calamities of national concerns.
Also speaking, the Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, called on religious leaders to continue to preach peace and unity to bring about development in the country.
The Prelate Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Samuel Kanu-Uche, has urged Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic, and religious affiliations to work together in peace and unity for the progress of the country.
The Prelate gave the advice at the church’s 48th and 13th biennial conference, with theme “Prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ’’ being hosted by the arch diocese of Benue in Abuja.
He said the challenges facing the country could even be better solved if Nigerians, Muslims and Christians, pray and work together, adding that people of all faiths need to work for the sake of humanity.
“We need to work together for unity and peace of the country.
“We are to understand one another with love and respect, as our various religions teaches love and peace.
“We have serious security issues confronting us, we cannot be trading blames; we have a lot to do to curb this.
“What Nigeria is experiencing are signs of what has been recorded in the Bible for the second coming, we should be vigilant and ready, pray and be alert,’’ the prelate said.
He urged government to ensure fairness equity, justice and rule of law in the nation “ Let there be peace, unity tolerance and let there not be dominance by any tribe or religion, because if there is, there will be resistance and there will be reactions, resulting to problems,’’ Kanu-Uche said.
For the forthcoming elections, the Prelate advised Nigerians to vote for integrity and not party, stressing “doing this will protect our future and that of the children and those yet unborn.
’’ He said that the conference was his last as his successor would be elected before his exit in November and thanked God for sustenance all through his tenure.
Deputy Gov of Benue, Benson Abounu,the Methodist Prelate,Kanu-Uche and his wife.
In his address at the occasion, Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue, prayed for unity and peace in Nigeria.
The governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Benson Abounu, declared the conference open and urged the clergy and laity to pray for a return of peace in the country.
He said that there was need for leaders to be sensitive to things that worry the masses.
”Show sensitivity as far as our ethnic and tribal leanings are concerned, sensitivity as far as our religions and interest are concerned.
“Also, as far as our social engagements are concerned and our social cultural issues and interest are to be taken into consideration.
“No religion should have dominion over another; no ethnic group should have dominion over others.
” No social class should have dominion over the other as Nigeria belongs to everyone.
“Any choice anyone is making, he or she should put into consideration the aforementioned,’’ Kanu-Uche said.
He advised the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to fashion out a new leadership structure where all Christians could come together as one in order for Christians to have one voice.
Also, the President of CAN, Rev Daniel Okoh, represented by Apostle Abiodun Sanyaolu, Assistant Secretary General of the Christian Council of Nigeria, commended the prelate for his support to the church and association.
He advised the church to be prayerful and steadfast as the siege was on, adding that the church needs to march forth.
The CAN president said that only prayers and commitment were the solution to challenges being faced in the country.
In his address, the former Senate President, David Mark, advised Nigerians and the church to continue to pray for peace in the country.
“These conference will preach peace to Nigeria and ensure there is peace, I am sure all religion preaches peace and none preaches violence.
”As Christians and Moslems, we are the two major faiths and we need to do what pleases God and would develop our nation,’’ he said.
Most Rev Joseph Job, the Methodist Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, urged Christians to prepare their minds on issues bordering the nation, through prayers He advised that as the general elections draws near, it was the duty of all Nigerians to first create an enabling environment to enable the elections, which would be achieved through prayers.
Also the Archbishop, Archdiocese of Benue, Most Rev. Oliver Aba, said the conference was aimed at discussing the growth of the church and the nation.
“ We pray for Nigeria, the church we must work as a team to achieve these, as our generations yet unborn will ask what we did to salvage the country from collapsing.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Archbishops of Methodist Churches in some West African countries including Ghana, Togo and Mali were in attendance at the conference to felicitate with the church and
Delta governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday congratulated Most Rev. Daniel Okoh on his election as president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
CAN formally validated the election of Okoh as its new president after polling 100 per cent of votes casted by the 259 delegates at its 12th General Assembly.
The Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) vice-presidential candidate also commended the Christian community for the peaceful conduct of the convention, saying that it reflected the promotion of peace and unity which it preached.
He charged Okoh to mobilise citizens to collectively pray for the country; champion the crusade of religious tolerance and build bridges in that regard.
“On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I congratulate Most Rev. Okoh on his election as CAN’s president.
“We are pleased with your peaceful emergence as the number one leader of Christians in Nigeria.
“The task ahead is onerous and it is our prayer that in your new position, God uses you to counsel and move the entire Christendom in Nigeria in the direction that you have been ordained to lead.
“I must also appreciate the role of the Church in promoting peaceful co-existence, education and social welfare in our state and country,’’ he said in statement issued by his media aide, Olisa Ifeajika.
The governor also commended the outgoing president of the association, Dr Samson Ayokunle, for successfully piloting the affairs of CAN during his tenure.
