Buhari To Arewa Pastors: I Have No Hidden Religious Agenda
"Some voices, for political or ethnic reasons are making unguarded statements accusing the government and myself in particular of religious bias.
"Let me assure you, honourable clergymen that this is far from the truth. In my career as a soldier, administrator, and politician, I have never veered from my oath of office," President Muhammadu Buhari told some pastors of the Arewa Non-Denominational Initiative for Peace in Nigeria who held a meeting with him.
There have been insinuations that the current administration had a plan to make Nigeria an Islamic State.
At the meeting held on Thursday at the State House, the President explained that his decisions on appointments of individuals were based on merit and not on religious bias.
President Buhari further called on religious leaders to work towards the broader goal of building a strong and unified nation, and avoid insinuations that could divide the populace, especially along religious lines.
He told the delegation led by Bishop John Abu Richard that religious leaders had the responsibility of creating an enabling environment for peace and development to thrive.
"When I had the honour to lead a Military Government there were more Christians than Muslims in the Federal Executive Council and the Supreme Military Council.
"This was not by design but I appointed people on their merit without the slightest bias. The present Federal Executive Council is also evenly balanced; again not by design but by respecting and rewarding individual qualities," the President said.
The delegation told President Buhari that they were aware that Nigeria needed prayers to surmount its deluge of challenges and that they were preparing to hold a one day prayer and fasting meeting for the nation.
A statement by the spokesman for President Buhari, Femi Adesina, said the President was delighted at the proposition to hold a one day prayer and fasting meeting for the nation on April 26, assuring the pastors that he would direct the Inspector General of Police to provide adequate security for the gathering.
Security issues in the northern part of Nigeria was not left out in the talks.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation said more than 45,000 pastors in the Northern part of Nigeria had registered with the initiative to use their pulpits for the propagation of the gospel of peace, and shun political distractions.
He then asked other pastors to support the administration of President Buhari, as it works towards ending the violence in various parts of the country and avoid politically coloured sermons.