With just five weeks to go before the general election, the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired), on Tuesday accused some Nigerians of using religion to further their economic and political agenda.
He said that only the continued education of a large number of citizens would expose such people.
According to a statement signed Tuesday night by the Principal Special Assistant to the President for Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari spoke in 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 to address religious intolerance, by President Buhari’.
“It is a problem that Nigeria has been struggling with for a long time and it is completely unnecessary. Some people use religion as sentiment, but with proper education, people are now seeing it,” 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 criminal; with some elements using religion to further their economic and sometimes political interests.
He said: “Most people just want to practice their religion smoothly, but some people take advantage of religious misunderstandings for their own purposes.
“When people are educated, they are able to discern when others want to use religion for certain purposes. They do it mainly for material reasons.
“Also, when some people are incompetent, they come up with all sorts of excuses, including religion.”
For 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 is so much we can do together to promote peace, promote community harmony. We love what he is doing and will be happy to assist as appropriate,” she said.