With barely five weeks to the general election, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday, accused some Nigerians of using religion to foster their economic and political agenda.
He said only the continuous education of a large number of citizens would expose such people.
According to a statement signed late Tuesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari spoke at Nouakchott, Mauritania, while meeting with the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Rashad Hussain.
The statement is titled ‘The place of education in addressing religious intolerance, by President Buhari.’
“It’s a problem Nigeria has been struggling with for a long time, and it is completely unnecessary. Some people use religion as sentiment, but with adequate education, people are seeing through it now,” Buhari said.
The President recounted a private meeting at the White House with former US President Donald Trump, where Trump asked him: “Why are you killing Christians in Nigeria?” and how he (Buhari) explained to him that the killings were not religious, but rather criminal; with some elements using religion to further their economic, and sometimes, political interests.
He said, “The majority of the people just want to practice their religion without problem, but some people cash in on religious misunderstanding for their own ends.
“When people are educated, they are able to discern when others want to use religion for certain ends. They do it mostly for material reasons.
“Also, when some people are incompetent, they bring in all sorts of excuses, including religion.”
On his part, Hussain said the United States of America is interested in partnering with Nigeria in the areas of formal and non-formal education, towards religious harmony.
“There’s so much we can do together to promote peace, promote communal harmony. We love what you are doing, and we would be glad to assist as appropriate,” he said.