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A Dangerous Awakening

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Iheanyi M. Enwerem

Chapter Three

Origins of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)

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… What's more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time —
As calling borne our exil'd friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
(Macbeth, Act V, Sc. viii)

  • 1 . See O.U. Kalu, Divided People of God: Church Union Movement in Nigeria: 1867-1966 (Lagos: Nok Pub (...)

1There was a lack of national unity among the Christian Churches in the 1960s, although there was some interaction among them. This, however, remained sectionalized into three main blocs: the CCN in the South, the Christian Movement in the North, and the more cohesive and united Roman Catholicism whose highest national authority, the Catholic Episcopal Conference, met at least once a year and spoke with one voice. There was, of course, the obviously serious attempt made by the CCN towards a nationally unified Christian presence during the colonial period. But this could not succeed for three reasons.1 First, there was the absence of a commonly perceived national threat. Next, there was no sufficiently politicized religious leadership with a nationalist vision in any of the three Christian blocs. Furthermore, there were limitations imposed by the colonial administration on socio-cultural interaction among Nigerians from the South and the North.

  • 2 . World Council of Churches: The first six years, 1948-1954 (Report of the Central Committee); O.U. (...)
  • 3 . See the Constitution of the Christian Council of Nigeria (1949), Art. 2(b).

2At the international level, however, echoes of ecumenical relationships were already in the air. The emergence of the World Council of Churchea (WCC) is a good example here. Founded in 1948, as ‘an instrument whereby the churches may bear witness together to their common allegiance to Jesus Christ and cooperation in matters requiring united action’,2 it soon found favour with the Christian Council of Nigeria.3 The same ecumenical promptings were also felt at the international level within the Catholic Church — thanks to the historic Second Vatican Council (VAT II) which took place in the Catholic Church between 1962 and 1965. The impact of that Council was beginning to be felt when Nigeria found itself embroiled in civil war. As far as Nigerian Catholics were concerned, the demands and the atmosphere of the war largely affected the chances for an openness to an ecumenical relationship or even for the larger question of implementing the directives of the Council. Thus, the 1960s saw Nigeria largely untouched by the historic changes emanating from the Vatican Council.

The Embryonic Stage of CAN

  • 4 . E.M. Fashade, Report on the National Institute of Moral and Religious Education (Project T.I.M.E. (...)
  • 5 . N.U. Akpan, Making all things new: A valedictory address, ibid., p. 60.

3With the end of the Nigerian civil war in 1970, however, the climate was conducive to ecumenical interactions among the churches — thanks to the Federal Government's policy of ‘reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.’ The Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) seized the opportunity to impress itself positively upon Catholics, especially in the way the CCN helped to rehabilitate the mostly Catholic Igbo after the trauma of the war. This kind gesture by the CCN and the openness of the Catholics to interaction in accordance with the ecumenical imperative from the Vatican Council, as earlier noted, brought about the trust necessary for the two Christian groups to establish the first national ecumenical project in 1971 — the ‘National Institute of Moral and Religious Education,’ popularly known as ‘Project T.I.M.E.’ Its purpose was Teacher training in Moral (and Religious) Education', as the churches in Nigeria felt it important ‘to meet the crying need for the inculcation and improvement of moral and religious values in the lives of the youth of the nation.’4 The success of this co-operation was such that the two Christian bodies soon established another ecumenical body, the ‘Christian Health Association of Nigeria.’5 This was set up to co-ordinate the provision of medical facilities, especially drugs, donated to the Christian churches for their health care services in Nigeria. Apart from the activities of these two national ecumenical projects, the interaction among the Christian churches remained largely on a cautious note until the mid-70s when the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was formed.

The Events Leading to the Birth of CAN

4There are various accounts regarding the formation of CAN, depending on the regional and/or religious background of informants. Overall, however, one fact emerges from all the accounts: by the time CAN was formed, the Churches were psychologically ready for ecumenism.

5One variant of the account of the formation of CAN is given by D.D. Dodo, formerly the pro tem Secretary of the Benue State Branch of CAN. According to him:

  • 6 . Interview with D.D. Dodo, Abuja, November 5, 1990.

To a large extent, what is known today as CAN was started in the North by Christians who saw what the Sardauna was doing. He wanted to Islamize the North and the entire country. Therefore, Christians and even non-Christians in the North came together as a group to resist the Sardauna's mission.6

  • 7 . Interview with Rt. Rev. Peter Jatau, Kaduna, November 20, 1990.

6Rt. Rev. Peter Jatau, the Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna — the metropolitan headquarters of the Catholic dioceses of the North — and Chairman of CAN for the northern states, added further details.7 According to the Archbishop, CAN's origin took the following process:

  • 8 . ibid.

In 1965 or thereabouts, the Sardauna of Sokoto, who was the premier of the northern region, went about trying to Islamize people, especially in the northern region. So he became both a political as well as a religious leader. His effort at that particular time up to the time he was killed was geared towards converting people — be they Christian or pagan — to Islam. So he paid more attention to the conversion of people to Islam than actually running the state, if one may like to put it that way. Many people were afraid to oppose him, else they lost their position or even their job.
So because of the prevailing circumstances, some Christian leaders in the north at that time thought it wise to come together and find ways and means by which they can fight against this kind of move to forcefully make people Muslims. That gave birth to what we used to call in those days the Northern Christian Association (NCA), later changed to the Christian Association of the North (CAN). It was limited mainly to the north at that time.
Now CAN continued until the time the Sardauna was killed. The Association was successful in the sense that it helped many people to stand firm by their religious conviction and not give it up simply because of the fear of losing their job or their position. Hence, Christians in the North decided to continue to meet from time to time. Around 1975-76, during the Obasanjo… regime, things were happening in the country in such a way that Christians in Nigeria thought it would be a good thing for them as a body to have an organization that would bring them together to discuss and see in what way they can ensure that their rights are respected, and so on.
So, during such meetings, people began to ask what kind of name to give this kind of association. Those who went from the north to represent the northern states… had an association. It was formerly the Christian Association of the North. Now [the northern delegates said] if it is going to embrace the whole country why not make it ‘Nigeria’. So we all agreed to suggest the name. Of course the northern delegates did not say ‘do this’ in so many words during the meeting in Lagos. So names were brought forward and the name was suggested by the northern delegates… [It] was accepted and that gave birth to the Christian Association of Nigeria, or CAN.8

7Rt. Rev. Anthony Olubumi Okogie, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos and the current national President of CAN, describes another facet of the birth of the Association. According to him:

  • 9 . Interview with Rt. Rev. A.O. Okogie, Lagos, December 10, 1990.

The Christian Association of Nigeria, as the name connotes, is an ecumenical association which embraces three big blocs — that is, at the initial stage. You have the Catholics known as the CSN (that is, the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria), the CCN (the Christian Council of Nigeria), and OTHERS (that is, those that belong to neither the CSN nor the CCN group). The Association came up (was formed) for a purpose, that is, following these ecumenical movements and then the injunction from the Pope or from Rome that we should try and talk to our Christian brethren. That was [in light of] the Second Vatican Council. So, the Catholic Bishops felt that something just had to be done along that line. We put our heads together and we suggested linking with the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) ... to find the possibility of agreeing with the CCN. So we had a meeting [with the CCN] where there was an accordance and an agreement ... to move together. But no sooner had we come together than we discovered that there were other groups that were neither Catholics, that is, CSN, nor CCN. So if we really wanted to form a virile Christian Association — a united one — we had to think about them. And that's how we came to get… the group we named ‘Others’.9

  • 10 . ibid.
  • 11 . CO. Williams, Report of the General Secretary/Adviser on Education, in CO. Williams (ed.), op. ci (...)

