"Our Children Will Continue To Wear Church Robes To School" - CAN President, Ayokun


Rev'd. Samson Olasupo Adeniyi
Ayokunle, the new National President
of the Christian Association of Nigeria,
CAN’s, interview, in which the cleric
outlines the challenges ahead of him
and calls on the Federal Government to hasten to restructure the nation and
revamp the economy because the
people are hungry.
Let him try it and he will know how
people can shut down government. If
he wants to kill, he will have so many people to kill. Let him try it. He will tell
us whether it is only one set of
religious students that have right and
others don’t have. I have said it that
people in that level of management
should not, by their statements polarise the situation more than what
was on ground before. What stops
him from keeping quiet, than fuelling
the situation? The issue of hijab and many other
issues like the proposed education
curriculum tend to make many
people believe there is a plot to
Islamize this nation. Are you of the
same opinion, and if yes, what will the Christian community do? Whether there is Islamization or not,
Christianity in Nigeria is under siege.
We can all see what is on ground. I’m
not talking about belief, I’m talking
about facts. Christianity is under siege.
How can somebody say that he is doing a reform in the curriculum and
change Christian doctrine and think
that we will keep quiet? They will be
teaching in that new educational
curriculum that Jesus Christ is not the
son of God. Is that Christian teaching? And you call it Christian Religious
Knowledge? Where did you bring that
one from if you are not just provoking
anger in other people? You want to be
teaching that Jesus is not the son of
God and that He did not die on the cross and that He did not rise from the
dead. You are saying there’s nothing
like Christianity. Is that education?
Who drew the curriculum? It can never
see the light of the day. You know that
CAN is already on it. I think some time ago before I travelled, I saw
government apologizing over that and
I need to commend the government
for that; that they knew that the
curriculum was in bad taste. I think
what the government ought to do is to investigate the people responsible for
such a thing. If it is still in the National
Educational Research Council, that
person should be sanctioned. What
was the intention? I think the best
thing is to dismiss that individual from service. He or she wants to set the
nation on fire. If you see what is
happening…Joseph Zechariah Kura,
an Evangelical Church Winning All
pastor in Nassarawa State was
butchered. The following week, a woman in Abuja was killed. Somebody
was not a Muslim, he wanted to eat in
his shop in Kaduna, he was stabbed.
The one in Kano, you were doing
ablution in front of another woman’s
shop and she stopped them. She was killed. A Catholic Church opened for
service in Niger State on Friday and
you said Friday was specifically for
you. Who told you that others should
not worshiping God on Friday except
you? Don’t we see other religious adherents do their service on Sunday?
Has anybody attacked them? And our
authorities keep quiet as if nothing is
happening. We will not allow them to
rest until they speak out and do
something. There is a siege! And when we are talking, it is not because we
want to set the nation on fire but
because we don’t want the nation to
be on fire. Let there be mutual respect.
We used to live together mutually, it
was not like this. Let’s return to that time, that’s what we are saying. When
we had Muslims and Christians in the
same family and they were eating and
wining together. Where has this type
of spirit come from? I think it’s the
spirit of end time putting Christianity under siege. We are too many in this
nation for somebody to think that they
can overrun us. .as we live and as long
as God gives us our breath, we will not
allow anybody to force any religion on
us. What steps will you take to rebuild
the churches in North East? Beyond
the North East, what should the
Christian community expect from
your tenure? And there is also the
fact that till now there are no Certificates of Occupancy issued to
churches in the whole of the North… Pastor Oritsejafor’s administration was
very involved in rebuilding the lives of
people who have been affe In terms of
what Pastor Ayo has done, God gave
that man resources and he spent it for
the Church. It is very difficult for you to have another Christian leader that can
have that advantage and that type of
spirit. I am coming from an established
organisation which does not allow me
to spend half kobo from collection
unless what it is approved. And before approval is given, it will pass through
many tables. As an established
organisation, you know that we have
our own ministries; internally
displaced people, widows and so on
that we attend to with several millions. We will do our best but you better not
compare because areas of ministry
differ. What I can assure you is that I
will not keep my mouth shut until all
the people who are passing through
suffering and hard times and people who have been victims of this
insurgency have been properly taken
care of either through CAN or through
the government or non-governmental
organisations. I was at the World
Council of Churches and I was shouting at the top of my voice that
internally displaced people in Nigeria
should be attended to. And by the
grace of God, from February or March
this coming year, the World Council of
Churches is coming to lay the foundation of an international inter-
faith religious center in Kaduna so that
what led to the Boko Haram
insurgency might not repeat itself in
our nation. And the Baptist World
Alliance adopted a resolution which has already been passed to President
Obama that he should employ an
envoy to take care specifically of the
internally displaced people in Nigeria.
