Four-time presidential hopeful, General Muhammadu Buhari, retd, has said his ascription as religious bigot is a maneuver by political confusionists to blackmail him. Buhari, who is seeking the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, said he is liberal as shown when he picked Christians to be his running mates in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
He said: “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?” Buhari said he once stood up to a governor on the issue of religion, stating his running mate could be Muslim or Christian.
“I have not absolutely closed my mind to picking a Christian or Muslim as running mate if I get the ticket. 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,” he said.
The retired soldier made the explanation in an interview with TheCable, an online medium.
He deplored using religion to come economic crimes, saying “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.”
Buhari said religion would not cause a problem if he got the ticket, especially in the Southwest where many of his party’s leaders are Muslims but have Christian wives. He mentioned the leaders as former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu; Oyo, Ogun and Lagos Governors Abiola Ajimobi, Ibikunle Amosun, Babatunde Fashola respectively, and former APC Interim National Chairman, Bisi Akande.
He said: “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.”