The Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have signed a pact to de-escalate religious tension in the country ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The accord was signed during the International Religious Freedom Summit organised by the Global Peace Foundation and 70 international human rights and religious freedom groups in Washington D.
C. This is contained in a statement signed by the immediate past President of CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, issued on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to him, the Sultan of Sokoto, Dr Saad Abubakar, who doubles as the President-General of NSCIA, was represented by Prof. Yusuf Usman, former Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme.
The apex Christian body was represented by Ayokunle.
Ayokunle said the two organisations agreed to encourage Muslims and Christians in the country to shun violence, embrace dialogue and remain committed to building resilient communities that are free from fear.
He added that the two religious bodies also promised to embrace a vision of common humanity and speak publicly on hope for Nigeria’s peaceful and bright future.
Ayokunle said that the pact was part of the determination of religious leaders to work together and lead Nigerians out of all current crises in the country.
According to him, much of the crisis in Nigeria have religious context, as such it is important to mobilise Muslims and Christians to ensure peaceful coexistence.
He commended the Sultan for his consistent advocacy for peaceful coexistence in the country.
According to him, the pact will help to build a stronger Nigeria that is able to tackle its challenges, including lack of security, accountability and corruption.
“The Declaration we signed lays out a number of principles that we believe all Nigerians can readily affirm.
“It states that all people are endowed by the Creator with inherent value and fundamental rights.
“Regardless of nationality, ethnicity, culture, region or the many other differences that often divide us, and that the essential freedom and dignity of every person must be respected and protected.
“The Declaration also calls for collaboration amongst the various traditions and faith communities in Nigeria, in order to advance the wellbeing of all and resolve conflicts peacefully.
” He said that both NSCIA and CAN vocally rejected and condemned the use of violence and coercion to spread political or religious views and identities or demean ethnic, regional, or tribal affiliation.
Ayokunle added that the pact demanded for peaceful, free and fair elections in 2023. He added that both religious bodies agreed to push for more judicial integrity and fairness and engage leaders to tackle insecurity, reprisal attacks, kidnapping, sexual violence and organised crime.
Other areas of concern, according to him, include food security, education, sustainable livestock production, hostile business environment and unemployment.
“Certainly, individuals will have different opinions as to the causes of and solutions to all of these problems.
“But far more importantly, we must share a fundamental commitment to the unity of Nigeria and to work collaboratively toward solutions through peaceful and respectful means,” he added.
Ayokunle said that religious leaders have a duty to shepherd their communities in a way that promotes peace.
“We call upon all religious and political leaders and all people of faith to develop and promote solutions that are grounded in the shared values of our common humanity,” he added.
The Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu, has congratulated the newly elected President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Archbishop Daniel Okoh.Kalu, in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja, described the newly elected President as a committed religious leader who is committed to nation building.
Acknowledging the leading roles played by CAN in advocating religious harmony and peace, Kalu said that spiritual leaders have major roles to play in the social, economic and political development of Nigeria.
According to him, the role of religious platforms in promoting peace and unity cannot be overemphasised.
The former governor of Abia urged the President of CAN to sustain the good legacies of his predecessor, who championed religious tolerance and harmony among Nigerians regardless of tribal, ethnic and religious differences.
He said, “on behalf of the people of Abia North Senatorial district, I congratulate the newly elected President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Daniel Okoh on his assumption of office.
“The spiritual leader has served meritoriously in various positions in all facets of life.
“His emergence as President of CAN is a testimony to his goodwill and pedigree across the country.
“Archbishop Okoh, no doubt, will consolidate and build on the achievements of his predecessor”.
Kalu wished the new President a successful tenure while also wishing the outgoing President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle continued success in his spiritual endeavours.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Okoh is the General Superintendent of Christ Holy Church also known as Nation Builders.
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.
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.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha has urged the Church to pray fervently for the country following the rate of insecurity.
Mustapha spoke in Abuja at the 12th General Assembly and leadership transition service of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The theme of the event is: “The role of the Church in times like this”.
The SGF urged Nigerians to always embrace peace and unity irrespective of religion or tribe.
He congratulated the incoming and the outgoing CAN presidents and prayed for their success.
Also ,the General Assembly of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) formally validated the election of Archbishop Daniel Okoh as the new president of the religious body.
His recommendation was done by an Electoral College set up to screen and suggest candidates for the office of the President and Vice President, respectively.
His nomination was in line with the provisions of the 2021 CAN constitution as amended.
Okoh, the General Superintendent of Christ Holy Church International, emerged the new leader after getting a 100 per cent vote of all 259 delegates, who participated in the 12th General Assembly of CAN.
He is expected to serve a single five-year term.
In his acceptance speech, Archbishop Okoh charged the President Muhammadu Buhari to quell the rising insecurity in the country.
” i thank the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR), for his efforts to combat terrorism and banditry.
” I will like to appeal to His Excellency to end the bloodletting, kidnapping and general insecurity in all the geo-political zones of the country.