“As Deltans, we remain extremely proud of your illustrious contributions to the growth of the Christian faith in Nigeria,’’ Okowa added.
Rev. Daniel Okoh, the new President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on Nigerians to contribute to the task of nation building, being one of the cardinal missions of CAN.
He made the call during the final progrmamme to mark the leadership transition of CAN on Friday in Abuja.
According to him, the masses need to contribute their quota in transforming the church, the society and the nation better than they meet them so that we can have better society where no man is oppressed.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has urged Nigerians to work together in peace and unity for humanity as well as show respect to their individual religions bearing in mind that all are the creations of God. Abubakar, made the call during a valedictory and welcome dinner organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN ) for its 12th General Assembly and leadership transition.
The event which held on Thursday in Abuja marked the end of the five-year single tenure of CAN president, Rev. Samson Ayokunle and the beginning of the tenure of Rev. Daniel Okoh. “As individuals we need to add value into ourselves and we should know that we did not create ourselves.
” God created us and when God was creating us he did not ask us where do you want me to bring you into the world,we just found ourselves in some various places,” he said.
This, he said, is the reason all faiths need to work for the sake of humanity.
He said the challenges facing the country could even be better solved if Nigerians, Muslims and Christians pray and work together.
“We need to work together for unit and peace of the country.
” we are to understand one another with love and respect, as our various religions teaches love and peace.
“We have serious security confronting us,we can be trading blames,we have a lot to do to curb this.
” As Christians and Moslems we are the two major faiths and we need to do wat pleases God and would develop our nation.
He advised that as the general elections draws near, it was the duty of all Nigerians to first create an enabling environment to enable the elections.
He pledged the council’s full support for CAN and prayed God to give them the enablement to lead right.
Also speaking, the Prelate Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence Samuel Kanu-Uche in his message with theme:”Reflecting in Christianity and Nigeria”, prayed for peace and unity.
He was represented by Bishop Michael Akinwale ,Secretary of Conference Methodist Church ,Nigeria.
He outlined eight points the government must consciously and international gird their loins to achieve.
Kanu-Uche said government must affect the grassroot positively by impactful governance.
He said which would execute the needs of the people.
The prelate said all leaders must ensure godliness in policy making and execution.
” Provision of basic amenities for the populace effective management of the country’s commonwealth and provision of employment for the youth and provision of quality and accessible education were not left out”.
” Emplacement of equity and justice in governance and prevention of marginalisation of any group of persons based on language creed or sex”.
The prelate also added that Restoration of the dignity of the individual citizen, was Paramount for national development.
In his remarks, Sen. Bola Ahmed- Tinubu,APC Presidential flag bearer for the 2023 general elections advised CAN to remain apolitical,focused and determined to move the nation forward.
Tinubu who was represented by Sen. Michael Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), urged CAN to promote peace and unity for a better Nigeria.
He added that the mutual relation between Christians and Muslims should be further to greater height for the development of the nation.
Tinubu said to curb Insecurity in Nigeria all hands must be on deck to achieve that.
“Insecurity goes beyond tribe and religion, everyone needs to be security conscious”,he said.
He congratulated both the outing and incoming presidents of CAN,as he prayed for a mural relationship to keep the body stronger.
In their speeches Ayodele, outgoing CAN president and Okoh incoming CAN president in their respective speeches promised to work together for a stronger religious force to be build which would attract unity and peace in the nation.
They acknowledged the importance of the roles of both a successor and a predecessor for an organisation to move forward.
Ayodele thanked all participants for their various contributions tat lead right his successful tenure.
While Okoh pleaded for support and prayers to enable him have a successful tenure.
A political group, Tinubu Youth Disciples (TYD) has commended the emergence of Most Rev. Daniel Okoh as the new President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The National Coordinator of TYD, Prince Koyoyo Uhrorho, said this in a congratulatory message issued and addressed to the new CAN President on Thursday in Abuja.
“We the Tinubu Youth Disciples are delighted to hear the news of your emergence as the new chairman of the highest Christian body in Nigeria, the Christian Association of Nigeria.
“We are confident of your capability to steer the wheels of the great Christian body and lead the entire Christiandom as the Lord Jesus Christ admonish.
“We pray that the Almighty God gives you the grace and the enablement to discharge your new assignment,’’ Uhrorho said.
It would be recalled that the association’s General Secretary, Mr Joseph Daramola, announced the emergence of Most Rev. Okoh as the new CAN President in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
Okoh is the General Superintendent of Christ Holy Church, also known as Nation Builders (Odozi-Obodo).
CAN is made up of five blocs: Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) and Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN) Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN).
Others are Organisation of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), TEKAN and ECWA Fellowship.