Glancing through online Nigerian news today, I came across a condolence message from the head of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, to the victims of the deadly stampede during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia that claimed well over 1,000 lives.
According to The Punch, CAN “commiserated with the Sultan of Sokoto and the leader of Nigerian Muslims, Sa’aid Abubakar lll, on the stampede tragedy during the ongoing Hajj in Mina, Saudi Arabia, and expressed its sympathy to the deceased families and all Nigerian Muslims.
”What surprised me about this response was how it stood in such stark contrast to the attitude of CAN to the last major religious tragedy that happened on Nigerian shores – the collapse of a building within The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN). Just over 12 months ago, 115 Christians perished in the incident yet CAN remained silent, sending neither a message of condolence to the church’s founder T.B. Joshua nor the families of those affected. In contrast, I learned the Sultan of Sokoto sent his condolences to The SCOAN and T.B. Joshua when this occurred.
Why would CAN condole with their Muslim brethren but stay so loudly silent when tragedy struck one of their own? Is it because they have publicly distanced themselves from T.B. Joshua, proclaiming that he is not of God? Does that give them the right to disregard the countless thousands of Christians who flock to his church on a weekly basis from across the globe? What hypocrisy!
This little example gives further credence to the notion that CAN, especially under Ayo Oritsejafor, has become politicized. It exposes the reality that such messages of condolence seem to be given with a purely political agenda, not because of any genuine concern for those involved.
This sadly reminds me of the billion naira bribe allegedly collected by CAN pastors during last year’s elections in return for canvassing support for the then President Goodluck Jonathan. What of Oritsejafor’s private jet that was used for nefarious purposes in an attempt to smuggle arms from South Africa to Nigeria? When will CAN stop being known for political statements and associations and start being known for spreading Christ’s Gospel and uplifting the poor in society?
By Ikenna Obi – Nigerian living in USA