“I believe that government can do more to secure the lives and property given all the modern technology within its reach.
”Okoh noted the need for CAN to respond appropriately to national issues and assured that the apex Christian body would continue to participate actively and effectively in nation building.
Okoh stated that for Christians to remain relevant in the scheme of things, the first step was to increase CAN’s efforts to work towards Christian unity and mutual understanding.
He said these should be among the denominations of the Church in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the outgoing CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, urged his successor to love the people irrespective of their weaknesses.
“The people will annoy him, make him angry, and may not even appreciate him, but he must continue to seek the good of the people,” he advised.
In a sermon by Rev William Okoye, General Overseer, All Christians Fellowship Mission spoke on the topic “Finishing well”.
He said there were three very important questions all Christians and leaders should bear in mind and would give account of before God“What did you do with my son Jesus Christ; “As one who benefitted from Jesus’ death on the cross,did you live for him?
“What did you do with all the talents and gifts I gave you?
Okoye urged all Christians to ensure they lived within these questions to live right and enhance national development.
The Presidential Candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Prince Adewole Adebayo, says to prosper Nigeria needs honest leaders who love the country.
Adebayo stated this when he visited the national leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Monday in Abuja.
“God wants this country to be a great nation, a country that is prosperous and has no problem.
“What we lack is honesty, love and care to the extent that we keep accumulating wealth.
Everybody knows that there is no former president of Nigeria who is 100 years old and is alive.
“If we just obey God’s laws and our constitution and are well trained at home, we will have a very good country.
“All the problems of insecurity, rising debt are as a result of our deficit in honesty.
If we change our ways, God’s blessings will be upon us.
There is nothing mystical in this country,” he said.
Adebayo said that the CAN believed that Nigerians should seek God’s guidance regarding the 2023 polls and that only the will of God would be done as power comes from God. He said that religious leaders have prayed that God would allow someone with the heart for service to emerge as the president of Nigeria in 2023..
“Religious leaders have prayed that no leader of iniquity will rule Nigeria again and that God’s will be done in this country.
On his part, CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, said that Adebayo came for prayers at the National Christian Centre and was prayed for.
“He came for prayers and he met with us to pray for him and to well wish him well.
“We need as many people as the Lord has touched to contest the presidency, “ he said.
Ayokunle said this would enable the people to have an array of presidential candidates to choose from.
“We want the best candidate that would do our nation good.
This is our prayer,“ he said.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), while appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to order the release of Prelate of the Methodist Church Nigeria, Samuel Uche and two others condemned their abduction.
In a statement on Monday title: “CAN asks Buhari to order immediate rescue of Methodist Prelate, two others’’ was signed by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant, Media and Communications to the President of CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle.
CAN appealed to Buhari to give an order to the security agencies to “free them immediately and stop the incessant abduction of clerics and other innocent Nigerians forthwith.”
CAN recalls that Uche was abducted on Sunday in Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State along with the Methodist Bishop of Owerri and the Prelate’s Chaplain, Rt. Rev. Dennis Mark by gunmen.
The statement read in part, “If a great Servant of God of Uche’s calibre could be kidnapped like a three-year-old baby on a major road without any resistance from the police, it speaks volumes of what our security architecture has become.
“No fewer than 10 clerics have been kidnapped this year alone and none was rescued by the security agencies.
“In two instances, the victims were killed by their captors, unfortunately!
“This situation is not good for our nation at all,’’ CAN said.
The association called on Buhari to do all within his powers to get these servants of God released very soon and unhurt.
“We call on Christians and other well-meaning Nigerians to join us in praying for their release immediately,’’ CAN said. (www.nanews.ng)
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to be peace loving and live a life of sacrifice to make a lasting impact.The president made the call during the burial service for Ngo Zimi Pam, the mother of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam.The service was held on Saturday at Tahei Polo Field, Gyel, in the Jos South local government area.Buhari described the deceased as a selfless mother, who instilled good moral education in her children and provided humanitarian services to the destitute in her community.The president, who was represented by Women's Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, urged children to honor their mothers so that they may live long and receive blessings.In his remarks, the governor of Plateau, Mr. Simon Lalong, said that the deceased was a devout Christian and community leader, who gave her best in the service of God and humanity.He said that she mentored many people who became great in society, while urging her family to take comfort in her legacy of good deeds.In her tribute, the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, described the deceased as a selfless woman who cared not only for her children but also for destitute children in her community.Fayemi said that she lived a good life and impacted many people as shown in the testimonials given in her honor.He urged Nigerians to emulate his good deeds.In his remarks, the chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Chief Audu Ogbe, said that the deceased will continue to be an intercessor for her children and the state even in death.He urged the people of Plateau to pray ceaselessly for peace in the state to underpin development."Focus on prayers day and night, and the Lord will bring peace on earth," he said.While praying for the family of the deceased, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Reverend Samson Ayokunle, took pity on the head of the NCPC and praised the deceased as a virtuous woman.In her response, Pam thanked Nigerians for showing love and honoring her mother, who was her source of strength, prayer warrior, and counselor.Pam said she was comforted because she witnessed him rise to different positions before he died.The Nigerian News Agency reports that dignitaries at the event included TETfund Executive Secretary Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, former ministers, legislators, religious and traditional leaders, as well as senior government officials, among others.The late Ngo Zimi Pam died on January 15 at the age of 97.
