Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says the presence of the presidential candidate of All progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, at the 70th birthday celebration of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, in Abuja, is not an endorsement of the party’s same faith presidential ticket.
CAN maintained its rejection of the Muslim-Muslim ticket ahead of the forthcoming presidential election.
However, to try to resolve the controversy caused by the ruling party’s nomination of a Muslim presidential candidate and a running mate of the same faith, the APC National Working Committee (NWC) concluded plans to embark on a tour of the six geopolitical zones before the official kick off of the 2023 general election campaigns on September 28.
CAN insisted it was wrong to interpret Tinubu’s presence at Kukah’s 70th birthday anniversary as a sign of recompense and change in CAN’s opposition to Muslim-Muslim ticket.
A statement signed by Special Assistant on Media to the CAN President, Luminous Jannamike, described as untrue and ridiculous insinuations that the new leadership of CAN might have soft-pedalled on opposition to the Muslim-Muslim ticket adopted by APC.
The association stated in the statement that its “attention has been drawn to a media report titled, ‘How Tinubu met, resolved Muslim-Muslim ticket with CAN’, which claimed that the apex Christian body has changed its position regarding the same-faith ticket.
“To say the least, the story is ridiculous, malicious, untrue and should be disregarded in its entirety by all reasonable members of the society.”
CAN said it took a position against the same-faith ticket imbroglio under the leadership of Rev. Samson Ayokunle, its immediate past national president, adding that his successor, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, still stood on that position. It said though it might not agree with every decision taken by politicians and political parties, it respected their right to reach conclusions on issues that affect their electoral fortunes so long as they accord with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the Electoral Act (2022).
The statement said, “For the umpteenth time, CAN reiterates that it is non-partisan, but remains willing to partner all leaders and other relevant stakeholders towards achieving unity, peace and progress in our nation.
“Consequently, the umbrella Christian organisation cannot be antagonistic to any well-meaning political party or group as the nation warms up for a fresh round of elections in 2023, as claimed in the said report.
“In the same vein, it strongly condemns the attempt to make a mountain out of molehill with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s presence at the 70th birthday celebration of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, in Abuja, the nation’s capital.”
CAN said the Kukah event was public and friends of the celebrant and other good-spirited Nigerians donated to the building of The Kukah Centre, designed to be a veritable platform to propagate and promote the ideals of democracy and responsible leadership through research and intellectualism.
Noting that the donations, which went directly to The Kukah Centre, had nothing to do with CAN, it said, “It is, therefore, mischievous to insinuate it was a sort of bribe money for Christian leaders to make a u-turn on its stance against same-faith ticket.
“As a faith-based organisation, CAN maintains that its conscience cannot be bought and its prophetic voice cannot be silenced with money.”
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