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Let’s dialogue to avoid war, says new CAN President

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja) and Monday Osayande (Asaba)
30 July 2022   |   2:47 am
The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has congratulated the newly elected president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Rev. Daniel Okoh.

Newly elected president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Daniel Okoh

Tinubu, Okowa Send Congratulatory Messages

The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has congratulated the newly elected president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Rev. Daniel Okoh.

Similarly, Delta State Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday, congratulated Okoh on his election as CAN President.

Okoh was elected last Monday to succeed the Rev. Samson Olusupo Ayokunle upon completion of his tenure. 

Speaking after receiving the mantle of leadership from the outgone president of the association, yesterday, in Abuja, Okoh called for religious dialogue between Christians, Muslims and people of other faith to increase the mutual understanding they have for one another, unity and peaceful coexistence in the country.

He insisted that with all the confusion in different parts of the country, Nigeria was in dire need of dialogue in order to avoid war.

He said: “We need dialogue now in order to avoid war. Let us talk now so that we can actually avoid war. We don’t have a choice; we have to keep talking even in the midst of all the confusion. We will continue to dialogue to increase the mutual understanding we have for one another and Nigeria will be much better.”

He observed that the high level of insecurity in the country was a source of concern, but noted that as Christians, “we remain confident that we have the presence of God who rules in the affairs of men. We believe that God will prosper the efforts of genuine officers who are working day and night to ensure that there is peace in Nigeria.”

Okoh described his predecessor as a humble and magnanimous leader, who served the Christian community with all his heart.

Tinubu in a statement by his Media Office signed by Tunde Rahman noted that the new CAN leader, who is the General Superintendent of Christ Holy Church, is a worthy successor to Ayokunle whose tenure as CAN president was characterised by exceptional commitment, principle and wisdom.

Tinubu said: “I congratulate Rev. Okoh on his election as the new president of CAN. Rev. Okoh had truly distinguished himself as the deputy to Rev. Ayokunle.”

The APC leader declared that Nigeria could only expect nothing but inspired and enlightened leadership from Okoh.

He added: “CAN is one of the most important organisations in the nation. Not only does it seek the betterment of the Christian community in Nigeria, its moral force and standing benefit all Nigerians as we seek to establish a just and compassionate society where people of all faiths and beliefs live and work together in peace and harmony. 

“As a nation, we are in a critical moment where misguided and terrible actors attempt to destroy social harmony and reign violence on us all. These awful forces seek to stoke religious and ethnic divisions in hope of pitting Nigerian brothers against Nigerian brother. Decent and good Nigerians of all faiths must align against such designs. While we may not agree on everything, all well-meaning Nigerians agree that we must live in peace, must respect and honour our diversity and eschew violence and hatred. 

“We are grateful that CAN as an organisation embodies these and other principles that reflect the values and virtues of Christ. We are glad that the new President of CAN, Rev. Okoh, is a humane and kind soul who has dedicated his life to the betterment of his fellow man and is a person who will work with leaders of other faiths and beliefs to anneal the bonds of unity, inter-religious understanding and tolerance while advocating for the benefits of democratic good governance for all Nigerians regardless of creed or belief systems.

“As long as we stand forthright and adhere to these tenets, Nigeria will defeat the plans of those who seek to place discord and hatred at our door.    

“As Rev. Okoh assumes the mantle of leadership, it is my hope and prayer that his tenure brightens every corner of our country and may he be a shining light to all.”

Okowa, in a congratulatory message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba, commended the Christian community in Nigeria for the peaceful conduct of the convention, saying it reflected the promotion of peace and unity, which they preached.

He noted that Nigerians were facing diverse economic and security challenges, urging the new president of CAN to mobilise all citizens to collectively intercede “for our country as we take practical and actionable steps to rescue Nigeria”. 

He called on Okoh to champion the crusade of religious tolerance in the country and build bridges in that regard.

“We are pleased with your peaceful emergence as the number one leader of Christians in Nigeria. 

“The task ahead is onerous and it is our prayer that, in your new position, God uses you to counsel and move the entire Christendom in Nigeria in the direction that you have been ordained to lead.

“I must also appreciate the role of the Church in promoting peaceful co-existence, education and social welfare in our state and country,” he said. 

He also commended the immediate outgoing President of the association, Ayokunle, for successfully piloting the affairs of CAN during his tenure. 

“As Deltans, we remain extremely proud of your illustrious contributions to the growth of the Christian faith in Nigeria,” Okowa added.