President Muhammadu Buhari says the federal government remains committed to fulfilling promises made to the University Academic Staff Union (ASUU).
This, he said, was to prevent disruptive strikes, generate uninterrupted academic programs, and improve funding for educational institutions.
The president made the promise when he received members of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar, and the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Rev. Samson Ayokunle, in Abuja on Tuesday.
He praised NIREC management for intervening in the year-long strike and consulting with the parties.
According to him, no society that loves itself neglects its educational system and all its components.
Buhari urged NIREC that in their further consultations with ASUU members, it was important that they share with them that the government think highly of them and their service to the nation.
”However, they should be aware of the fiscal pressures we are currently facing. However, we remain committed to keeping our promises.
”For its part, I would like to encourage ASUU to continue working with us to find solutions to the challenges we face.
"My administration is committed to this engagement and dialogue, and I urge you to stay the course toward a joint resolution in the best interest of our children and the nation," he said.
In response to questions raised by NIREC about finding sustainable solutions to the perennial and disruptive strikes that threatened the sanctity and integrity of the nation's university system, the president said he had directed his Chief of Staff, the Labor Ministers and Employment and Education, which made solving the problem a priority.
The President said that he had received information from the Minister of Labour, “detailing where we are today, given the various stakeholders, and reported on the meeting as follows:
”To show our commitment, several payments have been made in the last 6 months, addressing several of the issues you raised, details of which the minister of labor and employment can make available to you.
”Funds have also been provided for the development of infrastructure in several public universities and several of them have started to use this facility to improve their level of infrastructure.
”Finally, and perhaps the most controversial of the issues regarding the decision to use the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) or the University Responsibility Transparency Solutions (UTAS).
”As you may know, IPPIS was introduced as a means of blocking leaks. Through IPPIS, the federal government was able to save more than 100 billion naira annually in the central civil service alone. In view of ASUU's resistance, we devised UTAS which is now on the table.
"I was also informed that the Digital Economy and Communications System Assessment Report has been shared with all stakeholders, including ASUU, and they are required to make appropriate modifications and report back on their recommendations."
On behalf of the Council, the president of the CAN said that the meeting with the president was the sole point of avoiding the strikes in the universities and the challenges of the ASUU, which they considered to be of national interest.
Ayokunle told the president that from NIREC's meeting with ASUU on January 10, 2022, university professors highlighted that the bone of contention between the union and the federal government centered on eight issues.
According to him, these issues include the inconclusive renegotiation of the ASUU-FGN agreement of 2009, UTAS, IPPIS and the distortion in wage payment challenges.
Other contentious issues include visiting panels at federal universities, reporting issues, funding for public university revitalization, earned academic allocation, state universities, and promotion arrears.
While acknowledging that some of the issues had been addressed, the NIREC leadership appealed to the president to order an immediate return to the table to conclude the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
”If the renegotiation process continues to its conclusion, the issues with which the government does not feel comfortable can be renegotiated with a view to reaching only implementable agreements.
"We believe that with the renegotiation underway, other issues will be adequately addressed along the line," the NIREC co-chair said.
By Jessica Onyegbula
Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister Malam Mohammed Bello instructed future Christian pilgrims to the Kingdom of Jordan to pray fervently for the peace of Nigeria.
The Minister gave the charge by addressing the second batch of the 2020 Main Pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Jordan prior to departure from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Bello, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Mr. Adesola Olusade, implored the pilgrims not to consider their pilgrimage as tourism but as an opportunity to pray for peace, transformation and development of Nigeria.
According to him, the FCT pilgrims for 2020 are still being prepared with the necessary logistics but the sooner they will reach the Holy Land.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), Rev. Yakubu Pam, said a total of 2,500 pilgrims have registered for FY2020.
Pam said 267 people were flown in the first group from Jos airport to the Holy Land, while the second group of 307 pilgrims departed from Abuja.
According to him, this is the first time that the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Samson Ayokunle, has led the 2020 pilgrims to the Holy Land to pray for the peace of the nation.
He assured the pilgrims that the commission would spare no effort to ensure their return to the country, adding that all necessary requirements had been met during the selection exercise.
The secretary of the government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, advised them to observe all COVID-19 protocols in the Holy Land because the pandemic still existed.
Mustapha, represented by Mr. Maurice Mbaeri, Permanent Secretary, General Services, at the SGF Office, urged them to promote the good image of Nigeria by obeying the rules of the Kingdom of Jordan. (NAA)