So we will build on what Pastor Ayo
Oritsejafor has done but the style may be different because the access that
we have to resources differs. On the
issue of C of O for churches in the
North, I think we will engage lawyers
to address the matter. If any church is
denied C of O, we will like to have the records and the reasons for the denial
and we may challenge that in the court
of law. Nigerians cannot be treated as
aliens in their own land. What will be your cardinal agenda?
Will it be a two-point agenda or
four-point agenda? Go and get my acceptance speech, you
will see my agenda there. I have seen your acceptance
speech; there was no mention of
NIREC. What will be the new
relationship of CAN with the Islamic
community considering the fact that
NIREC has been moribund for some time now… Mine is to look at what happened. I
have told the National Secretariat to
send a letter to the Sultan of Sokoto to
inform him that we have a new
administration, a new CAN President,
and I’ll take it up from there. What’s your own approach to the
proposal for grazing reserves? We have shown our opposition to
that. Ranches are better. Let the Fulani
men who are professionals in cattle
rearing, wherever they want to buy
land, let them take money from their
pockets and buy it because they sell cows to us; so why should it be
government buying land for them?
Will they buy land for mechanics also?
Are they going to buy land for pastors
to plant churches? What is good for
the goose is good for the gander. They should not take our public funds
to buying land for Fulani herdsmen.
They are doing their private
businesses. They amputated the leg of
my cousin in our village. When the girl
was coming from the river, they met her, they wanted to take her, she was
running away, unfortunately she fell
and they amputated her leg. It was
Baptist hospital that helped us on that
lady, an unmarried lady. It pains my
hearts. What wickedness. I cannot allow herdsmen in my backyard. Any
family who wants to sell land to them,
I’m not hindering you; you can go
ahead and sell but let them buy it
themselves. in 2014, the Jonathan
administration organized a National
Conference where
recommendations were made
including the one in favour of the
restructuring of the nation. But the Buhari government says it has
nothing to do with the
recommendations. How do you
respond? The statement of the President is that
he has not even opened the report of
the National Conference. How can you
conclude that a document is not good
when you have not seen the content?
Someone occupying such a position who is looking for the best solution to
move us forward will not have that
type of bias. You can’t condemn what
you don’t know about. People
gathered from all over the nation,
money was spent on it; even for the sake of the money that was spent on
it, public money, wouldn’t you read
the report? If you don’t have time, give
it to people that will analyse it critically
for you and you will be able to bring
certain things up that you are going to use. Somebody looking for a way out
will not throw away completely a
suggestion that is coming from
another angle. We have seen this in
Nigeria government, not with this
administration alone. We have seen it in the past, where many projects will
just be abandoned because the party
in power does not buy into it and the
citizens suffer for it. Everybody sees
that this present federal system is not
the way federalism is operated. I read political science in the university. In
the U.S, to a large extent, each of the
states has autonomy. We need to
restructure. On the issue of the states being in
charge of their resources, the Niger
Delta Avengers and other groups
are clamouring for that and they
are bombing pipelines. What do
you have to say concerning that? Is it good or is it bad? There is a theorem in psychology that
says that resort to aggression
depends on the degree of frustration.
The more frustrated people are, the
more aggressive they are. I think the
government in power made some miscalculations because before they
came on board, these people have
been checkmated and there was an
agreement that made them to
continue to feel satisfied and
government satisfied for natural revenue to be coming. That shouldn’t
have been jettisoned. And if there will
be moderation to it, it should be
minimal so that it will not degenerate
into the present situation that we are
experiencing. I was reading the newspaper some days ago that the
revenue has fallen by over 40%. What
is anybody gaining from that? That is
the reason I told you they need a
more potent economic outfit to move
this country forward. The Avengers are not doing the best thing by taking
the law into their hands. But it is good
for the government to have time to sit
down with them because for every
problem, there is a solution.