8Mr. CO. Williams, currently the national Secretary-General of CAN, gives us a more detailed account of the birth of the Association. Being, himself, a long-standing activist for Christian unity in Nigeria in his capacity as the Secretary-General of the CCN, he is said to have ‘been involved since [CAN's] beginning.’10 According to him, it all started with a telegram which the CCN received towards the end of its general assembly held in Jos in August 1976 from the then Brigadier Shehu Yar'Adua, the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Military Headquarters, inviting church leaders to a meeting at Dodan Barracks — the seat of the military government.11

  • 12 . Telephone interview with CO. Williams, Toronto-Lagos, January 8, 1992.
  • 13 . CO. Williams (ed.), op. cit., p. 85.
  • 14 . CO. Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.
  • 15 . ibid.

9The meeting, which lasted ‘barely forty minutes’,12 turned out to be a gathering of Christian leaders of a large number of denominations.13 Present at that meeting were thirty-three church leaders from thirteen denominations, namely: Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, the African Church, Presbyterians, the Salvation Army, the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN), the Apostolic Church, United African Methodists (UAMC), the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), and the HEKAN churches.14 The church leaders who were present at the meeting [see appendix 2] had themselves recorded later as the ‘Foundation Members of the Christian Association of Nigeria.’15

  • 16 . See Shehu M. YarAdua, Religious and moral instruction in the education system of Nigeria and the (...)
  • 17 . CO. Williams (éd.), op. cit., p. 85.
  • 18 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991. 19.

10At that meeting with the church leaders, ‘the Chief of Staff read out an address16 which dealt with vital issues.’17 Mr. Williams did not elaborate on what these ‘vital issues’ were, except to say in effect that 'the Government was about to consult [the church leaders] on the “[National] Pledge” which was being recited in the schools and wanted to know [their] opinion.’18 Aimed at inculcating a combination of religious and political values in the youths of the nation, ‘the pledge’, as it came to be popularly known, read thus:

I pledge to Nigeria my country,
To be faithful, loyal, and honest,
To serve Nigeria with all my strength,
To defend her unity,
And uphold her honour and glory,
So help me God.

  • 19 . CO. Williams (éd.), op. cit., p. 85.

11Unprepared to give an impromptu response to the address, and apparently wanting to speak with one voice, the church leaders delayed their response and assured the Chief of Staff that a prepared rejoinder would be brought to the government at a later date.19

12Meanwhile, immediately after the meeting with the government, Mr. Williams stated:

  • 20 . The exceptions here were Rev. Dr. E.A. Dahunsi, Rev. J.A. Sholeye (who was to have formally repre (...)
  • 21 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

[The Christian leaders] suddenly had a brain wave and thought: if the Government could call the church leaders together, why is it that we could not call one another together; why should we wait for the Government to call the various denominations? So, we decided there and then to retire to a convenient spot — all the Church leaders. And the most convenient spot at that time was the Catholic Secretariat. So we all went there,20 and that was how we decided to form CAN. We did not plan it before, it just came about like that. Of course with the antagonism mounting against Christianity in the country, the formation came just at the right time.21

  • 22 . Williams telephone interview, January 8, 1992.
  • 23 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.
  • 24 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

13Elsewhere, C.O. Williams added that there were three meetings that followed the initial one with the government.22 These meetings were held at the Catholic Secretariat. The first was specifically for the church leaders to make arrangements for the writing of a fitting response to the government's address, which was presented to the Federal Military Government through Brigadier Yar'Adua on September 22, 1976. The delegation included: Rt. Rev. F.O. Segun (Anglican), His Grace Most Rev. Stephen Ezeanya (Roman Catholic), His Grace Most Rev. A.O. Okogie (Roman Catholic), Rev. Dr. J.A. Adegbite (Baptist), Rev. Dr. E.A.A. Adegbola (Methodist), Venerable Archdeacon E.O. Alayande (Anglican), and Mr. CO. Williams (General Secretary of the Christian Council of Nigeria).23 The church leaders assured the government that they would ‘raise no objection (to the National Pledge] provided that the normal assembly will take place [in such a way that] we salute God before we salute the flag or recite the pledge.’24

14Another participant at that meeting, Rev. Habila Aleyideino from the North, recalls a minor but very significant incident which apparently escaped Mr. Williams' attention and yet offers us a better account of the mind-set of the church leaders as they retired to the Catholic Secretariat. At the end of the meeting with the government, Aleyideino reported:

  • 25 . Cited from M.H. Kukah's interview with Rev. Habila Aleyideino on April 14, 1988. See Kukah, Relig (...)

One of our members asked that the participants at least round up the meeting with a prayer, despite the fact that the meeting had not opened with a prayer. Brigadier [Shehu] Yar'Adua, the host, and the Chief of Army Staff, said that, since there were various denominations, he did not know who could be called upon to lead the prayers. We were so worried that the government should make this observation about our not being united, so we decided that we must do something.25

15As it were, while the respective meetings had their pre-planned intentions, a different plan was in the making. As Mr. CO. Williams aptly put it:

  • 26 . CO. Williams (éd.), op. cit., p. 85.

The Holy Spirit had another plan… The Church leaders were destined to be founders of a very important Association, which by the grace of God will ultimately bring together into one fold all those who claim the fatherhood of God through Jesus Christ…. And so, what for many years appeared an impossibility — the coming together of the Roman Catholics and different shades of Protestants — became, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a simple, spontaneous, and effortless achievement.26

  • 27 . See CO. Williams, In: Order of Service of Inauguration of the Christian Association of Nigeria, L (...)
  • 28 . See Appendix, Nos. 2 and 3, for the list of those who were at these meetings.
  • 29 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

16Technically speaking then, CAN was born on 27th August, 1976, at the meeting held in the Catholic Secretariat by the Christian leaders which, as already noted, followed the meeting with the government.27 That is, the far-reaching decision to form a national Christian association was made on that date. The subsequent meetings after that date — to be precise, the meetings of September 7 and 8, 1976, were mainly directed towards working out the organizational modalities for the newly formed association. It was during these meetings,28 for instance, that issues like the name and the constitution for the association were sorted out and its pioneer officials were elected.29

  • 30 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.
  • 31 . ibid.

