President Muhammadu Buhari says religious leaders should not partake in partisan politics or be involved in political controversies.
Buhari gave the admonition while speaking at the Interfaith Conference on Religious Harmony in Nigeria on Saturday.
According to the president, with the influence religious and traditional leaders wield over their followers and subjects, they are in the best position to encourage them to “vote wisely” ahead of the 2019 general election.
“Having recognised the role our religious leaders have been playing so far, I appeal to them to eschew partisan politics and appeal to their respective members to read the manifestos of each political party, discuss and pray for God’s guidance before casting their votes,” he said.
“Religious leaders should not be seen to involve themselves in partisan politics or political controversies, otherwise they risk losing their status and public respect.
“On their part, the traditional rulers are also requested to enlighten their subjects, encourage them to ask questions and clarifications before going out to vote.
“As you are present, I will request that you encourage your subjects to come out and exercise their voting rights as responsible citizens.
“It is my hope and prayer that we will even perform better in the polling stations and see to the peaceful conclusion of the entire process without resorting to the negative use of religion and ethnicity.”
The president urged “aggrieved persons” to place the stability of Nigeria ahead of their individual political ambitions and to seek redress in court where necessary.
“It is my hope that all, who feel aggrieved will put the stability of our country first before their political ambition, or accept the decisions of their political parties or seek resolution through party reconciliation mechanisms or the law court,” he said.
“Very soon, political campaigns will commence leading to elections in February next year.
“To all of us politicians, I ask that we discharge our political responsibilities with integrity, bearing in mind that we will one day give account to God Almighty.
“I am proud to say that our country has moved on; the era of free money, lack of transparency and accountability is over.”
The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential flag bearer said the party deserves re-election in 2019, in view of its achievements thus far.
“We deserve continuity, we deserve a better future for the coming generations,” he said.
“I sincerely hope that 2019 will move us closer to these goals and so I look forward to a peaceful, fair and credible election come 2019.”