Sometime in December 2016, Femi-Fani Kayode, former minister of aviation, showered praises on Musa Asake, general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Asake in his usual manner had risen in defence of victims who were murdered.
“He is a courageous and truly wonderful man and I was struck by his extraordinary humility. Asake is one of the few men of God in this country that has the courage of his convictions and that is prepared to risk all for the Body of Christ…Such is the fire in his bones and such is his courage and passion. Musa Asake I have only three words to say: ‘onward Christian soldier! I thank God that we have Christian leaders like him who are not ready to sweep things under the carpet and who have the courage to speak out and tell the world the bitter truth.”
Today, the fighter, preacher, leader, and outspoken cleric embarked on his final journey home. A good man is no more. He died on Friday, after a protracted illness, aged 66. Until his death, he was the general secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Asake was born on 15 September, 1952, Ung/Rimi Bajju- Kafanchan in Zango Kataf local government council in southern Kaduna. Asake attended LEA Primary School, Anguwan Rimi, Zangon Kataf local government area of Kaduna. After his primary school, he proceed to Bible College, Kagoro, Kaura LGA of the state and upon completing the Bible College, he went to Kagoro Teachers College.
OUTSPOKEN DEFENDER OF CHRISTIANS
Asake has always represented and protected the interest of the Christian faith. His death came less than two weeks after he partook in protests over the nationwide killings.
In January, Asake, while addressing a press conference in Abuja, condemned the killings of Christians. He hit on Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police, accusing him of “taking sides”. President Muhammadu Buhari was not spared from his tongue lashing. He accused the president of failing to imbibe the dictates of democracy in the discharge of his duties.
“The bottom line is that President Buhari failed woefully to protect Nigerians. He willfully permitted the Fulani herdsmen to operate killing people, destroying communities wholesale, destroying farmlands and turning the entire Middle Belt into “killing fields”, all the while enjoying government protection from counter attack, arrest or prosecution,” he had said.
Two years before Nasir el-Rufai was elected governor of Kadua, the deceased asked that el-Rufai be examined by psychiatrists over comments attributed to the governor that CAN is the mouthpiece of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“I take his utterance as an insult. For him to take our leader and associate him with a political party is a total disrespect. It is not just an insult to our leader; it is also an insult to the Christian community in Nigeria. We cannot do that to the Muslims. I think psychiatrists should examine el-Rufai,” Asake had said.
“The way he has been talking of recent is worrisome. I think he must tender an apology to the Christian body and our president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor in particular. We know that the PDP has its own spokesman. How then will el-Rufai say that? That is total disrespect. A true Muslim knows that he cannot just disrespect a religious leader like that. Enough is enough. He’s been saying a lot of things and we can no longer tolerate that.”
He had claimed there was a “grand plan to wipe out Christians” in the country. He consequently called on Christians to defend themselves.
“Any Christian that does not prepare to defend himself is stupid, unless you are in government and being protected by the government. However, for all the villagers in their farms, you should defend yourselves, your families, your fatherland, your ancestral land. These people are coming to take your land and nobody is going to help you,” he told Nigerian Tribune in an interview.
OVER 4 DECADES OF PASTORAL CAREER
According to a statement issued by CAN, Asake began his career, as an assistant pastor with the Evangelical Church of West Africa, (ECWA) in 1976.
“His last official assignment was the press conference he addressed few days ago on the incessant killings in the country where CAN called on Christians to embark on a peaceful protest with a view to waking up the federal government with the security agencies to its constitutional responsibilities,” the statement read.
He started his pastoral career as an assistant and senior pastor at the ECWA Church, Unguwar Rimi, Bajju, his hometown in Zangon Kataf local government of Kaduna state in 1976. In 1996, he became the pastor-in-charge of ECWA Headquarters Church in Jos on completion of his doctorate degree in philosophy, PhD at the Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas, USA with specialisation in Bible Exposition. Between 1976 and 2012, the new CAN General Secretary pastored at three different churches and lectured part-time at Jos Theological Seminary (JETS).
Between 1999 and May 2005, he was the general secretary of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), with its headquarters in Jos, Nigeria. He was a pastor and teacher, conference speaker and counsellor, rose to the office with a wealth of family, educational, academic, pastoral, teaching, education and church administration, cross-cultural, national and international, government and political experiences.
He was a member of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) between 1999 and 2005. Asake served as chairman and member of several Christian boards and governing councils, like the Plateau State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board where he was chairman between 2003 and 2005. He served as a member of the Board of Trustee, ECWA Bingham University and became chairman, Ministers Development Initiative (MDI), Jos, Nigeria.
There is no doubt saying he lived a worthy life. In the first interview he granted this year, Asake said: “We have made up our mind: we are going to speak until we cannot speak any more.” And that’s exactly what he did.
He is survived by wife and children.