17The name of the association generated some lengthy but frank debate. This is clearly discernible from a close examination of part of the approved minutes of the church leaders' meeting, held in the Catholic Secretariat, on September 7-8, 1976, which dealt with choice of name.30 A sub-committee was set up on September 7, 1976, ‘to look into the matter’ regarding the name for the association. The sub-committee consisted of: Rt. Rev. F.O. Segun (Chairman), Bishop Alaba Job (Catholic Bishop of Ibadan), Bishop J.B. Pomoron, Archdeacon E.O. Alayande, Rev. Dr. J.A. Adegbite, Chief CM. Smith, Msgr. A.E. Obine, Col. Andrew Sawa, Rev. Dr. E.A.A. Adegbola, and Mr. CO. Williams.31 As can be expected in a meeting of this nature, several names must have been submitted for the sub-committee's consideration. For instance, as Archbishop Jatau recalls:

  • 32 . Nigeria's Christian Digest, interview with Archbishop Peter Jatau (Vol. 2, No. 6, April 1990), p. (...)

I remember that those of us who come from the north had already thought about a common name for Nigeria. So we said, instead of saying Northern Christian Association of Nigeria, why not say Christian Association of Nigeria, to embrace all of the country. Several other names were suggested by delegates from other states and even those from the north.32

18When the general meeting reconvened the following day, the issue of the name of the association was settled. The list of proposed names had been scaled down to two by the sub-committee, including the one suggested by the northern group. For, according to the same approved minutes of the two meetings:

  • 33 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992 (author's emphasis).

The meeting then turned its attention to a suggestion, made the previous day, for the formation of an association comprising as many Christian denominations as possible. The title suggested by the sub-committee set up to look into the matter was CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria). Another title, ICAN (Inter-denominational Christian Association of Nigeria) was proposed by the Chairman.33

  • 34 . Interview with Rt. Rev. J. Onaiyekan, Ilorin, April 22-23, 1991.
  • 35 . Interview with His Eminence, Dominic Cardinal Ekandem, Abuja, November 5, 1990.
  • 36 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.

19Further debate followed. There was strong feeling, especially among the Catholics, that the association should not bear a name that would suggest that one group joined the other or that one group was superior to the other.34 This insistence by the Catholics was not without some justification. It must be recalled that the CCN had a history of wanting to form a church union of all the Christian churches in Nigeria. Therefore, the Catholics wanted to leave no doubt as to where they stood on the matter. For them ‘the Association was never meant to be a church’,35 and Catholics were not prepared to allow the association to bear a name that would leave the public with a contrary impression, nor the impression that, by joining the association, Catholics were now in support of CCN's desire for a church union. It could also be that the Catholics made this insistence over the name in order to register their apprehension over, and to prevent, the possibility of being dwarfed by a formidable group of Protestant churches that made up the two blocs — the CCN and the Northern Christian Association — with which they were about to form the association. Be that as it may, by the time the participants were ready to vote, it was clear that CAN was the more popular name. Thus, it was adopted as the name for the association.36

  • 37 . As is suggested here, this Constitution is purely provisional since the new Association had to ha (...)
  • 38 . Here we refer, and subsequently in this chapter, to the provisional Constitution and not to its 1 (...)
  • 39 . Constitution of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Art. 2, p. 2.

20Besides the name, a provisional constitution for CAN37 also resulted from the meetings. The intention was to define, among other things, the nature and function of the association, as well as to clarify its membership.38 The association was defined as ‘a fellowship of Churches, working together to promote the glory of God by encouraging the growth and unity of the churches, and by helping them to salvation and all its fruits.’39

21Functions of the Association included the following:

  • to serve as a basis of [action for] the unity of the Church, especially as [intended] in our Lord's pastoral prayer: ‘That they all may be one’
  • to act as a liaison committee, by means of which its member churches can consult together and, when necessary, make common statements and take common action
  • to be a watch-dog of the spiritual and moral welfare [of] the nation
  • to propagate the Gospel
  • to promote understanding among the various people and strata of society in Nigeria40

22Membership in the Association comprised the following:

  • Churches which are members of the Catholic Church and the Christian Council of Nigeria.
  • Churches outside the Catholic Church and the Christian Council of Nigeria, provided that such Churches worship one God in the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; have established organizations; teach their members the Christian Way of life; and exercise Christian discipline and are prepared to work in co-operation with other member-churches of the Association.
  • Churches which have been recommended for membership by the Standing Committee of the Association and are acceptable to not less than two-thirds of the voting members of the plenary session at its regular meeting.41
  • 42 . Cited as published on CANs pre-1988 letterhead.
  • 43 . ibid.

23The groundwork for the new association included the selection of national officers to direct its affairs. The following individuals were chosen: (1) His Eminence, Dominic Cardinal Ekandem (Catholic) as the National President; (2) Reverend Habila Aleyideino (HEKAN Church, Kaduna) as the National Vice-President; (3) Monsignor J.N. Ogbonna (then Secretary-general of the Catholic Secretariat) as the National Treasurer; and (4) Reverend Dr. J.A. Adegbite (from the CCN group) as the National General-Secretary.42 The association's national trustees were the following: His Grace, Archbishop A.O. Okogie, Msgr. J.N. Ogbonna, Pastor I.G. Sapko, Mr. CO. Williams, and Chief CM. Smith.43 Except for the replacement of Msgr. J.N. Ogbonna with Reverend Fr. R.N. Anasiudu, following the former's death in early 1987, this pioneer group of officials piloted the association until a new set of officials was elected at the second plenary assembly of CAN, which was held in Kaduna on November 16-17, 1988.

  • 44 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.
  • 45 . Although CAN has no chronological record of the formation of its state branches, there is no evid (...)
  • 46 . Lagos Suite CAN, p. 6.
  • 47 . ibid.

24The first major directive issued by CAN was that a branch of CAN should be formed in each state.44 Following this directive, Sunday, April 23, 1978 stood out as a historic date in the development of CAN. Exactly at 5 p.m. in the Roman Catholic Holy Cross Cathedral, the Lagos State Branch of CAN was formally inaugurated. Thus Lagos won credit for being the first state in the federation to have a formal and publicly-declared association called CAN45 — thanks to the enthusiasm and leadership of Christian leaders like Mr. CO. Williams. The inauguration involved the active participation of eight Christian church groups: the Anglicans, the Celestial Church of Christ, the Salvation Army, the Cherubim and Seraphim Society, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Roman Catholics, and the Apostolic Church. The entrance and recessional hymns at the inauguration — ‘Stand up, Stand up, for Jesus’ and ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ respectively — were prophetic announcements of the militant posture which CAN soon assumed against what Mr. Williams perceived to be ‘the “principalities and powers”, whose mustered array is visible everywhere in this distracted universe of ours.’46 By the end of 1978, branches in ten of the then existing nineteen states of the federation had followed Lagos State's lead in carrying out CAN's directive.47

  • 48 . ibid.
  • 49 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

25At the national level, however, CAN was yet to be formally inaugurated. It was proposed that this be done on ‘Whit Sunday, 14th May, 1978, at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.’48 But this did not materialize until 1980, when the ‘ceremonial inauguration’ was actually carried out.49 It is not clear why the inauguration could not be held on the date initially proposed. One explanation could be that the various church leaders were preoccupied with the formation of branches in their respective states and therefore were unable to attend the national inauguration — a purely ceremonial though symbolic event. Not wanting to be embarrassed by a poor turnout for an event that was hoped to attract the participation of ‘representatives of churches throughout the federation’, the association had to wait for a better date. Another reason could have been that the leaders of CAN probably wanted to make sure they had the support of the majority of Christian churches in each state of the federation — support which would be clearly demonstrated by the inauguration of CAN in the state — before the association could formally announce itself to the nation.

