Buhari meets Catholic Bishops, allays fears on religious freedom

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari, has assured of his commitment towards ensuring that Nigeria remains a multi-religious state where every individual is free to practice his or her religion of choice.

Speaking at a meeting with representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Mr. Buhari said although he had been consistently vilified and maligned, he had no personal religious agenda and neither would he support any moves by anybody or group of persons to either Christianise or Islamise Nigeria.

In his speech titled “One Nation bound in Freedom, Peace, Unity and Love”, Mr. Buhari, who was accompanied by his running mate Yemi Osinbajo, the Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and a host of other members of the party’s campaign team, said he “will not condone any initiative that seeks to promote one religion over the other”.

Earlier in his welcome speech, Bishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, who is also the Archbishop of Jos, said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria believes in the unity and progress of this country and regretted the wide communication chasm that exists between the leaders and the people.

He hoped that the conversation was an indication of the willingness to establish a sustainable communication platform.

The Bishops expressed their concern with the falling education standards in Nigeria, wide spread corruption, insurgency and the worrisome security situation in the country, amongst others.

Reacting, Mr. Buhari traced the cause of the challenges to unemployment.

In his view, “in a country where a large percentage of the younger generation is unemployed and where no immediate respite is in sight, these challenges are prone to abound. Give them self-improvement opportunities; offer them a view of a greater tomorrow and all these will be in the past.”

Mr. Buhari assured that his government will pursue a well-planned agricultural programme in conjunction with development of the rural areas in order to exploit the multiplier benefits of agriculture, empower citizens and curtail rural-urban drift. He also stated that the solid mineral exploration and exploitation would be given a boost to generate employment.

On corruption, Mr. Buhari maintained that “we already have laws and institutions empowered to fight against corrupt practices. All we need is the will to activate these structures and utilize them appropriately”.

He further stated that Nigeria’s potential for greatness will become evident again and be more appreciated not long after he steps into office.

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