President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday urged religious leaders in the country not to get involved in politics in order not to lose their status and public respect.
The President gave this advice while speaking at the Interfaith Initiative for Peace Conference in Abuja.
He admonished religious leaders to play the roles they had played in 2015 that saw a peaceful election.
“I appeal to them to eschew partisan politics and appeal to their respective members to read the manifesto of each political party, discuss and pray for God’s guidance before casting their votes.
“Religious leaders should not be seen to involve themselves in partisan politics or political controversies. Otherwise they risk losing their status and public respect.”
He commended the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Co-Initiators of the Interfaith who he said have continued to work for peace and peaceful coexistence as faithful Muslims and Christians.
He also thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury, Reverend Justin Welby for accepting to be the keynote speaker at the Conference.
He said “Primary Elections are over, it is my hope that all who feel aggrieved would put the stability of our country first before their political ambitions and accept the decision of their political parties or seek resolution through party reconciliation mechanisms or the law courts.
“Very soon, political campaigns will commence leading to Elections in February next year. It is my hope and prayer that we will even perform better at the polling stations and see to a peaceful completion of the entire process without resorting to negative use of religion and ethnicity.”
Continuing, he said, “On their part, traditional rulers are also requested to enlighten their subjects, encourage them to ask questions and seek clarifications before going out to vote.
“As your President, I will request that you encourage your subjects to come out and exercise their voting rights as responsible citizens. To all of us politicians, I ask that we discharge our political responsibilities with integrity, bearing in mind that we will one day give an account to God, the Almighty.
“I am proud to say that our country has moved on, the era of free money, lack of transparency and accountability is over! We deserve continuity; we deserve a better future for the coming generations. I sincerely hope 2019 will move us closer to these goals and so I look forward to a peaceful, fair and credible elections come 2019.”