26By the time CAN was formally launched at the national level, a number of events in the country forced the association to assume a more political character than it had initially anticipated. The various accounts of the birth of CAN should be subjected to closer scrutiny so as to bring into clearer focus their underlying interests and biases.

  • 50 . Interview with Rt. Rev. Titus Ogbonyomi, Kaduna, November 20, 1990.
  • 51 . Interview with Rt. Rev. Gabriel G. Ganaka, Jos, November 25, 1990.
  • 52 . Interview with Jolly Tanko Yusuf, Kaduna, January 11, 1991.
  • 53 . Except where indicated, the name The Eleven Northern States' will be retained throughout this boo (...)

27There are two variants in the accounts about the birth of CAN, one from the north and one from the south. The northern variant — best represented by Archbishop Jatau's account above — is more or less shared by Rt. Rev. T. Ogbonyomi,50 the Anglican Bishop of Kaduna and Chairman of the Kaduna State branch of CAN; Rt. Rev. G.G. Ganaka,51 the Catholic Bishop of Jos and Chairman of the Plateau State branch of CAN — a city known to be the hub of Christian resistance to Islam in the North — and J.T. Yusuf,52 currently CAN'S national Vice-President and coordinator for the entire northern zone or what the northern members of CAN prefer to call ‘the eleven northern states.’53 Except for minor emphases here and there by these individuals, their accounts, like Jatau's, cut across religious or denominational interests. But more importantly, each one of them traced the origin of CAN from its beginnings during the Sardauna days to when it was actually formed in Lagos in 1976. Thus, the northern variant is linked to, or seen as a continuation of, the Christian Association of the North the genealogy of which goes back to 1964 when Christians in the North confronted the Sardauna's Islamization campaigns.

28The northern variant claims that what Christians nationally saw as a need in 1976 was what church leaders in the North had already seen and were actually engaged in over a decade earlier. As Archbishop Jatau pointed out while stating the objective of CAN:

  • 54 . Jatau interview, November 20, 1990.

Now, what CAN was out to do for the then North is more or less the same thing that CAN should be doing for the whole of the Christian body in Nigeria. That is: to provide a forum where Christian leaders can come together to discuss their common problems and to see how they can get governments at Federal and State levels to respect the rights of Christians and to ensure especially in a secular state that no particular religious body is favoured as against the other. So… that is [CANs] aim in a nutshell.54

29S. Salifu, CAN's fiery Secretary for the eleven northern states, went on to observe:

  • 55 . Interview with Samuel Salifu, Kaduna, November 27, 1990.

Christian operation in the North was different from that in the South because the South was just mainly for Church Unionism [meaning CCN's attempt to form a Union Church] but the North saw the threat of the Sardauna's politics of Islam coming. So [the northern Christians] felt that, for anything that had to do with Government, the Christians of all denominations must come together and speak with a similar voice. So, usually [the Christian operation] was relatively strong in the North and a little weak in the South because the problems were different. Christian operations in both the North and the South did not actually link up properly until Babangida came.55

30From Okogie's and Williams' accounts, a southern variant of the formation of CAN is also clearly discernible. Their accounts favour a more proximate origin. The southern variant says little about the historical background that eventually metamorphosed into the present CAN — something the northern accounts never forget to highlight. The accounts by Okogie and Williams differ in terms of emphasis; while the prelate focused more on the organizational roots and a claim for a Catholic initiation, the more experienced ecumenical worker, Mr. Williams, attributed the origin of CAN to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, more than to any human initiative. In any case, whatever human element was involved in the birth of CAN — and obviously there was some — was traced by Williams to the government, and not to any particular church as Okogie claimed, although the churches, especially the Catholic Church, nursed the new association into maturity.

  • 56 . See No. 20 in Appendix 2.
  • 57 . Ganaka interview, November 11, 1990.
  • 58 . See the 1988 version of the Constitution of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Art. V., (...)

31Furthermore, it is worth noting that there were two significant oversights in the formation of CAN. First, there was almost no input by women, although they form the backbone of the membership of the churches. Mrs. R.F. Alao, who attended the meeting with the government, could not attend the inaugural meeting at the Catholic Secretariat where CAN was born, so the only input from women was from Sister Majella, the Irish missionary nun in the Catholic representation.56 Second, there were no insignia by which the association could be identified. However, this oversight appeared to have been noticed and rectified, as is clearly evident in the currently official version of CAN'S constitution. Rt. Rev. G.G. Ganaka, the Catholic Bishop of Jos, claimed to have ‘designed the coat-of-arms with the assistance of a Jos artist.’57 It consists of ‘two circles: the inner circle enclosing a map of Nigeria, in which is placed an opened Bible with a Cross in the background, the two circles containing the name of the Association and its motto.’58

  • 59 . Cf. Appendices 2 and 3.
  • 60 . See M.H. Kukah, op. cit., p. 70.
  • 61 . This is apparently because the Catholic Bishops are said to be, in most cases, the most visible p (...)
  • 62 . 2nd letter from CO. Williams to I. Enwerem, March 2, 1992.
  • 63 . See, for example, O.U. Kalu, op. cit., pp. 24-25, where he discusses the ethnic-based rivalry wit (...)

32Apart from the oversights above, there was one surprise discernible from the events that led to the birth of CAN. This was with regard to the unanimous election of the Catholic Bishop of Ikot-Ekpene, Rt. Rev. Dominic Ekandem (as he then was before he was made a Cardinal), as the National President of CAN. From all indications, he did not participate in any of the meetings leading to the formation of CAN nor was he among its ‘foundation members’;59 yet he was elected to lead the association. Notwithstanding this being a surprise, and recognizing that election for the national executive of the new association tended 'towards what one might call Catholic primacy60 rather than Protestant primacy,61 the choice of Ekandem was, consciously or unconsciously, a wise move on four counts, at least. First, his election, CO. Williams reasoned, was not only ‘because he was the head of the Catholic Church in Nigeria’ but was also ‘undoubtedly a tribute to the [Catholic] Church, from which, it is believed, all the other churches ultimately sprang.’62 Second — here we reason beyond Williams — coming from a rural-based diocese, Ekandem would, it was hoped, lead CAN towards the grassroots. Third, belonging to a minority ethnic group, he would, again it was hoped, save the association, right from its foundation, from any possible intrusion of the virus of ethnic politics or rivalry that exists between the major ethnic groups, and which, in the past, has been known to have filtered into the affairs of some churches.63 Fourth, and perhaps more importantly, Ekandem being an old man and perhaps the longest-serving prelate in the country, CAN wanted to utilize the wisdom that was expected to come with his age and experience — in the true traditional African sense — to win the respect of the public as well as those within the corridors of political power.

  • 64 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.

33Another oversight was that the leaders of some highly visible church groups were conspicuously absent at the August 27, 1976, meeting with the government. Here we are referring to the leaders of the old and the new pentecostal churches, like the Celestial Church of Christ and The Church of God Mission. In fact, the first obvious reference to them was when, as noted in the approved minutes of the September 7-8, 1976 meetings of church leaders at the Catholic Secretariat, attention was called to the need ‘for the formation of an association comprising as many Christian denominations as possible.’64 The most plausible explanation for the absence of this large segment of the Christian fold at that meeting with the government is that they were not invited to the meeting by the government.

