…Akinola, others to shun Akwa Ibom meeting
A former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Most Rev. Peter Akinola and many other religious leaders have declined to attend the meeting of Christian elders scheduled for Uyo, Akwa Ibom State tomorrow (Thursday), investigations have revealed.
The meeting was convened by the Catholic ArchBishop of Abuja Diocese and former President of CAN, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, at the residence of a former President of CAN and ex-Primate of the Methodist Church, Sunday Mbang.
Onaiyekan, in his invitation letter, however, admitted that he has “no authority” to summon any national meeting of CAN.
Apart from Akinola, it was learnt that most of the senior religious leaders and elders have vowed never to attend the meeting because of its illegality.
In a letter to Onaiyekan and obtained by journalists on Wednesday in Abuja, Akinola said he would not attend the meeting because the information got to him very late.
“I waited to hear from you the response of others to our proposals; your mail arrived my inbox late midnight in Nairobi. I am very sorry to have to say that I might not be able to attend the Uyo consultation. I have been travelling rather extensively within and outside these shores in the last few weeks. In point of fact, I just came back from Nairobi exhausted, having spent two sleepless nights due to flight delays.
“My two knees are wobbling. My doctor suggests that I take off at least the next one week to rest because as of this moment, I am physically unfit to undertake any further travels in the next few weeks.”
Although it is not part of its constitution, the usual practice and tradition is that the Vice President of CAN automatically takes over (through election) from the President whenever the tenure of the latter expires.
The National Director of Christ Redeemers Union, Dr. Ebenezer Olusola Abednego, had faulted its legality, alleging that the meeting which had also invited the outgoing President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, was aimed at scuttling the inauguration of CAN’s President-Elect, Supo Samson Ayokunle.
But both Onaiyekan and Mbang, have however denied the allegation.
“When Primate Akinola, from the Anglican Church, ran for a second tenure as CAN President, he was defeated by Onaiyekan following a gang-up against him by the Catholics. When Onaiyekan ran for a second tenure in CAN Presidency, he was defeated by Ayo Oritsejafor from the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. Oritsejafor has stabilised CAN and his Vice President, Ayokunle won the election. You can see the selfishness there in the meeting”, a source said.
It would be recalled that while Ayokunle, President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, contested the CAN presidential election under the platform of the Christian Council of Nigeria, his Vice-President-Elect, Prof. Joseph Otubu, of the Motailatu Church Cherubim and Seraphim Movement, contested under the umbrella of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches.
The inauguration of the new leadership of CAN will hold on July 20 during the forthcoming General Assembly of CAN in Abuja to be presided over by Oritsejafor, who is the Founder of the Word of Life Bible Church in Warri, Delta State.
In the invitation letter, Onaiyekan said, “Three of us, Prelate Sunday Mbang, Primate Peter Akinola and John Cardinal Onaiyekan, all former Presidents of CAN), consulted among ourselves over the past week-end, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“We know that we have no authority to summon any national meeting of CAN. But we feel that the spirit is challenging us to do our best for the good of the community of Christians.
“The people we are inviting are as follows: all other former CAN Presidents, and all former Vice Presidents; the incumbents (President and Vice President); Heads of the five blocks of CAN or their representatives and a few other major Church leaders, (about five), not including the above. We expect it to start at 5.00pm and end by 9.00pm. It will be a closed door meeting, with no publicity.”