Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has distanced himself from accusations of religious bias by his administration, insisting that he works with individuals based on merit.
He stated this when he received a delegation of Northern Christian Clergy at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja.
The religious leaders visited under the aegis of National Leadership of Arewa Pastors and Non-denominational Initiative for Peace in Nigeria, led by National Chairman Arewa Pastors Peace Initiative, Nigeria (APPIN) and Presiding Bishop, Bishop John Abu Richard.
President Buhari called on responsible Nigerians to speak up and not cede the space to those he described as ‘rabble-rousers’.
Pastor Richard, who claimed he represents 45,000 pastors in the 19 northern states, in his remarks, acknowledged the good leadership the President is rending to Nigerians in the area of restoring the economy, boom in the agricultural sector, tackling of insecurity, fighting corruption and his genuine efforts of being a great father to all Nigerians both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.
The cleric, who was silent on Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi school girl still being held captive by terrorist sect, Boko Haram, over her faith, demanded the President’s support 5,000 our Arewa pastors National delegate prayer congress at the Eagle Square on April 26.
Richard said they want to counter those deceiving and poisoning Nigerians with fake news to destroy the president’s good intentions for the country especially those giving the impression that he (Buhari) is anti-Christians and some ethnic groups in Nigeria which they described as ‘a big lie’.
In the words of Pastor Richard, “We the 19 Northern States pastors under the New platform called the Arewa pastors Non-Denominational initiative for peace in Nigeria believe in your leadership and we are here to let you know that we are fully standing by you and your government to ensure that you succeed and peace is restored to every and corners of the country.
“And to counter those deceiving and poisoning Nigerians with fake news to destroy your good intentions for the country especially those giving the impression that you are against Christians and some ethnic groups in Nigeria which is a big lie for instance: Some Pastors using places of worship to preach hate. People using Church to preach violence. (If you preach war and war broke out who will go to Church for worship).
“We believed that the Mr. President has no lslamization agenda in Nigeria, because if he cannot do it as Military Head of State with a Muslim Deputy Head of State, how can it be done under Democratic government.
“This is just an opposition propaganda, about the killings around the Country, we observed that it is not only Christian that are the victims, both Muslims and Christians are affected, and the Government is doing everything possible to solve the problem.
“What we need to do is to come together as a people to support our government in other to bring to an end to this circle of violence and we assure Your Excellency that we will cooperate in exposing any information that will be available to us as regard to the perpetrators
“We demand His Excellency, 1. That you support our 5,009 Arewa pastors peace and unity National delegate prayer congress at the eagle square on Thursday 26th April 2018.
“We will want His Excellency to link us with the relevant security agencies in our crusade for peace and fight against hate speeches and those dark walls that separate us as we will network with our counterpart from the East and west to hand over those of our colleagues being used by the enemies of our togetherness to inject confusion and false stories into the public space resulting to the destabilization of peaceful co-existence we were enjoying in the country.”