34This observation leads us to a number of questions: Why was the government involved in the formation of CAN in the first place? In other words, What was the government's interest in calling the church leaders together and thus igniting the fire that became CAN? Was the desire to have the church leaders' input concerning the proposed ‘national pledge’ the real reason behind the government's willingness to work with the churches? Even if we were to accept that reason, one is puzzled as to why the government sought the church leaders' opinion at all — a move clearly out of character with the non-democratic nature of military regimes.

The Political Climate at the Birth of CAN

35Three facts which were emphasized in the preceding chapter are recalled here. First, there was a centralization of power in the Federal Military Government (FMG). Second, there was a successful consolidation of power at the centre by the Hausa-Fulani Islamic ruling class. Third, there was the self-imposed mission, on the part of the military class, to work for the unity of the nation. It is therefore our contention that it is within the complex interplay of these three realities that the government's turning towards the churches and, consequently, the emergence of CAN can be located. There are two plausible reasons for government's meeting with church leaders, namely: a ‘crisis-management’ and a ‘civil religion’ explanation. Both are related to the Muhammed/Obasanjo mission to erect a new Nigeria 'with immediate effect'. The rest of this chapter will focus on the two explanations and thus validate the assertion made.

The ‘crisis-management’ explanation

36The government's meeting with church leaders was aimed at avoiding a possible clash between Christians and Muslims within a polity that was potentially, if not already, on the verge of sliding into religious politics by the time of the Muhammed/Obasanjo era. But to understand this era, we need to look at the upsurge of religious interest which the nation experienced immediately at the end of the war. It has been said that the rise of religious movements often coincides with periods of great upheavals. In the same way, post-war Nigeria saw the emergence of many religious movements, most of which were oriented towards fundamentalism.

  • 65 . See Catholic Diocese of Jos, Contemporary Islam and Nigeria (Jos: Institute of Pastoral Affairs, (...)

37Within Islam, there emerged a reactionary group called the Muslim Students' Society (MSS). It was founded in Lagos in April 1954 by 20 Yoruba Muslim students. Its first president, Lateef Adegbite, is currently the national legal adviser to the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. The MSS is affiliated with the ‘World Assembly of Muslim Youth’, which was founded in 1972 under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC).65 Another Muslim group was ‘the people for the Removal of Innovation and the Erection of the Sunna’, known for short as Izala in the Hausa language. Founded by a former military officer, Malam Isma'ila Idris, the group attracted a wide variety of members. They included many of the northern-educated elite such as Mahmud Abubakar Gumi. As a revivalist movement within Islam, it is not only characterized by opposition to moderate Muslims, but it also does not, like the MSS, accept the Nigerian Constitution or the Federal Government, but instead has a firm belief in the ultimate establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria through a revolution similar to Iran's.

  • 66 . In Christian parlance, this is the belief in the outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit as it w (...)

38Within Christianity, post-war Nigeria saw the rise of revivalist or pentecostal movements,66 which were also on the rise in this period in the United States of America. Prominent among these movements were the Reverend Benson Idahosa's Benin-based the Church of God Mission; the ‘Odozi Obodo’ (the rehabilitator and cleanser of the town), which was based mainly in the south-eastern areas of the country; the Lagos based 'Deeper Life' ministry which was midwifed by the University of Lagos mathematics lecturer, William Kumuyi; and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement, to name a few.

  • 67 . The African Guardian, October 16, 1986, p. 17.
  • 68 . The African Guardian, September 5, 1988, p. 23.

39Except for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal group, which has largely remained within the fold of its parent church, most of the pentecostal churches have gone their own way to become, not only full-fledged independent churches but also multi-million naira enterprises. A good example here is the movement led by Reverend Idahosa, who, in defence of his top-of-the-line lifestyle, said that his ‘God is not a poor God’67 and whose Church grew from a small congregation with, as some say, ‘a paltry sum of N419 in 1975’, to what Idahosa described as ‘a multi-million naira project’ by 1988.68

40How did the Muhammed/Obasanjo regime react to the developments on the religious terrain? To begin with, it would seem that, over the years, the rise of religious revivalism — in Islam or Christianity — was not a matter of much concern to the government. It appeared that the government saw these religious tendencies within the context of individuals making religion into a business enterprise. Hence all that the government demanded was that individuals who wished to start any religious group apply to the Ministry for Internal Affairs for formal registration. Another factor was Nigeria's commitment to the United Nations' Universal Declaration on Human Rights which includes religious freedom. Thus, over the years, Nigeria had upheld these provisions constitutionally, more so in the light of the country's federalism. Furthermore, religious groups, especially those of the Christian faith, were not known to have been overtly engaged in politicization of their members to the extent of posing a threat to the peace and stability of the nation.

41All this was to change with the advent of the Muhammed/Obasanjo regime which replaced Yakubu Gowon's regime in the military coup of July 29, 1975. By this time the post-war religious movements had grown large enough to command public attention and displeasure. Take the latest pentecostal churches for example. Prior to the 1970s, there were religious movements in Nigeria whose origins were pentecostal and charismatic. Prominent among these were the Calabar-based Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, which was founded by Olumba Olumba Obu, alias OOO; the so-called Yoruba churches like the Cherubim and Seraphim; the Aladura; and Pastor Oschoffa's Celestial Church of Christ. The Celestial Church remained the most prominent pentecostal church in the seventies. There was also nothing unusual about the commercial character of these post-war pentecostal churches. After all, they were operating within a Nigeria that, by this time, as we indicated earlier, had been fully incorporated into the global capitalist system.

42What was new about the post-war pentecostal churches was their fundamentalism and their aggressive evangelistic character. Commenting on this development, J.H. Dandaura, a Christian leader, observed:

  • 69 . J-H. Dandaura, Winning Muslims or alienating them?, in CO. Williams (ed.), op. cit., p. 62.

I must say that we have done so much to injure [Muslim] feelings by making tactless utterances [about] their faith…. Much open-air preaching had been devised against the other religion rather than preaching Christ crucified and its demands on the Muslims.69

43Besides, the new churches posed a serious threat to the older and more traditional churches as many of their members were deserting them to join the new churches. Seen from a political perspective, the proliferation of these churches, at a time when similar religious fundamentalism was growing within the Islamic faith, reflected the instability in the country. In addition, the Nigerian populace was beginning to perceive the military as anything but a corrective agent — a point we shall discuss in greater detail later in this work.

  • 70 . See Peter B. Clarke and Ian Linden, Islam in Modem Nigeria: A study of a Muslim community in a po (...)
  • 71 . ibid.

