Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been a veritable force for peace, unity and social justice.
Osinbajo was among notable Nigerians conferred with the CAN Award of Excellence in Governance on Saturday in Abuja.
The awards were part of activities for CAN’s 45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration Dinner and Award Night.
Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, Former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, were also honoured.
More so, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agree, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustafa and some Christian governors, serving and past National Assembly members bagged awards.
Osinbajo, in his remark, accepted on behalf of other awardees who are members of the government.
The vice president dedicated the award to those who, daily in different locations, distant and near, propagated the message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, sometimes in difficult and life-threatening situations
He said that the awardees were not necessarily the most deserving of Christians to be given any recognition but by the special grace of God which placed them in the high capacity they served.
“We are in the advantageous position that our contribution will be more easily noticed.
“So, this award is dedicated to the men who, daily in different locations, distant and near propagate this message of the love and reconciliation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in sometimes even difficult and life-threatening situations.
“And to many who have suffered deprivations, the families of those who have lost their lives by reason of their belief.
“And we are deeply grateful to the Almighty God for the opportunity and enablement to serve in the positions to which we have been referred.
”I bring, also, the very warm felicitations of the President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 45th anniversary of the birth of this foremost association of Nigerian Christians.
“CAN was formed to, among other objectives, nurture the unity of the church in Nigeria and to work with the leaders of other faith and persuasions to build bridges and forge understanding, peace and unity among the various people and faith in our nation.
“CAN has not only been continually faithful to its founding vision, it has become a veritable force for peace, for unity and for social justice.
“Pursuant to the gospel, CAN has consistently spoken up on behalf of the least of those in our society,’’ he said
He said that the current and past leaderships of CAN had acted in full realiasation and recognition of their roles as pivotal stakeholders alongside the government and private sector in nation building.
Osinbajo, in a power point presentation, showed the design of the proposed upgrade of the National Ecumenical Centre, Abuja.
Earlier in his welcome address, CAN National President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, said that the gathering was to celebrate 45 years of the church in Nigeria.
He said that Governance Category awards were for Christians in politics who had shown excellent and remarkable services.
“These include past presidents, serving governors and senators in our assessment that deserve such award.
“An award ceremony is applause of vision, personal discipline and determination; it is an event like this that makes people feel that their works are valued.
“The award is a catalyst that is expected to reinforce the awardees to serve humanity more and more,’’ he said.
The CAN president said it was heart breaking that majority of those in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were Christians who were displaced by religious fanatics, bandits and gunmen in their territories.
He solicited the awardees’ financial support in fulfilling some of CAN’s obligations to fellow Christians and bringing to fruition the association’s projects.
Leah Sharibu, a school girl taken hostage by insurgents from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018, was honoured with Young Christian Achievers Awards.
Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, who sheltered no fewer than 200 Christians in Barkin Ladi, Plateau, during an attack, was presented with the Special Recognition award.
The late Obadiah Mailafia, former CBN Deputy Governor, was given a post-humous award of Spokesperson for Oppressed alongside Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana.
Awards were also given to best candidates in the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Senior School Certificate Examination.
Highlight of the event was the cutting of the anniversary cake.