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PFN/CAN: Our room, Our house, Our City. 

by Church Times

By: Bolaji O. Akinyemi

It was Archbishop Benson Andrew Idahosa one of the founding fathers of Pentecostalism in Nigeria in those days of building relevance for the movement in Nigeria who sent a message to former President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, saying, tell Babangida if we can’t build Nigeria together, we can burn it together!
Pragmatism is at the soul of every successful nation-building project. Our multi-ethnic, multi-religious nature demands the same. We must know when to let go of our sentiments for nationhood and when to invest our biases for our common blessings.
 On another occasion, the late Archbishop said, “We have come a long way together, we have blamed ourselves enough, we have complained enough, we have cried enough, we have fought ourselves enough, we have hated ourselves enough. It is time to do what the Bible says. Let us rise and build!
I will no longer complain but will henceforth be a man who brings solutions!”
Pragmatism has marked my operation in the space; complaining and proferring solutions.

A committed Pentecostal

I am a Pentecostal without apologies. We are occupiers with CPFN in the room of faith, tenants with other Blocs in the house of CAN, citizens with others in the City and State of Lagos, and Patriots we must remain in a Country we all must build into a nation or we shall perish fanning the embers of our different fires!
The resolve to see Nigeria built through all the demographies earlier mentioned informed All Pentecostal Stakeholders meeting. We are often hailed by many for our tenacity to truth and conscientious commitment to our Country.
But all this is at a great cost, unfortunately, our style is not attractive to politicians for patronage, and paucity of funds is often a regular challenge, for God’s faithfulness, we are kept, and brought this far!
When the urgency to create a platform of expression for nonpoliticians in PFN became the need, the paucity of funds again was the challenge. Many thanks to Bishop Dr P.J Ighalo Edoro who supported us to see the event behind us.

Stakeholders meeting

State of Our State (Lagos); a special All Pentecostal Stakeholders meeting was convened through our signature forum named ‘Apostolic Round Table’ and hosted by The Senior Pastor of A Torch From Heaven Ministry, Bishop Joe Ighalo.
As expected frayed nerves went off. Ighalo was the first to express the minds of many non-political kingdom stakeholders. He warned the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop Steven Adegbite to steer clear of the internal affairs of the state’s chapter of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN).
Bishop Ighalo stated this at our press briefing on Tuesday titled: “State of Our State; Our Stand” in Lagos.
Ighalo said that the Bishop Adegbite-led Lagos chapter of CAN should not bring politics into  kingdom matter, especially when it has to do with the Lagos State chapter of PFN.
According to the cleric, there is no doubt that CAN is the umbrella body of PFN but that the body should be allowed to handle its internal affairs.
“Why would you want to destroy PFN and keep CAN going? this is against the mission of the founding fathers of the PFN,” he said.

The election issue

It would be recalled that the issue between CAN and PFN began when the national body of the PFN failed to ratify the election of Rev. Toyin Kehinde, the acclaimed winner of the February 5, 2024 Lagos PFN Chairmanship election.
Many got to know of the election through the congratulatory message issued by Adegbite in the media. How can such level of election be kept secret from critical leaders within the system they are meant to lead?
Chapter Chairmen were not aware, Provincial Chairmen were uninformed, and even many members of the State Exco were hearing of the election from the publication credited to the CAN Chairman.
We aren’t saying we should be part of the election. But at least we could wait in prayer as the election goes on. This would have saved us from what we are plunged into by the South West PFN Secretariat headed by Archbishop John Alagbala Osaoni.

Publicity harassment

The publicity harassment targeted at PFN National Exco by the Lagos State CAN Chairman, however, failed as the national body did not ratify the election as it said that there were anomalies in the process.
Again, the Lagos CAN Chairman; Bishop Adegbite was the first to hit the media in protest against the development when many stakeholders were yet to be informed which prompted Bishop Ighalo to say that CAN does not have any constitutional rights or power over PFN and warned that they should not interfere with the affairs of the PFN!
Ighalo stressed that the office of the PFN President is a papacy influence in the Pentecostal circle and no true Pentecostal must allow the office to be insulted.
Uncanny elements who could curse the church if they fail to support their political leaders are calling us out to be disrespectful to our spiritual leaders and we saw nothing wrong with that! In the words of Bishop PJ; are we ok?
We are not unaware of the blessings that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been to many a Father in the body of Christ when he was the Governor of the State, Archbishop John Alagbala Osaoni and many like him may owe him. But PFN shouldn’t be their payback.

CAN overstepping its bound

As Christians leaders submission to constituted authority should be our watchword watch CAN in Lagos State calling out the National Exco of PFN led by Bishop Wale Oke by the South West Secretariat for whatever reason is unacceptable.
The looking away of the South West Secretariat of PFN is grossly responsible for the fragmentation of the Body in Lagos State. The bond of agreement between South West Secretariat and CAN Lagos State is unfortunately inimical to the health of Christ’s body in the State.
Dr Toyin Kehinde is a man, I Bolaji O. Akinyemi will die respecting. But let me offer a word of counsel. if the leadership of the next PFN chairman is being championed by tribal bigots. Then it has failed before it ever starts!

