President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday pledged to be just and fair to all Nigerians, irrespective of their religion or ethnicity.
He said neither his personal decisions nor policies of the Federal Government under his watch are influenced by religious prejudice.
The President spoke when the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), led by its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, paid him a courtesy call at the State House in Abuja.
He warned that stoking ethnic and religious prejudices will not augur well for the development of the country and pledged to uphold religious freedom for everyone.
“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.
”Accordingly, the Federal Government under my leadership does not and will not allow religious prejudice or partisanship to influence any of its decisions and policies. It is my solemn decision to be fair and just to all segments of society”, Buhari said.
His administration had been working from the onset to ensure Nigerians have a peaceful and secure country, adding that more attention is being paid to the armed forces and other security agencies, as they are constantly receiving more equipment as well as a morale boost.
He, however, charged Nigerians to make the fight more successful for the nation by constantly providing the security and armed forces with timely and accurate intelligence on activities of criminals in their domains.
“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”, he urged.
In his address, Sultan Abubakar commended the President for the successes achieved so far in the Northeast, calling on the government to deal decisively with the banditry that is raving the Northwestern 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 NSCIA leader 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.
The Sultan equally identified with the ‘Hate Speech Campaign’ of the Minister of Information and Culture. He said ‘Hate Speech’ is aggravating insecurity in the country and that “we have to act.”
Earlier in the day, the President received Letters of Credence of the new Ambassadors of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Argentina at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He re-echoed the need for global action against COVID-19 climate change and terrorism.
“All three countries represented here enjoy excellent multilateral relations with us. In addition to the United Nations, the largest multilateral umbrella platform, we are also members of the G-77 and the South-South Cooperation which Nigeria, Argentina, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have used to advance our collective interests and causes. Nigeria is proud to be associated with these platforms, for they have enabled us to work closely together with the Principal Representatives of these countries,” he said.
The Ambassadors, who presented their Letters of Credence, are Mr Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa, Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr Faisal Ebraheem Alajrafi Alghamdi, the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Mr Alejandro Miguel Francisco Herrero, the Republic of Argentina.
Speaking on behalf of others, Ambassador Ihab Moustafa expressed appreciation to the President for receiving them and accepting their letters of credence.
He assured of their commitment to work to further enhance and strengthen the countries’ friendship and partnership with Nigeria.”