The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has called on politicians to stop using religion and ethnicity as a pretext to perpetrate evil.
Speaking at a programme organised by the International Centre for Interfaith Peace and Harmony (ICIPH) for Muslims/Christians Leaders, tagged: “Working towards a credible, free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria in 2019,” the Sultan, who is the co-chairman of the organisation alongside Rev Benebe Fubara Fubara- Manuel, said politicians must stop manipulating their followers with religion and ethnicity.
Sultan said if Nigeria must move forward, the people must not consider faith as the basis for deciding who to vote for in the 2019 general elections.
“Politicians must stop hiding under religion and ethnicity. Nigerians must vote for track records and not faith,” he said.
Represented by the Etsu Nupe, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Sultan Abubakar said religious leaders must join hands in preaching against violence before, during and after the elections in order to enhance peaceful coexistence.
Sultan who warned that the 2019 general elections should not be a basis for fighting between adherents of Islam and Christianity, calling on religious leaders in the country to preach peace.
“We must speak the truth. Everything is not okay in Nigeria. Let’s stop hiding under religion and ethnicity. Christianity and Islam are not fighting,” he said.
“But maybe there is disagreement between Muslims and Christians, we must try and fish out extremist in our midst. Though, you cannot completely fish out the bad eggs from the society but we must continue to do our part in order to ensure a peaceful country.
“No society is made up of 100 percent saints. We have our problems and challenges. But we should collectively try and overcome them. As leaders, we must try and work for peace. No problem in this world defies solution unless we are not honest. If not, we will overcome the problems.”
The monarch urged religious leaders to tell their followers that despite the challenges, both adherents belong to one God Almighty but choose to worship Him in different ways.
On the killing of innocent people in the name of religion, the Sultan said such people are misguided.
“Some people have wrong notion about Jihad. You cannot kill people pretending to be fighting for God. You are simply deceiving yourself. Jihad does not entail that. God did not create you to fight for Him,” he said.
The Sultan further advised politicians to abide by the rules of the game by carrying out issues-based campaigns.
On his part, the president, Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), and co-chairman of the group, Most Rev Fubara Fabura-Manuel, called for prayers as the country approaches the 2019 general elections.
“Let us keep praying for peaceful coexistence, unity, free, fair and credible elections in our country,” Fubara said, noting that people have suffered in one form of crisis or the other and are now living in hardship that seems to have no end.
“Let us pray for the grace to see every human being as a child of God, regardless of race, language or culture. Let us pray to the Lord for the strength to teach our children how to resolve differences non-violently and respectfully, and the courage to model it in our own behaviour,” Fubara said.