Visit To Buhari: CAN replies Christian elders’ forum

President Muhammadu Buhari and President of CAN, Sampson Ayokunle shaking hands
President Muhammadu Buhari and President of CAN, Sampson Ayokunle shaking hands

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has described the National Christian Elders Forum, NCEF’s condemnation of its visit to President Muhammadu Buhari as “baseless.”

The association said this in a statement signed by its Director Legal and Public Affairs, Samuel Kwamkur.

The statement was made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday.

The NCEF had condemned the visit of the CAN leadership to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to congratulate Mr Buhari on his re-election.

The NCEF described the visit as evidence that the Christian Association has unholy ties with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Meanwhile, the NCEF has had a long-standing dispute with the CAN, which resulted in the Christian association denouncing the forum and severing ties with it last December.

In its statement on Monday, NCEF accused CAN of partisan politics. It said CAN was treading a path that could destroy the future of Christianity in Nigeria.

But in reacting to the statement made by NCEF, Mr Kwamkur said the NCEF which has been disbanded by the leadership of CAN almost a year ago has no right to fault the decision of CAN.

According to Mr Kwamkur, “It is right for CAN to visit and congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari who has been declared winner of the just concluded 2019 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“I was part of the delegation of CAN, it is getting to one year now since CAN disassociated itself from the activities of the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF). The decision to visit President Muhammadu Buhari is not supposed to be with their knowledge since they are not part of CAN.

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It is also in the statement that CAN has disbanded NCEF and they have no reason to join issues with the association.

“If CAN is going right they will go left. CAN has no business with the elders forum on this matter. Most of the leaders of CAN were in that team who went to see President Muhammadu Buhari. The five blocs constituting CAN was fully represented by the leaders of the blocs.

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The statement noted that the Catholic Secretariat was represented by the Secretary of the body alongside other respected leaders from the bloc as against the NCEF’s claim that the Catholic Church was not part of the visit.

Mr Kwamkur further said, “We visited Buhari as a constituted body, not a political party, neither do we share political interest as an association.

“We work with the authority that be and if INEC is the constituted authority with the mandate to conduct elections and declare the winner what reasons do we have to say no to it? It means we are being partisan, if we go against the decision of INEC,” Mr Kwamkur added.

CAN in its statement added that “Christians are advised to respect authorities. The bible did not say respect the leaders that love you or behave well to you. There is no condition to that admonition in the bible. If you read our speech to President Buhari we stated that we visited because INEC has declared Buhari winner.

“There is nothing wrong with the opposition going to court. In fact, we appreciate the moves to avoid crisis after election. If the court later decided in favour of the opposition, CAN will also go and congratulate the person again. We have also taken decision to see the opposition and share with them to encourage the rightful moves.

“I do not see why we should be fighting over this. We have been confronting this administration with the truth. How can the elders forum want to summon the CAN president and direct him on what to do? It is not proper.”

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