Buhari Warns Nigerians Against Promoting Ethnic, Religious Prejudices

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has warned Nigerians against promoting ethnic and religious prejudices so that the nation could witness rapid development.
The President, who gave the warning on Thursday while receiving in audience a delegation of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) led by its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, however gave an assurance that his administration will continue to create the enabling environment for religious freedom as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.

Buhari, in a statement issued at the end of the meeting by his Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, emphasised that the Federal Government under his leadership did not and will not allow religious prejudice or partisanship to influence any of its decisions and policies adding that “it is my solemn decision to be fair and just to all segments of society”.

He stressed that “The Federal Government will continue to promote religious freedom as it is a constitutional responsibility. I must thank the Muslim ummah for promoting inter-religious dialogue in the country. It is self-evident that if the country must work, we must continue to work together in spite of our ethnic, religious and political differences because Nigeria is our collective project. The President assured the delegation that government was doing all within its powers to bring the current state of insecurity to the barest minimum, calling on the local community to assist the security forces as they perform their roles.

His words: “The Federal Government has worked tirelessly to combat insecurity and other challenges that are confronting the country. Security is a protracted problem but we are not relenting in our efforts. Not only are we equipping the military, we are also boosting their morale to perform their constitutional duties without undue interference. We are also encouraging locales to enhance their intelligence gathering and timely remitting to the security Agencies.

“I acknowledge that security is the first responsibility of Government but Government cannot do it alone. It requires stakeholders, such as yourselves. Therefore, I urge you to lend your support to the security agencies by providing information that may stem the tide of crimes and insecurity in the society.”

Buhari also spoke on efforts being made by his administration towards making life better for the average Nigerian saying “we are diversifying the economy and putting appropriate mechanisms in place to reduce poverty and more fiercely combat corruption, regardless of the status of those involved. “Programmes such as N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme and Home-Grown School Feeding are just some of the interventions made to empower Nigerians and cater for their needs.

“The National Social Investment Programme alone has directly benefited four million Nigerians through job training and financial assistance.”
The President called on the leaders to continue “speaking to our people and to help amplify this message through your very tried and tested networks” and to give full backing to the Alternate School Programme which he launched on Tuesday.

According to him, the programme was “designed to not only address our high out of school rates, but it will boost our levels of Girl Child education while also equipping our youth with the right tools in making decisions at every turn of their lives when confronted by peddlers of evil and hateful messages… and also address the public health crises that the world is currently facing.”
The President further appealed to Nigerians to support government efforts on COVID-19.

His words: “As Government continues to work towards managing this crisis, it is also critical that you lend your voices in support of those basic but fundamental protocols that can significantly curtail the spread of this disease – Washing of our hands, Using facemasks and ensuring social distancing as much as possible have been proven to be our first line of defense in the fight against this virus.

“Furthermore and much more important, when the vaccines which we are working hard to procure for the nation arrive, please, please join in the drive to educate people that these vaccines are meant to save lives and protect everyone.” Speaking earlier, Sultan Abubakar commended the President for the successes achieved so far in the North East, calling on the Government to deal decisively with the banditry that is ravaging the North Western States of Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and some parts of the North Central. While expressing confidence that security forces, with better synergy among them, will overcome present challenges, he solicited for the cooperation of all the governors with the federal government irrespective of their political leanings, calling on Nigerians to support the new leadership of the armed forces.

The Sultan also appealed to Nigerians, particularly religious leaders to refrain from making inflammatory comments that tend towards sowing discord in the polity and exacerbating the current level of insecurity in the land. He asked that religious leaders making subversive comments should be called to order.