There is no plan to islamise Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari told Catholic bishops in Sokoto yesterday. Speaking at the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the President said contrary to the propaganda and narrative in some quarters, there was no fact to indicate that the present administration was out to Islamise Nigeria.
He noted with dismay that such negative propaganda and innuendos were being promoted by outsiders.
According to him, such religious propaganda has created suspicion and distrust, leading to division and disharmony in the country.
Buhari, who spoke through the Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF), Boss Mustapha, stressed that such negative propaganda being promoted included, the membership of Nigeria to the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), introduction of Shariah in northern states, the Boko Haram insurgency as well as farmers/herdsmen clashes.
He blamed the propanda on some desperate politicians, who have decided to use religion as a tool to spread hate and division.
Saying the four issues predated the present administration, the President said: “It is pertinent to note that due to circumstances we have found ourselves as a nation, suspicion on religious grounds has almost destroyed the fabrics of unity and love that bind us.
“There has been a lot of negative propaganda being instigated by outsiders and finds narrative in the church that there is a plan to islamise Nigeria without any credible fact.
“The issue of membership of Nigeria to OIC, Shariah and farmers/herdsmen clashes had created a lot of suspicion in the minds of the people despite the fact that the problems had existed in the country for several decades.”
Buhari noted that Christian and Muslim religious leaders had been victims of killings in some parts of the country.
Restating the Federal Government commitment to security of lives and property, he said: “I assure all Nigerians that criminals will be fished out and dealt with. The Federal Government will continue to provide a safe society for everyone.
“The fight against the Boko Haram insurgency is achieving the desired goal, while efforts are being made to tackle myriad of challenges in the polity.”
The President believed that the country would overcome its myriad of challenges.
He stressed the need for the church, especially Catholic bishops, to rise up to the occasion and educate the people on the negative propaganda being spread by politicians in order to achieve their selfish aims.
“As you round off this conference, I urge you to go back to your various communities and preach a message of hope, reconciliation and peace,” he said.
In a remark, Conference President Augustine Akubueze said the bishops were in Sokoto to deliberate on issues affecting the church and the nation, as well as advise Nigerians to make informed decisions ahead of 2019 elections.
He called on Nigerians not to despair, despite the challenges bedevilling the country, stressing that only those who confronted their challenges achieved the desired goals.
Akabueze cautioned youths against engaging in fraudulent acts, saying they should uphold the virtues of honesty.
He warned politicians to desist from using religion and ethnicity to divide Nigerians.
The cleric said: “We want to use this medium to warn politicians who are instigating hatred and division by using religion and ethnicity, to desist forthwith.
“We say to these politicians, enough of your deceit. They steal our money while they distract us with religion.”
The Apostolic Nuncio of Nigeria, Monsignor Antonio Filipazzi, who preached peaceful coexistence, urged the government to end the violence ravaging some parts of the country.
He said the people should rather give priority to peace and dialogue among various religious and ethnic groups.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, enjoined the bishops to redouble their efforts towards promoting peace and mutual understanding among various religious groups.