The inauguration of Most Reverend Daniel Okoh as the new president of the Christian Association of Nigeria on Thursday was graced by political presidential candidates including Peter Obi of the Labour party, Christopher Imumolen of the Accord Party and Adewole Ebenezar of the Social Democratic party.
Other special guests were Govenor Ifeanyi Okowa, Vice Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue state and Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
During his goodwill message, Obi congratulated the family of CAN for a very smooth, peaceful transition.
” I think we have to come and learn from you so we can have a seamless transition as we go along,” he said.
He called on Christians to be one, irrespective of denomination.
“Mine is to appeal to CAN and all of us that are Christians , the body of Christ is one with different branches and parts.
“Finally, for Nigerians, please do remember your country in prayers, we are going through a very difficult time, remember all of us who are in public office in prayers so as to use public money for public good,” he added.
Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State Governor said although the country was passing through trying times, the church should not loose hope in Nigeria’s unity and progress.
“There is no doubt that we are at a very trying time as a nation, and there is a lot of work to be done by the body of Christ and that work is going to be led by our fathers in the Lord.
“This time calls for prayers, caution and unity of this country and I believe that the church has a role to play just beyond calling people to come out and collect their PVCs, ” he said.
He agreed that politicians will play their politics but the clergy should continue to pray for the nation.
He alleged that there is so much damage in the nation where he is governor citing the fact that various ethnic nationalities are singing in discordant tunes nowadays.
“What the church ought to do is to please spend more time on their bended knees.
“We must not divide the Christian body, we must not divide our nation,” he pleaded.
When Samuel Ortom, the Benue State Governor took his turn, he appreciated the church in Nigeria for not allowing itself to be intimidated by what is going on in the country.
“And to say that today, Nigeria and the church is under siege but we must continue to look unto God that He will help us.
“I want to appeal to the church, please brethren, love one another, work together and ensure unity and represent Jesus Christ,” he advised.
On the behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, brought fratenal greetings to the outgoing CAN president, Samson Ayokunle.
He observed that “this is the most peaceful transition of CAN leadership that I have ever seen.”
He applauded the former CAN president for being a man of honour and dignity while praying that the clergy will seek God’s direction in guiding Nigerians.
He said to Ayokunle, “Thank you for the leadership you have giving to the church and to this country.
“In my capacity as SGF, I can attest to the fact that the outgoing CAN president is a man of dignity.
“Inspite of very difficult challenge in which the church has found itself, he has been very peaceful.
“He co-chairs NIREC( Nigeria Inter-Religious Council) with the Sultan of Sokoto and every time they spoke, they spoke in pursuit of peace.
“You will leave a sustainable legacy.
“It is an honor and a privilege for me to stand here at this leadership transition at this momentous time at the life of our country.”
To the new CAN president, Mustapha said “on our part as Government, we will give you the maximum support to ensure that you succeed.
“The church in a time like this, must reflect on the past, present and the future.
“In the days of old, the church was the custodian of wisdom, knowledge and direction. My prayer is that O lord, raise for us, prophets of old of whom to enquire as to how to deal with the problem of our nation.
“I see a glorious church out of the ashes of what is happening in this country,” he added.
The SDP Presidential Candidate, Adewole told the audience that the problems that the church is facing today, is a problem ordained for the times but that the will of God will be done for Nigeria.
He further said that the unity of the church is important but the unity of church is not complete until there is unity of Nigeria.
He maintained that the clergy are called as instruments of God and nothing should happen that will stop them from being instruments of God.
“In terms of crisis, carnal expectations are not where the solution lies,” he said.
For the Accord Party candidate, Imomulen insisted that the church has a mandate to make sure Nigeria operates by the fear of God.