44The revivalist groups, within both Islam and Christianity, perceived the nation's ills through the lenses of religious fundamentalism. In doing so, they blamed the enemy within (that is, those of their faiths who were seen as not living up to expectations) and the enemy without (that is, those who belonged to a different religion). The slogan ‘I have found it (Jesus)’70 which widely circulated in the country around the mid-70s provides an indication of how Christian fundamentalists perceived Yakubu Gowon's era and their expectations. The slogan either appeared to vie aggressively with its Muslim counterpart, ‘Islam Only’,71 or was a subtle criticism of those who, in the view of the Christian fundamentalists, claimed to be Christians but were far from living out their faith. Whatever is the case, a closer study reveals that, for the Christian fundamentalists, Gowon's era had become so morally bankrupt that its salvation, and that of the country, depended on a national and individual surrender to Jesus. In other words, the ills of the nation and the sufferings of the people — be they Muslims or even Christians — would remain unabated until either the nation or the people, or both, had found this ‘it’ (Jesus). As another of the fundamentalist slogans bluntly suggested: ‘Only Jesus Can Save’.

  • 72 . See Y.B. Usman, The Manipulation of Religion, pp. 82-85 (esp. p. 83).
  • 73 . ibid., p. 84.
  • 74 . Peter B. Clarke and Ian Linden, op. cit., pp. 136-138.

45The Muslims, however, perceived Gowon's era differently. In the mid-70s, the opposition to Gowon was acquiring a religious tone from the members of the northern Islamic ruling class which kept him in power, and whose interests he was no longer protecting, although they were influential and well entrenched, in his regime.72 Gumi's utterances revealed the fundamentalist dimension of that opposition. While he criticized the moral decadence of Nigerian society and almost explicitly portrayed Gowon's regime as anti-Islamic in nature,73 he did not spare his fellow Muslims either. In his view, they were desecrating themselves by interacting with Christians in the guise of either ecumenical dialogue or political expediency.74

46Given the preceding observations, Murtala Muhammed's regime arrived in a period of expectancy and promised to give the people what they wanted — a new lease of life, whatever this meant to the various interests in the polity. To prove his seriousness, he took his stand, as much against the corruption in the land, as against Gowon's failure or, at best, his tardiness in initiating policies aimed at a new Nigeria. Hence, the first action of the new regime was not only to clean up the civil service but also to announce the creation of new States and a drafting of a new constitution for the country. Muhammed's attempt to cleanse the nation of corruption even in high places pleased the people, irrespective of their religious affiliation — an indication of how unpopular Gowon's era had become. For the Christians, especially the fundamentalists among them, God was probably using an unbeliever, a Muslim, to cleanse the land; an action which they found to be reminiscent of Biblical times when God used the pagans — the Babylonians and the Assyrians — to bring the Israelites to order. For Islamic fundamentalists, Muhammed's ascendancy to power, he being a Muslim, was seen as a corrective to the nine years (1966-1975) of submission of the Muslim umma (community) to a Christian ruler (Yakubu Gowon) as well as an opportunity for the establishment of an Islamic order — a reference to the regime's proposal for a new constitution.

  • 75 . A.E. Ekoko and L.O. Amadi, Religion and stability in Nigeria, In: Nigeria Since Independence: The (...)

47The assassination of Murtala Muhammed, in the abortive coup of February 13, 1976, shocked the nation as much as it shattered the aspirations of those who had wished to channel his Muslim faith towards consolidating an Islamic order. In fact his death was given a religious twist. This was more so as the plotters of the coup came from the Middle Belt region — the traditional center of anti-Islamic politics in the North. To make matters worse, Muhammed's death attracted foreign interests which were ‘destabilizing influences of religious sentiments’. This was evident in the despatch to Reuters by its Chief correspondent in Nigeria, Colin Fox. According to the BBC's broadcast of his despatch, ‘communal violence had broken out over Muhammed's death in parts of the country.’75 In addition, Bala Usman reported:

  • 76 . Y.B. Usman, op. cit., p. 84.

When Murtala was assassinated… the Muslim World League, an agency of the Saudi Arabian Government, with which Alhaji Abubakar Gumi is closely associated, sent a message to the Nigerian Muslims for the loss of a Muslim leader, which was reported in the New Nigerian of 4th March, 1976.76

  • 77 . ibid.
  • 78 . CAN Northern Zone, Leadership in Nigeria (to date): An analysis (Kaduna: CAN Publicity, Northern (...)

48We are already aware, from the foregoing observations, of the existence of fundamentalist tendencies within Christianity, especially among the newly emerging pentecostal churches. Perhaps this is partly why they were apparently not invited by the Government to its August 27, 1976, meeting with church leaders. In the light of the religious interpretation of Muhammed's death, it would be dangerous to the continued existence of the nation if the Christian fundamentalists were to meet head-on with their Muslim counterparts. This would be especially so in the Nigeria of the mid-70s. The attack on the corruption and moral decadence of Gowon's regime by Muslim fundamentalists like Gumi ‘justified the mobilization of support for Gowon by his closest supporters in the regime on a Christian platform.’77 It was not mere coincidence that the only high-ranking military officer who was killed with Muhammed was the military Governor of Kwara State, Colonel Ibrahim Taiwo, a fellow Muslim. Incidentally he was the person Muhammed took to Mecca on his religious pilgrimage as Head of State. During that pilgrimage, the Nigerian flag, which had been lowered for the nine years Gowon (a Christian) was in power, was raised in Saudi Arabia.78

49In the light of the religious climate in the country, it could be expected that any responsible government would attempt to prevent or, at least, to minimize the possibility of religious conflict. In view of this, Obasanjo's government felt obliged to demonstrate a sense of respect for and trust in religious leaders, hoping that such a gesture would curtail the extremists among their followers. It is plausibly on this basis that Obasanjo's second-in-command, Yar'Adua, had to meet with church leaders, a meeting which gave birth to CAN.

The ‘Civil Religion’ Explanation

  • 79 . J.K. Olupona, Religion and politics, In: The Politicization of Society During Nigeria's Second Re (...)
  • 80 . As cited in ibid., p. 162.
  • 81 . Robert Bellah, American civil religion, In: Facing Up to Modernity, P. Berger, (New York: Harper (...)

50It is worth noting that the meaning of the term ‘civil religion’ is not always clear, even for sociologists.79 It is used here in the way the American sociologist, Robert Bellah, defined it: ‘a set of commonly held values which added up to a something that can plausibly be called religion.’80 These commonly held values, Bellah continues, are the ‘ceremonial, myths and creeds which legitimize the social order, unite the population and mobilize the society's members in pursuit of its dominant political goals.’81

  • 82 . J.K. Olupona, op. cit., p. 162.

51Along this line, Olupona argued that the political and religious events that took place in the first decade of Nigeria's post-colonial history gave rise to ‘a type of a national civil faith’. This provided a certain degree of socio-political cohesion in the Nigerian polity, and reached its height in the Muhammed/Obasanjo era.82 Our argument is that Shehu Yar'Adua's meeting with the church leaders, which led to the birth of CAN, was an attempt, on the part of the Obasanjo-led government, to forge religiously-based common values for the integration of the Nigerian polity with the regime's vision of a new Nigeria.

52We recall the enthusiasm with which Muhammed/Obasanjo's regime was welcomed by the Nigerian populace. The regime's style of leadership, and its mission to rebuild the nation along the lines of national unity founded on maximum participation, consensus, and orderly succession in political power, generated much public interest. People began to reflect on the country's ills and to propose solutions. One such proposal was that the government should back up its rhetoric with a firm and unequivocal ideological commitment. This proposal won the support of many and became so persistent that the government could not but issue a response. Thus, in his address at the opening session of the Constitution Drafting Committee in October 18, 1975, the Head of State, Murtala Muhammed, categorically stated:

  • 83 . Address by General Murtala Muhammed, the Head of the Federal Military Government, Commander-in-ch (...)

