Christian Association of Nigeria elects new president

Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Anglican Church of Nigeria will hand over leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria. John Onayeikan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja was elected president by a vote of 72 to 33 by delegates to the National Executive Council of CAN. The BusinessDAY report concludes, “the 304 member General Assembly of CAN is expected to ratify the election at its July 5 to July 6 meeting.”

See also this allAfrica report.

Earlier reports suggested that Akinola had made a vigorous attempt to remain at the head of CAN. According to Sun News:

Constitutionally, the contest for the Presidency of CAN is limited to members who are Spiritual Heads or Leaders not below the rank of a Bishop or its equivalent with not less than 15 years record with his church denomination.

Candidates for CAN Presidency must also represent one of the established five church groups.

However, the contest has turned into a battle of will as the incumbent, Right Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, allegedly changed the date of election to favour his candidacy.

The election of the National President of CAN is supposed to end with the ratification of one of the two candidates by the National Assembly of CAN after NEC must have voted in favour of the candidate.

The election of the two candidates who made the list of the Electoral College by the NEC of CAN was to take place on the 6th of July.

But Right Reverend Akinola, who is one of the two contestants and primate of the Anglican Church, is said to have rescheduled the election of CAN President back from the original 6th of July to the 19th of June when Onaiyekan is already scheduled to be in Rome attending a conference of World Catholic Bishops.

The Sun News report also includes criticism of Akinola’s relationship with Nigeria’s government:

“The truth is that this man [Akinola] did not represent CAN well while Obasanjo [Nigeria’s previous strongman] was there. He was not talking. If we now make him President and he now decides to talk, our Moslem brothers will say ‘Okay, you did not talk when your brother was there, why are you saying all these now?’

“The man CAN needs now is somebody who has been consistent, who the world knows speaks out when things go bad,” a PFN chieftain told Sunday Sun.

Angered by the humiliation of the church by Obasanjo while in Office, some members believe now is the time to brace up and defend the honour of the church.

In competition in the same mission field, it is not clear however that the Anglicans and Catholics are that far apart in terms of theology. See this Washington Post report.

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