President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Christian leaders in the country of his commitment to leave Nigeria better than he met it in 2015.
President Buhari gave the assurance on Friday, when the Christian Assoiciation of Nigeria (CAN) leadership, led by Rev. Samson Ayokunle, visited the State House to congratulate him on his re-election.
While noting that the outcome of the just concluded polls underscores the trust Nigerians have in the present leadership in the country, Buhari affirmed that his administration will continue to address important national challenges including security, economy and corruption.
He said: “We will continue to strive for peaceful co-existence among all Nigerians irrespective of their religious beliefs.
“In the area of allocation of political offices, our focus will be on merit and national spread such that every part of Nigeria will have a sense of belonging.
“We remain resolute in the fight against terrorism and insurgency, and efforts to bring back all those in captivity and other victims of kidnappings will be intensified.”
Commending the important roles religious bodies have played in the last four years of the administration, the President pledged to continue supporting several programmes anchored by the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), geared towards peace, tolerance, unity and harmony in our country.
In his remarks, Ayokunle assured Buhari of the association’s support in his second term, even as he prayed God to grant the President “everything it takes to perform hundred times better than” his first term.
The CAN president welcomed Buhari’s pledge to run an inclusive government, noting that the gesture would give all in the country a sense of belonging.
He advised the President to comb the entire country to pick the best for his cabinet, even as they pray that the country witness meaningful development under his second tenure.
He also called for ethnic and religious balance in the selection of leadership of the ninth National Assembly.
Ayokunle, while appealing to the President to task security agencies to be more proactive in their duties, made a passionate request for deliberate and relentless efforts to free Leah Sharibu, other Chibok girls and Nigerians in captivity of insurgents.
He said: “Please count on this organization as one that has the success of your administration at heart. In that respect, we would not cease in praying for you and speaking out about what is expected to be done from time to time in keeping with the Bible, the word of God.
“Your Excellency, our advice to you is to take your leadership beyond party politics. We were so happy listening to your Speech after your re-election that you were going to run an all inclusive government. Having been re-elected President, you have become the President of all. In view of this, we urge you to see yourself as father to all by embracing all. We solicit for inclusiveness and fairness as you constitute your cabinet and appoint worthy Nigerians to the headship and membership of critical agencies, boards and parastatals.
“Your Excellency, there is no ethnic or religious group in Nigeria where you cannot find highly qualified men and women that you can engage to add value to your administration and help in moving the nation forward. This is the true and objective way in which you can give all in the country, a sense of belonging.
“We, from the Christian Association of Nigeria, recognize the importance of the National Assembly to the stability and growth of our polity. It is in this regard that we call for ethnic and religious balance with depth in picking the leadership of that great institution of democracy.
“Sir, to ensure that this happens is to remove any apprehension and suspicion harbored towards the leadership of this country. We equally solicit that the principle of separation of power as it is enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would be allowed to thrive as an intrinsic aspect of modern day democracy.
“We commend you specially for the revival of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and the sincere efforts of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in ensuring that your passion to build peace through NIREC becomes a reality. We assure you of our determination to build peace, harmony and unity in our nation as we constantly dialogue with other religious groups in our nation.
“More importantly Sir, we solicit passionately for deliberate and relentless effort to free Leah Sharibu and other Chibok girls from captivity.
“Each passing day inflicts anguish in the hearts of the parents of this young girl, the rest of us who are parents, all Nigerians and others all over the world who love freedom and regret that Leah’s life is being wasted in captivity for no sin of hers other than for her religion. Doing all within you to free Leah Sharibu and according it top priority, shall confer greater credibility on your government and on you as a person.
Speaking on the recent killings in some parts of the country, especially the North-East, Ayokunle said, “while we are thanking you for all your efforts at putting an end to bloodshed in the nation, we urge you to task the security agents to be more alive to their responsibilities by putting an end to insurgency, ethnic violence, kidnapping and herdsmen’s atrocities prevalent in our nation. Today, the North-west of Nigeria which used to be peaceful is also witnessing violent activities.
“The unnecessary killings in Kaduna and the detention of some leaders of Ajara Chiefdom in Kaduna State since January should be addressed without delay to douse all tensions. All efforts today by all of us should be geared towards forgiving one another and reconciling with one another.“