Since the inception of this Administration… there has been a lively debate in the press urging the introduction of one form of political ideology or another. Past events have, however, shown that we cannot build a future for this country on a rigid political ideology. Such an approach would be unrealistic. The evolution of a doctrinal concept is usually predicated upon the general acceptance by the people of a national political philosophy, and, consequently, until all our people, or a majority of them, have acknowledged a common ideological motivation, it would be fruitless to proclaim any particular philosophy or ideology in our constitution.83

  • 84 . See P.J. Ryan, Imale: Yoruba Participation in the Muslim Tradition (Montana, 1978), p. 211, as ci (...)
  • 85 . See New Nigerian, May 30, 1975.

53A close examination of the preceding statement reveals at least two undeclared reasons that could be behind the government's position. First, the call for a national ideology, to some extent, was reminiscent of the demand for a revival of Nigerian culture, and for a discussion about traditional Nigerian rituals and practices, which were widely discussed in the news in 1975. Many Christians and Muslims were offended by, and opposed to, a lot of things which were presented as examples of Nigerian culture.84 One Muslim scholar went as far as urging all Muslims in Nigeria to ‘disassociate themselves from [such things as] tended to recall pagan times’, which were ‘immoral, indecent, and absolutely opposed to Islamic doctrines.’85 It is most likely that the Head of State was alluding to this feeling when, in his speech, he mentioned ‘past events.’

54Second, there was the fact that those who were championing the demand for a national ideology were mostly those on the ideological left, socialists and Marxists, who left no doubt about their antipathy to what they saw as a prevalent capitalist system in the country. But Muhammed would have been committing ideological suicide if he had given in to this demand. It must not be forgotten that he clearly belonged to the military arm of the Hausa-Fulani Islamic class whose capitalist identification was never in doubt. In addition, he was an influential member of Gowon's government which was unequivocally capitalist-oriented. Furthermore, Muhammed was a major, if not the major player in the July 1966 military coup that brought Gowon into power. Muhammed's decision to take power back from Gowon was not because of any ideological shift on the part of Gowon but because Gowon was jeopardizing the interests, within the capitalist system, of those who put him in power. Muhammed's reference to a ‘rigid political ideology’, on which the country's future could not be built, clearly underlined his attitude towards the demand of those on the ideological left. He knew well enough what those on the ‘left’ had in mind: they wanted an opportunity to dethrone the existing capitalist order. Although Muhammed was not prepared to grant the demand for a national ideology, he was not oblivious of the need to present a vision different from that of the Left. Hence, he had to invoke terms such as ‘the evolution of a doctrinal concept’ and ‘a national political philosophy’.

  • 86 . See S.M. Yar"Adua, op. cit., pp. 2-3.

55But what did Muhammed mean by these terms and how would they evolve so that 'our people' would be motivated to adapt them as a first step for the proclamation of a ‘particular ideology in our constitution’? Muhammed did not live to answer these questions as he was assassinated a few months later. The answer was left for his deputy, General Olusegun Obasanjo, who succeeded him. In continuation of Muhammed's policies, Obasanjo remained committed not to impose an ideology on the country. He set out, however, to create the necessary steps that, he believed, would bring about a national political philosophy. But, recognizing the centrality of religion in the people's existential experience, Obasanjo, like his predecessor, realized that such a philosophy must be religiously based.86 Similarly, not unattentive to the contesting religious values in the country, Obasanjo believed that the national political philosophy had to be encapsulated and articulated in a religiously neutral and unifying context, in what sociologists would describe as a civil religion.

  • 87 . See New Nigerian, December 23, 1976, as cited in Peter B. Clarke/Ian Linden, op. cit., p. 141.

56Obasanjo, in our view, directed his ethico-political speeches to this end and enforced the adoption of the National Pledge, in primary and secondary schools, and thus had to meet with church leaders. The point to note here is this: the government recognized that no philosophy could be realistic, and therefore acceptable to the people, if it were not grounded on their religious sentiments. But, more pertinent to our argument, it is also within this context of wanting to forge a national political philosophy that Yar'Adua's meeting with church leaders can be better understood. A writer, a few months after the government's historic meeting with church leaders, advocated what we believe to be the most plausible reason behind the government's mission. It was an ‘Operation Moralize the Nation’, or what can be described as a civil religion. That is, a religious vision based on ‘bringing together all with religiolis sensibilities, Muslim, Christian, and traditionalist, in a national movement of moral revivalism.’87 It was out of this context that CAN was born. This was because, for the government to realize its goal of a national political philosophy through the avenue of civil religion, the support of the religious leaders — and in our case, the support of church leaders — was an absolute imperative.

57In summary, we wish to highlight two salient points that have emerged in the course of this chapter. First, the emergence of CAN was not from within, or by the initiative of, the Christian Churches themselves. Its birth was initiated from outside. To a large extent, the birth of CAN was induced, mainly because the Christian churches were ready for the birth — given the enthusiasm with which the initiation was welcomed — but they did not know how best to go about it until the government 'induced' them, as it were, to give birth to the Association. This point is confirmed by the Catholic Bishop of Ibadan, Rt. Rev. Alaba Job, who, in his analysis of the birth of CAN, went further to add:

  • 88 . Cited from M.H. Kukah, op. cit., p. 70.

The takeover of schools and other institutions of the voluntary agencies by the Federal Government had already created an atmosphere of social ecumenism among [the churches]. The formation of CAN was the case of driving the hawk before counting the chickens?88

58Second, CAN was born within the general context of a government struggling to forge some kind of new Nigeria which would be based on a civil religion, and with the ultimate intention of unifying a national polity riddled with a multiplicity of conflicting socio-political, religious, and even ethnic interests.

59What CAN turned into will be addressed later. In anticipation, it can be said that those who initiated CAN's birth — that is, the members of the military regime of the time — may now be blaming themselves, given the later activities of CAN. From this point of view, CAN is like a child who, initially, emerged as an unwanted pregnancy and, once born, demanded the same rights and privileges as the other children in the household.

Notes

1 . See O.U. Kalu, Divided People of God: Church Union Movement in Nigeria: 1867-1966 (Lagos: Nok Publishers Nigeria Ltd., 1978), pp. 16-23.

2 . World Council of Churches: The first six years, 1948-1954 (Report of the Central Committee); O.U. Kalu, op. cit., p. 11.

3 . See the Constitution of the Christian Council of Nigeria (1949), Art. 2(b).

4 . E.M. Fashade, Report on the National Institute of Moral and Religious Education (Project T.I.M.E.), In: Christianity In Such a Time As This, CO. Williams (ed.), (Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1980), p. 67.

5 . N.U. Akpan, Making all things new: A valedictory address, ibid., p. 60.

6 . Interview with D.D. Dodo, Abuja, November 5, 1990.

7 . Interview with Rt. Rev. Peter Jatau, Kaduna, November 20, 1990.

8 . ibid.

