Activist pastor, Tunde Bakare, has hit back at the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for its attack on former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai for re-tweeting a Jesus joke that sparked a huge controversy.
Speaking during the State of the Nation address at his church on Sunday, Mr. Bakare, a pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, said CAN was "feeding on mass neurosis and widening the gap between people of different faiths in our country" by referring to the former minister as a bigot.
Mr Bakare, who sees nothing wrong in the tweet which he described as "figurative", said CAN by its selective attack on Mr. El-Rufai who is a Muslim, only confirms the accusation by the Catholic Church that CAN had become a tool in the hand of government.
"It is rather unfortunate that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that should bring understanding to the simple on matters like this has chosen to confirm its description by the Catholic Church as an arm of the government in power by fanning the propaganda of agents of the administration that Nasir El-Rufai is a "bigot" for a statement that did not originate from him and whose meaning should be clear to a non-mischievous person."
Mr Bakare further suggested that CAN's reaction, coming after the former minister had apologised, is un-Christian:
"It must be pointed out that CAN's bellicose posture came after El-Rufai publicly apologized for the re-tweet. Jesus Christ, who asked the Father to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross when they didn't even acknowledge they did anything wrong, must be wondering what those who are supposed to be His servants are doing in His name to a man who asked for forgiveness."
He described CAN's silence on the revelation by a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, that the present administration had squandered the country's foreign reserve and excess crude account savings, as "sinful".
Speaking on the withdrawal of the Catholic Church from CAN at the national level, he described the argument by CAN's leadership that the Catholics pulled out because they lost the election to a Pentecostal pastor as "shallow."
He continued, "Let's have a roll call of past CAN Presidents to debunk this flimsy assertion:
1. The Founding President of CAN: Eminence Dominic Cardinal Ekanem of the Methodist Church. Neither the Catholics nor any other group withdrew during his tenure;
2. He was succeeded by Bishop Olubunmi Okogie - a Catholic. No group withdrew during his tenure;
3. Followed by Sunday Mbang of the Methodist Church - the Catholics did not withdraw, nor did any other group;
4. Then Jasper Akinola of the Anglican Church - No withdrawals;
5. Then John Onaiyekan - a Catholic. No group has ever withdrawn."
"Indeed we have "promoted" men into leadership positions both in the Church and the nation beyond their mental capacities and the incompetence are now very glaring to the whole world except the leaders themselves, or how do you categorize our using ring worm medicine to cure leprosy?"
"The reason the Catholic bloc gave for their withdrawal - namely that "CAN is being dragged into partisan politics thereby compromising the ability to play its true role as the conscience of the nation and the voice of the voiceless" was never addressed - rather the shallow response of their losing election to one of us became "the badge of honour" we wear on our oversize Episcopal garments. Shame! Big Shame!!"