The Northern Christian Association of Nigeria, otherwise called Northern-CAN is scheduled to meet in Jos, the Plateau State capital in central Nigeria. The two day meeting begins next Friday, August 26th, 2016. Intervention understands that four key issues will pre-occupy the meeting. These are the herdsmen-farmers conflict across the country, the need for unity in Nigeria, governance and Christians and, finally, praying for Nigeria.
It was equally understood that the herdsmen-farmers conflict is top of the agenda because the association has found that many farmers are no longer going to the farms for fear of attack. It, therefore, plans to explore collaboration with other religious groups on how to intervene in ending the violence in the northern part.
The meeting has, however, been planned long time ago and has nothing to do with split in the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN). In other words, the Northern CAN is completely different from those described as concerned Christians currently protesting certain developments in the larger body. Intervention was told that Northern CAN has always been there since April 1964, more than a decade before CAN was born following an incident at a meeting in Dodan Barracks, Nigeria’s seat of government in 1976. A narrative of the incident has it that in the aftermath of the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, the Federal Government was reaching out to various interest groups to prevent mischief makers from fanning the embers of religious discord. Christian leaders were among the interest groups but at the meeting with them, presided over by Brigadier Shehu Yar’Adua, the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, there was no Opening or Closing prayers. In response to the protest of the Christian leaders thereto, General Yar’Adua reportedly said he did so because he did not want to step on the sensibility of any identities internal to Christianity – Catholics, Anglicans, Methodist, Baptists, etc. Thereafter, the Christian leaders went to confer to work on coming out with an organisation that would speak for Christianity with one voice. Subsequently, CAN was born.
But by 1976, Northern CAN had already been in existence for over a decade, having been formed in 1964 to articulate Christian interests in the region. This meeting being held in Jos was explained in terms of the imperative of spreading such events to other cities rather than concentrating everything in Kaduna.