9 . Interview with Rt. Rev. A.O. Okogie, Lagos, December 10, 1990.

10 . ibid.

11 . CO. Williams, Report of the General Secretary/Adviser on Education, in CO. Williams (ed.), op. cit., p. 85.

12 . Telephone interview with CO. Williams, Toronto-Lagos, January 8, 1992.

13 . CO. Williams (ed.), op. cit., p. 85.

14 . CO. Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.

15 . ibid.

16 . See Shehu M. YarAdua, Religious and moral instruction in the education system of Nigeria and the place of nationalism in nation building (Lagos: Federal Ministry of Education, 24th August 1976).

17 . CO. Williams (éd.), op. cit., p. 85.

18 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991. 19.

19 . CO. Williams (éd.), op. cit., p. 85.

20 . The exceptions here were Rev. Dr. E.A. Dahunsi, Rev. J.A. Sholeye (who was to have formally represented Rev. Dr. E.A. Sholeye), Archdeacon B.A. Adelaja, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, and Mrs. R.F. Alao, who, according to CAN'S records, ‘could not attend [this] inaugural meeting’ (see Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992).

21 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

22 . Williams telephone interview, January 8, 1992.

23 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.

24 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

25 . Cited from M.H. Kukah's interview with Rev. Habila Aleyideino on April 14, 1988. See Kukah, Religion and politics in northern Nigeria, p. 69.

26 . CO. Williams (éd.), op. cit., p. 85.

27 . See CO. Williams, In: Order of Service of Inauguration of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Lagos State Branch (Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, 23rd April 1978), p. 6 (hereafter cited as Lagos State CAN).

28 . See Appendix, Nos. 2 and 3, for the list of those who were at these meetings.

29 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

30 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.

31 . ibid.

32 . Nigeria's Christian Digest, interview with Archbishop Peter Jatau (Vol. 2, No. 6, April 1990), p. 6.

33 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992 (author's emphasis).

34 . Interview with Rt. Rev. J. Onaiyekan, Ilorin, April 22-23, 1991.

35 . Interview with His Eminence, Dominic Cardinal Ekandem, Abuja, November 5, 1990.

36 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.

37 . As is suggested here, this Constitution is purely provisional since the new Association had to have some kind of legal document to define its identity and mission and to guide its internal operations. It is worth noting that there has now been in circulation since 1988 a revised copy of the provisional Constitution. This is currently used on an experimental basis. As of 1990, there was still no document that could rightly be taken as the constitution for the Association.

38 . Here we refer, and subsequently in this chapter, to the provisional Constitution and not to its 1988 revised version.

39 . Constitution of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Art. 2, p. 2.

40 . ibid., Art. 3.

41 . ibid., Art. 4.

42 . Cited as published on CANs pre-1988 letterhead.

43 . ibid.

44 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

45 . Although CAN has no chronological record of the formation of its state branches, there is no evidence, so far, to disclaim the assertion made here about Lagos State CAN.

46 . Lagos Suite CAN, p. 6.

47 . ibid.

48 . ibid.

49 . Williams interview, April 26, 1991.

50 . Interview with Rt. Rev. Titus Ogbonyomi, Kaduna, November 20, 1990.

51 . Interview with Rt. Rev. Gabriel G. Ganaka, Jos, November 25, 1990.

52 . Interview with Jolly Tanko Yusuf, Kaduna, January 11, 1991.

53 . Except where indicated, the name The Eleven Northern States' will be retained throughout this book. This is because, as of the time of writing, the name is yet to be changed to take cognizance of the newly created states in the country.

54 . Jatau interview, November 20, 1990.

55 . Interview with Samuel Salifu, Kaduna, November 27, 1990.

56 . See No. 20 in Appendix 2.

57 . Ganaka interview, November 11, 1990.

58 . See the 1988 version of the Constitution of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Art. V., p. 1.

59 . Cf. Appendices 2 and 3.

60 . See M.H. Kukah, op. cit., p. 70.

61 . This is apparently because the Catholic Bishops are said to be, in most cases, the most visible prelates in the country — a perception which may not be unconnected with the fact that the local Catholic bishops are often the chairmen of the State branches of CAN. See ibid., p. 83 (footnote no. 134).

62 . 2nd letter from CO. Williams to I. Enwerem, March 2, 1992.

63 . See, for example, O.U. Kalu, op. cit., pp. 24-25, where he discusses the ethnic-based rivalry within the Methodist Church.

64 . Williams' letter to I. Enwerem, January 15, 1992.

65 . See Catholic Diocese of Jos, Contemporary Islam and Nigeria (Jos: Institute of Pastoral Affairs, 1989), p. 29.

66 . In Christian parlance, this is the belief in the outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit as it was experienced on the day of Pentecost by the early apostles of Christ. Prominent among these manifestations were speaking in tongues, prophesying, healing, and seeing visions.

67 . The African Guardian, October 16, 1986, p. 17.

68 . The African Guardian, September 5, 1988, p. 23.

69 . J-H. Dandaura, Winning Muslims or alienating them?, in CO. Williams (ed.), op. cit., p. 62.

70 . See Peter B. Clarke and Ian Linden, Islam in Modem Nigeria: A study of a Muslim community in a post-independence state, 1960-1983 (Mainz: Grunewald, 1984), p. 135.

71 . ibid.

72 . See Y.B. Usman, The Manipulation of Religion, pp. 82-85 (esp. p. 83).

73 . ibid., p. 84.

74 . Peter B. Clarke and Ian Linden, op. cit., pp. 136-138.

75 . A.E. Ekoko and L.O. Amadi, Religion and stability in Nigeria, In: Nigeria Since Independence: The first twenty-five years, Vol. DC, J.A. Atanda et al. (eds.), (Ibadan: Heinemann, 1988), p. 119.

76 . Y.B. Usman, op. cit., p. 84.

77 . ibid.

78 . CAN Northern Zone, Leadership in Nigeria (to date): An analysis (Kaduna: CAN Publicity, Northern Zone, n.d.), pp. 13-14.

79 . J.K. Olupona, Religion and politics, In: The Politicization of Society During Nigeria's Second Republic, 1979-1983, S. Gbadegesin (ed.), p. 161.

80 . As cited in ibid., p. 162.

81 . Robert Bellah, American civil religion, In: Facing Up to Modernity, P. Berger, (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), p. 150.

82 . J.K. Olupona, op. cit., p. 162.

83 . Address by General Murtala Muhammed, the Head of the Federal Military Government, Commander-in-chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, at the opening session of the Constitution Drafting Committee on Saturday, 18th October, 1975 in the Report of the Constitution Drafting Committee Containing the Draft Constitution: Vol. I (Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information, 1976), p. xliii.

84 . See P.J. Ryan, Imale: Yoruba Participation in the Muslim Tradition (Montana, 1978), p. 211, as cited in P.B. Clarke and Ian Linden, op. cit., p. 140.

85 . See New Nigerian, May 30, 1975.

86 . See S.M. Yar"Adua, op. cit., pp. 2-3.

87 . See New Nigerian, December 23, 1976, as cited in Peter B. Clarke/Ian Linden, op. cit., p. 141.

88 . Cited from M.H. Kukah, op. cit., p. 70.

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