Media parley

During the media questioning session, the publisher of Christian Benefits; a Pentecostal stakeholder by all standards alluded to the divisive nature of the Person of the CAN Chairman and his collaborators in PFN.
According to him, their only purpose in the body is partisan politics. They have come this far because we gave them the opportunity of a handshake which has now become an embrace but it isn’t too late to demand purity in politics!
Chris Irekamba of the Guardian Newspaper asked the question; What is the sin of Adegbite? Ambassador Ayo Akintayo, Publisher of the Three Arms News took the floor and volunteered his expertise as an adjudicator to activate a peace process in the interest of the kingdom.
I was  “wowed” by his contribution, and I drew the curtain on further questions and contributions. It was agreed that a Pentecostal Stakeholders’ Peace Committee, PSPC  be formed to reach out to the parties concerned.

Apostle Dave Odi

Just when the meeting was dispersed, Apostle Dr. Dave Odi came in, and since a handful of pressmen were still around. He took the opportunity to speak with them. He said he saw the notice of meeting online and for my integrity and contribution to the church in Nigeria, it was worth attending. “That’s actually why I came,” he said.
The Senior Pastor of Agape Worship Center, Ojodu Lagos, Dr. David Odi said that as far as he was concerned, Lagos State is one of the most organised states in Nigeria in terms of economy, leadership, and ministry, adding that this must be respected.
Dr Odi noted that those who are behind the issue are trying to create a crisis that doesn’t exist so that whoever is voted into office would owe them allegiance.
“There’s no fight or crisis in Lagos PFN. I don’t even know any other person who is interested in the position,” Dr Odi said.
The cleric said that he believed that the current chairman of the Lagos State chapter of PFN has served his term and is on his way out and that Rev Kehinde is not dragging the position with anybody.
“I don’t know any other person that is being fielded for the position.
“People behind the crisis are those who have peculiar interest in filthy lucre that the Bible talked about. Some people are driven by hunger for money. They are doing this because of the 2027 general elections in the nation,” he said.
According to Dr Odi, some people want to make Pastor Kehinde believe that they fought for him to get into the office.
He, however, said that nobody is fighting to bring anybody in.

The other contestants 

However, judging by the result of the annulled election, it wouldn’t be right to say there were no other interested candidates apart from Toyin Kehinde who was said to have 6 votes. The ballot had 4 names on it, which included  Kehinde, Femi Paul, Enyinaya Okuwonu, the incumbent Chairman who is to maintain the status quo till the next election scheduled by the National Exco for 30th of June 2024, who had 2 votes in the annulled election.
There is also Yomi Kasali who had a media engagement to present his position against the outcome of the annulled election. He queried; how can you have no vote in an election you declined to be a candidate on the ground that it’s not following the pattern that PFN is known for? Which has always been an appointment made by the constitutionally designated body and not an election.
Many questions are begging for answers! Will Kehinde’s election stand Or the annulment will?
Are we looking up to a new election?
If it’s a new election who and who are the candidates? And if it’s an appointment as Yomi Kasali opined based on the pattern of PFN; Who will that appointee be?

We can’t burn our house

I want to thank God for the success of the Pentecostal Stakeholders meeting. I appreciate Bishop Dr P.J Ighalo Idoro the only supporter for funding and logistics for the project.
A big thank you to Dr Dave Odi and other men of means and societal status who saw the advert and honoured us with their presence; making meaningful contributions to the discussion.
This is my take. Nobody should be interested in throwing fire into his room to burn down his house and set his city and Country on fire. We want to continue to live in peace with one another.
We don’t want tribal sentiments. The goal of the conference is the unity of the church.
“We want an end to these tribal and pecuniary interests in the PFN. Nobody is against anybody. We desire to see the unity of the Church and not allow impostors to make a mess of our faith.”

Stakeholders role

As stakeholders, we will continue to make consultations to ensure there is an end to the stalemate. Whoever eventually becomes the chairman is not our concern. Our interest is that there should not be any form of ethnic colouration in the transition process. It is the body of Christ.
PFN Stakeholders Committee was later constituted to liaise with those who are involved in the matter.
Kingdom love shared among us as Pentecostals has been an effective antidote to bigotry in our family of faith. That is what we are called to share with the world. We must put bigotry to death and bury it in Nigeria. That way, politics of ideology will flourish. On this, we can’t afford to fail God and our nation.
Let me assure the National leadership of PFN that as Apostolic Round Table, we are standing with them and the constitution of PFN on this.
We pray for greater grace and wisdom for His Eminence and his Team, whose silence on the issue in the media shows maturity and fatherhood.
May the Lord continue to guide their steps and decisions till the glory of the Lord is seen through the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria in Nigeria, AMEN!

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