US-based Nigerian Christians have decided to form a pressure group in America to advance the interests of the Nigerian immigrant community and their homeland-Nigeria. And their first concern is how to bring an end to the Boko Haram violence in parts of the country.
“Our lights will no longer be hidden again,” according to Dr. James Fadele, a senior pastor and the Chairman of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in North America, which denomination alongside several others in the United States is now mobilizing other Nigerian churches, pastors, leaders and Christians to come together.
Empowered Newswire reports that already about 10 Nigerian denominations in the US have either registered their support for the group, or indicated same. An impressive meeting was held during the week in New York where it was agreed that all Nigerian Christians in the US should form an association to be called Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN.
The denominations and their heads in the US, apart from Fadele of the RCCG in North America, who were at the New York meeting are New Covenant Church led by Archbishop Joseph Alexander, Jubilee Christian Church led by Dr Olabisi Tofade, and Dr. Olufemi Alabi of the Bethel of Praise Ministries.
Other denominations with senior pastors and leading church members at the meeting include the Catholic Church, Christian Apostolic Church, CAC, Celestial Church of Christ, CCC, while the Nigerian Anglicans, Winners Chapel and Christ Life Ministries pastors and leaders have also indicated their support for CANAN. Outreach efforts to bring in more Nigerian Christians and churches are said to be ongoing.
In fact CANAN now plans toform regional chapters in leading cities across the US until the entire country is covered.
Sources close to the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN also disclosed that the President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor is already aware of the new group and has already conveyed his delight to the promoters of the idea, which include leading Nigerian pastors and overseers.
Indeed, it was learnt that during Pastor Oritsejafor’s presentation in July before the US Congress on Boko Haram, he was asked by some of the American law-makers whether there were Nigerian Christians in the USA, since their voices have not been heard regarding the violence and terrorism being meted out against fellow Christians and other Nigerians especially in the northern part of Nigeria by Boko Haram.
On return home the CAN president reported the situation to some of the very prominent Nigerian heads of denominations, who in turn decided to actively support the plan that has led to the formation of CANAN.
Calling it “a heart-warming proposal,” Archbishop Joseph Alexander, of the New Covenant Church in New York, perhaps one of the longest surviving Nigerian pastors in the US, noted that time was very ripe for such an association to be formed to represent Nigerians here in the US and influence the progress, peace and unity of Nigerians at home.
At the inaugural meeting of the association in New York a substantial amount of money was raised and pledged on the spot to support the organization, while additional plans and resources had also been set aside to take care of the renumeration of the secretariat staff of CANAN, now based in New York.
According to CANAN vision statement, the association is “to be the leading voice of Nigerian-American Christians and their immigrant communities within and outside the United States of America, advancing their interests, views and causes.”
In its mission statements, it was noted that CANAN will pray and advocate vigorously “for the upliftment of Nigerian-Americans and their immigrant communities in the US and work to marshal their influence in a widely diverse nation and the world for the purpose of promoting peaceful co-existence among all people regardless of religious convictions.”
Members of the Association at their New York inaugural meeting said CANAN’s first assignment is to start a campaign on the Boko Haram violence, working with the US and Nigerian governments to seriously consider strong and effective measures that will bring the killing and terrorist activities to an end.
Already some US Congress members have set appointment with the leaders of the new association.
CANAN sources say plans are ongoing to complete the formation of a board of trustees to govern the association. While the process for electing trustees for the association has not been completed, some of the Board have already been elected at the New York meeting earlier this week.
Those already named include Pastor James Fadele, who will chair the board, Archbishop Joseph Alexander, Pastor Olabisi Tofade of the Jubilee Christian Church, Pastor Timothy Agbeja from the CAC, former World Bank Vice President for Africa, Oby Ezekwesili, leading Nigeria professor in New York, Prof Ebere Nduka and Beatrice Hamza-Bassey, a Nigerian partner at a one of the oldest American and international law firm based in New York, and Pastor Joe Takon and Enefaa Korubo, among others.
A leading US-based journalist and pastor, Mr. Laolu Akande is also among the elected trustees and has been named the Executive Director of the association.
Several US-based Nigerians at the New York meeting expressed the readiness to “speak up ” on behalf of the Christians who were being persecuted in Nigeria. It was clear that most of them had reached the point where they believe that enough is enough, according to Emma Ogebe, a US-Nigeria law expert who was also at the meeting.