MUST READ: “What Do Nigerians Want Me To Do?”, Buhari Speaks On the Fundamentalist Question, His Running Mate
Former Head of State, General Muhammdu Buhari has said that he has demonstrated to Nigerians that he is not a fundamentalist and therefore has nothing more to do to change their perception.
He spoke in respect of the perception as been made to believe in some quarters that he is an extremist who will Islamize the country if he becomes the president.
Buhari who is a presidential hopeful under the platform of the All Progressives Congress in an exclusive interview with the cable said “Nigerians will always uncover impossible room for manoeuvre for politicians. I had to face one of the governors during one of our party’s meetings [over the issue of religion].
“In 2003, I chose Chuba Okadigbo as my running mate. He was a Roman Catholic. He was an Igbo. In 2007, I picked Edwin Ume-Ezeoke. He was a Roman Catholic. He was an Igbo. And in 2010, I chose even a pastor. Pastor Tunde Bakare.
“Honestly, what do Nigerians want me to do? If they don’t believe I’m not a fundamentalist, what else can I do?”
The retired General who said he is keeping an open mind about the possibility of picking a Muslim as his running mate if he emerges the flagbearer of his party said This new phenomenon of religion is another blackmail political confusionists in Nigeria are bringing to the fore.”
“I have not absolutely closed my mind to picking a Christian or Muslim as running mate if I get the ticket. Because I firmly believe that Nigerians, having gone through what they have gone through, realise it is not a matter of religion, but a matter of Nigeria.
“And the main religions, Christianity and Islam, they know and they believe in the almighty God. The question of stealing and short-changing people in the name of religion should stop,” he said.
He likened his situation to that of Moshood Abiola, a southern Muslim, who picked Babagana Kingibe, a northern Muslim, as running mate in the 1993 presidential election. The Muslim-Muslim ticket went on to win an election that is still considered by many as the most credible in Nigeria’s history.
He also made reference to the 1961 northern house of assembly election, when Ibrahim Imam, a Kanuri Muslim from Borno, won an election to represent Tivland, a Catholic domain in the middle belt, after being sponsored by Joseph Tarka, the leading Tiv politician then.
He said religion cannot be an issue if he wins APC’s ticket and goes ahead to win the presidential election, because of the background of many political leaders from the south-west. The wives of Bola Tinubu, APC national leader; Oyo governor, Abiola Ajimobi; Lagos governor, Babatunde Fashola; Ogun governor, Ibikunle Amosun; and former APC interim chairman, Bisi Akande, are all Christians, Buhari pointed out. “For goodness sake, the children of these political leaders were bred and brought up by Christian mothers. You think those people, wherever they participate, they will bring a religious issue? What kind of people are we? Nigerians will always bring something to cause confusion while we are trying to stabilise the system,” he said.
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