“When FALSEHOOD is institutionalized, TRUTH looks like REBELLION” – Unknown
The purpose of this communication by the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) is to present to the Christian Community an abridged Performance Report on the present leadership of CAN under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle as President, for the period July 2016 to June 2019. As Christians and members of Christian Association of Nigeria, NCEF has the right to assess and comment on the performance of the officials of the Association. NCEF is also using the opportunity to stress that the Mandate given to NCEF by the immediate past President of CAN is to:
(1) Mediate the phenomenon of Church Adrift being experienced by the Christian Community; and encourage leadership of Denominations to appreciate the existence of partial interdependence between politics and religion and the tension it could create when compromised; and the risk it could deliver to stifle the Church Mandate which is to honor the Great Commission.
(2) Uphold Christian Ethics and Values while engaged with political power play. NCEF is persuaded from facts available that presently, CAN has a “false god” sitting on its throne. NCEF presents hereunder and with confidence the supportive findings in a nutshell, that current CAN leadership has compromised its mission as Voice of the Church and Defender of the Christian Faith and Freedom of Worship in our multi-religious and multi-cultural society.
Having noted that specific NCEF Mandate, the Christian Community is invited to check from the substantive narrative on the subject the following:
a. Evidence of gross betrayal of GOD’s mandate by the sitting CAN leadership; and the hardships and wickedness visited on the Nigerian Community by the Governments that have become comfortable through compromise of Christian values by non-authentic CAN leadership;
b. Evidence that NCEF when in pursuit of its mandate of counseling Truth, Inclusiveness and Equity in National Governance was seen as threat to CAN’s Leadership for reason that NCEF stood firmly against political-correctness and freedom of some Clergy to use the Presidency of Nigeria as ATM Machine; and as gambling machine for exploitation by the membership of “Church Adrift” - a practice that has become the song and dance of present CAN leadership.
The Christian Community is invited to note further, the antagonism unleashed against NCEF as it routinely:
Demanded that CAN Leadership should exercise responsibility to render account for Funds received from Governors and Presidency but not reflected in the Accounts of CAN.
· Counseled Nigerian Masses to Vote out corrupt and incompetent politicians for Non Performance and for deceitful engagement with the People while in office.
· Counseled Nigerians to “THINK NEW” and engage with a “Third Force” founded on Justice and Equity, Security and Safety, Freedom of Worship and Movement with Leadership Accountability; towards change to a New Nigeria of our collective dream where Peace and Concord shall reign while Deception as governance strategy and Audacity of Fascism as political tools are confined in their graves.
· Counseled Nigerian Christians to go on their knees and ask where JESUS (in the material world of politics) would cast His vote during the last elections. The Righteous Expectations would be that Jesus will not cast His vote for victory of a Party that is governed by the spirit of entitlement. NCEF became concerned that through acts of omission and commission by the current Christian leadership, all the efforts to provide a credible option to the political status quo were deliberately frustrated by Rev. Ayokunle. Details of these acts of sabotage are contained in the report of the NCEF titled FACTORS HINDERING CHRISTIAN POLITICAL CONSENSUS FOR 2019 ELECTIONS available at http://csmnigeria.org/blog/404-factors-hindering-christian-consensus-for-2019 To date, no one has been able to refute the Report because it is based on facts.
The kernel of this presentation is to encourage the Christian Community, at all levels, to identify with the need for change, primarily in Christian leadership. Christians are called to stay off sidelines, take personal responsibility for Christianity in Nigeria and make the best use of the golden opportunity offered by the current election season in CAN and commit to elect into office a new President of CAN in June, 2019.
LEADERSHIP LIKE JESUS IS NEEDED
In view of the foregoing, it could be understood why NCEF is concerned to learn that in the preparation for the election of the next President of CAN, the incumbent President, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, is being presented by some of the Clergy, as a candidate for re-election. While National Christian Elders Forum has nothing personal against Rev. Ayokunle, the way and manner in which he handled the exalted and highly esteemed office of the President of CAN is totally unacceptable. Presenting him for re-election is, in the view of NCEF, reinforcing irresponsibility and rewarding leadership failure in CAN.
The current CAN President displayed inability to work with existing CAN structures. He was in constant contention with the Vice President, Prof. Joseph Otubu, the late General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake (before his death), the Trustees of CAN Trust Fund, Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) which was established by former CAN President, Prelate Mbang and inaugurated by Cardinal Onaiyekan as CAN Vice President in 2001, and of course, the contentions with NCEF are well documented. Why would CAN have a President who found it difficult to “follow peace with all men”?
Also disturbing were the multiple allegations of fraud, diversion of donations to CAN, violation of the CAN Constitution and embarrassing acts of cover up. The deliberate attempts to sweep these acts of corruption and misconducts in CAN under the carpet, through the setting up of a sham Committee constitute low points for Christianity in Nigeria.
