I'm not a religious fanatic —Buhari

By The Citizen

A former Head of State and presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said he is not a religious fundamentalist. He also said he was not opposed to a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2015 elections.

In an interview with TheCable, an online news medium, which was published on Saturday, Buhari hinted that his running mate may be a Muslim or a Christian.

He noted that he had chosen Christians as his running mate on several occasions, contrary to the belief that he is a fanatic.

Buhari 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?'

According to the former Head of State, the new phenomenon of religion is another blackmail political confusionists in Nigeria are bringing to the fore.

Buhari stated that religion could not be an issue, if he won the APC ticket and the presidential election due to the background of many political leaders from the south-west.

He noted that the APC chiefs whose wives are Christians include former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu; Governors of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi; Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola; Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; and former Governor of Osun State and former APC Interim National Chairman, Bisi Akande.

Buhari likened his situation to that of Moshood Abiola, a southern Muslim, who picked Babagana Kingibe, a northern Muslim, as his running mate in the June 12, 1993 presidential election. He recalled that the Muslim-Muslim ticket went on to win the election that is still considered by many as the most credible in Nigeria's history.

He further said, '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.

'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.

'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.' TheCable