Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared on Thursday that those accusing him of religious bigotry are wrong and ill-informed.
Mr. Buhari was reacting to a litany of allegations accusing him of favoring Muslims over other religious groups.
“Some voices, for political or ethnic reasons are making unguarded statements accusing the government and myself in particular of religious bias,” Buhari told religious leaders from northern Nigeria who visited him at the presidential palace in Abuja, according to a statement by his office.
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“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,” he added while receiving a delegation of the Arewa Pastors Non-Denominational Initiative for Peace in Nigeria led by Bishop John Abu Richard.
“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.
He 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. President Buhari said religious leaders have the responsibility of creating an enabling environment for peace and development to thrive.