The Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has told Christian clerics that he will not Islamise the nation.
According to a statement issued on Wednesday, Buhari said this during a meeting with Catholic bishops at the Pope John Paul Centre in Abuja.
Buhari said he would always put Nigeria first if elected into office, adding that when he ruled Nigeria between December 1983 and August 1985, he did not impose Islam on any individual.
He said having served in the military, he had been posted to several parts of the country and served alongside people of different religions and tribes.
He said the Peoples Democratic Party had succeeded in misrepresenting him to the Christian community because they could not sell their candidate.
He said, “I would like to solemnly declare that in spite of what our detractors say, I am not a religious fanatic of any sort and I have never been. In all my life, I have never supported extremism of any kind, and nowhere in my record of service to this nation can this false toga political opponents have tried so hard to put on me, be substantiated. Indeed, it is very unfortunate and I feel extremely sad that I have to give this type of assurance.
“My background is in the army, and there is no doubt that the military is the most integrated pan-Nigerian institution. And even today, the military is one of the institutions that represents the pride of our nation’s possibilities in unity.
“Compatriots from every corner of this country come together, work and live together, entrust their lives to each other and integrate their families. It is a military where many of my dearest friends from all faith and parts of the country, lost their lives defending the unity of our nation. That was the military I served in, and in that military it was impossible to be a bigot.”
He said in governance, competence should always come before religion and that was why as head of state, he appointed 11 Christians as governors out of the 19 states.
He said religion comes from personal conviction and should never be used to gain political advantage.
He noted that his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was not only a lawyer but a senior pastor.
He said, “For me, the issue of religion is, and should always, be a matter of personal conviction. This personal conviction approach to religion has defined my work and interactions all my life, including my tenure in office as military Head of State.
“The religion of all those I worked with was never a factor in their progress or in what happened to them. All that mattered then, and should still matter today, are competence, integrity and readiness to be fair to all.
“I was recently informed that we had a balanced cabinet with key positions such as Finance, Energy and Defence occupied by Christians. In addition, 11 of the 19 governors I appointed were Christians. My most memorable recollections of subordinate service was under Christian bosses, the finest our country had then, and among the most respected today. Indeed one of the best appraisals I received in the course of my military career was from General T.Y Danjuma.”