To worsen matters, Rev. Ayokunle set up a 1,000 man CAN Election Observers to monitor the 2019 Elections. In the first instance, this is not the responsibility of CAN because it was not established to engage in politics. Christian Social Movement of Nigeria was established by CAN leaders in 2001 as the socio-political arm of the Church to fulfill this responsibility. Instead of permitting CSMN to fulfill its obligations to the Church and the country, Rev. Ayokunle went to the Press in August 2018 and denounced CSMN claiming CAN has no connection with it. This is like spitting in the faces of his predecessors. Nonetheless, after sending 1,000 man Election Observers to the field, Rev. Ayokunle did not release the Report of their findings before going to congratulate President Buhari for “winning” the Election. To date, no one has been informed on what the 1,000 man CAN Election Observers saw on the field but CAN has been used to legitimize an election that is being keenly contested in Court for lack of credibility.
Therefore, for anyone to suggest that such an individual should be considered for re-election is to say the least very disappointing. There should be a limit to which men would test the patience of God.
ARE WE ALLOWED TO JUDGE?
NCEF is aware of a trend amongst Christians that “judgment” should be left for God. We are told that Christians are not supposed to judge one another, and in particular, Christian leaders should only be prayed for and their judgment should be committed into the hands of God, if they do anything wrong.
Fortunately for the Christian Elders, every Christian has access to the Bible, the Word of God. First and foremost, Christianity is equal brotherhood. Christ says in Matt. 23: 8 “… all ye are brethren …” Second, when it comes to judging evil and unrighteousness in the Body of Christ, God did not instruct in the New Testament that such judgment should be referred to Him. Christians are expected to deal directly with unrighteousness within the body.
1 Cor. 5: 12-13 - For what have I to do to judge them also that are without (unbelievers)? do not ye judge them that are within (believers)? But them that are without (unbelievers) God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
Believers are meant to judge unrighteousness within the Body of Christ while God will judge the unrighteousness outside Christianity. One of the major problems of Christianity in Nigeria is inability to confront evil and unrighteousness within Christendom. People quote “judge not and ye will not be judged” out of context in order to justify atrocities in the Church and they still expect to be accepted and treated as brethren. It is not scriptural. 1 Cor. 5: 12-13 agrees with the following:
1 Tim. 5: 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
Eph. 5: 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (NKJV)
Matt. 18: 15-17 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, thentake with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Gal. 2: 11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Whenever Christianity fails to execute judgment upon unrighteousness within the Body of Christ, it opens itself for judgment of God. This is the root of the crisis Nigerian Christians are currently going through. Almost every Christian is complaining of hardship, persecution and oppression without asking what the Church has done wrong. It is the failure of Christians to judge the multiple evils and acts of unrighteousness within the Church that has opened up the people of God for affliction. God’s hands are not short to save, neither are His ears too heavy to hear, but iniquities hinder deliverance from oppression. (Isaiah 59)
1 Cor. 11: 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
The above implies, “if we do not judge ourselves, we shall be judged.” A number of people, particularly in leadership positions in CAN, are committing acts uncomplimentary to Christianity. It has been difficult to challenge them or call them to order because the Scripture has been manipulated to grant them “immunity clause”. This should stop. Anyone that is mishandling Christian authority or position should be challenged and called to order. No one should give the impression that because of title and position, no one can question him. There is no “immunity clause” in the New Testament. “Ye all are all brethren”, says the Lord.
The above underscores the need for the Church to return to the teaching and practice of repentance. Without repentance from sin, there is no meaningful Christianity. In the past two years, NCEF has been organizing National Prayers and Fasting for Repentance. We should not be satisfied with mere rhythms and motions of religion without the spiritual substance which is marked by repentance leading to holiness. "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord."
GOD IS GOD OF JUSTICE AND EQUITY
It is curious that the present leadership of CAN makes media statements demanding from unbelievers what they fail to practice in CAN. Nigerian Christians demand equity and justice in the politics of Nigeria but fail to practice it. Meanwhile, it is CAN that is expected to set the standard for righteousness and equity in the country.
NCEF makes this observation against the background of the imbalance in holding offices in CAN. Since inception in 1976, the five Blocs have held offices as follows:
Cardinal Ekandem 1976-1988 - 12 years CSN
Cardinal Okogie 1988-1995 - 7 years CSN
Prelate Mbang 1995-2003 - 8 years CCN
Prelate Akinola 2003-2007 - 4 years CCN
Cardinal Onaiyekan 2007-2010 - 3 years CSN
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor 2010-2016 - 6 years CPFN/PFN
Rev. Olasupo Ayokunle 2016-2019 - 3 years CCN
Since inception in 1976, CSN has held office of President of CAN for a total of 22 years while CCN has held the office for 15 years and CPFN/PFN has held the office for 6 years. Both OAIC and TEKAN/ECWA have not held the office at all.
While we commend the CSN and CCN for astute leadership, we believe it is time that they should give way for other arms of CAN which are yet to provide leadership to do so. In view of the need to ensure balance and equity in the Church, which would promote unity and mutual respect, TEKAN/ECWA and OAIC Blocs should be given the opportunity to produce the leadership of CAN. Both Blocs also have Christian leaders qualified to hold the Office. NCEF has noted that Dr. Caleb Ahima of TEKAN/ECWA has already indicated interest in the Office and he has scaled through the Electoral College.
God bless Nigeria.
Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN
National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF)
17th May, 2019