…Over sharing formula
By Sonia O’ Abah
Once upon a time the Christina Association of Nigeria (CAN) was synonymous with integrity and decorum. In those days when the likes of the then Methodist Church prelate, Sunday Mbag, and his Catholic Church counterpart, Bishop Okogi, took turns to preside over the affairs of CAN, this Body of Christ’ was the quintessential socio-religious crusader, leading the way in the crusade against lousy leadership, corruption and moral decadence.
That, however, was then. In the context of the incumbent CAN leadership under the watch of certain Pastor Ayo, integrity and decorum seem to have been thrown to the dogs. In the place of such virtues, the god of mammon (as in filthy lucre) seems to have been enthroned on CAN’s otherwise hallowed throne. Little wonder, CAN’s can of worms has been popping open in quick succession lately.
It would be recalled that no sooner had controversy erupted over the acquisition of a multi-billion naira private jet by the incumbent CAN president than the same “private” plane became enmeshed in a monumental money laundering melodrama in South Africa. The owner’s excuse? He had conveniently hired his supposed private plane to a third party for commercial errands, who in turn apparently used it to ferry the alleged stolen funds to South Africa under the cover of arms purchase.
Even as the dust raised by that unprecedented scandal (at least by CAN’s standards) is still swirling, the leadership of this hitherto highly respected outfit has found itself embroiled in another mess. This time around accusations and counter-accusations of collecting a whooping N6 billion bribe from the presidency apparently to curry votes for President Goodluck Jonathan in the forthcoming presidential poll. This has put CAN on the spotlight for the wrong reasons, for the umpteenth time within a relatively short period.
The lid was blown of this alleged corruption by the governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi. According to him, the Goodluck administration had funneled the N6 million bribe to CAN leaders principally for them to wage an anti-Buhari campaign ahead of the March 28 Presidential Poll Specifically, the Christian clerics were allegedly to use the slush fund to tar Gen. Mohammed Buhari, the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) with the brush of Anti-Christian Phobia, claiming that he would Islamize Nigeria and implement Sharia if voted into power.
Even as the CAN leadership labored to extricate itself from this mess, a curious angle was added. The actual amount involved claimed a Borno State Pastor, Kallamu Dikwa, was N7 billion and not N6 billion as quoted by Governor Amaechi. Hear him: “it was N7 billion that was given to the CAN by President Goodluck Jonathan. The (CAN) later disbursed N3 million each to the state Chairman of the CAN. The money was handed over to the CAN leadership on January 26. This is what I know. One of the CAN officials from Abuja told me that (indeed) they have collected the money”.
No less curious was the new angle added by the Cross-River State Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Emma Isong. According to the PFN chieftain, Governor Ameachi had allegedly bribed 500 Nigerian Pastors in October 2014 with a view to getting their support for APC. Not a few people found it odd that a cleric of such stature found it expedient to hoard such a weighty piece of information for so long – if indeed his claim is true, that is.
Interestingly, aside from calling Pastor Kallamu Dikwa names and raining curses on him the CAN leadership has scarcely come clean on the matter. According to inside sources, Dikwa, who is the Executive Director of the Voice of Northern Christians Movement, has started making efforts to gather evidence with a view to naming the specific CAN leaders who allegedly enjoyed the presidential largess.
“When it dawned on those concerned that the man of God (Dikwa ) is hell bent on gathering incriminating evidence against them (CAN leader) with a view to blowing the whistle, they first tried to intimidate him, then resorted to pleading,” the source who spoke in confidence, squealed. “They even hinted darkly that if he cooperates with them he would be rewarded handsomely, but he told them to go to hell”.
DESERT HERALD gathered that ever since the lid was blown off the N6 billion “CAN of worms”, the centre can no longer hold in the umbrella union of Christians. Things are said to be falling apart at CAN as suspicions, accusations and counter-accusations as well as recriminations reportedly reign supreme. Feeling short – changed in the multi-billion bribe – for – vote scandal, many CAN chieftains are reportedly baying for the blood of those perceived to have robbed them of their portion.