President Muhammadu Buhari said some people hide under the canopy of religion to advance their economic and political agenda, and continuous education is needed so that the larger populace would not be hoodwinked.
The President spoke at Nouakchott, Mauritania, Tuesday, while meeting with Rashad Hussain, United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
Recounting his private meeting at the White House with former President Donald Trump, the Nigerian leader recalls Trump asking him: “why are you killing Christians in Nigeria,” and how he proceeded to tell him that the issue in the country was not religious, but rather criminal, and a usage of religion by some elements to further their economic, and sometimes, political interests.
“It’s a problem Nigeria has been struggling with for a long time, and it is completely unnecessary,” President Buhari said. “Some people use religion as sentiment, but with adequate education, people are seeing through it now. Majority of the people just want to practice their religion without problem, but some people cash in on religious misunderstanding for their own ends.
“When people are educated, they are able to discern when others want to use religion for certain ends. They do it mostly for material reasons.
“Also, when some people are incompetent, they bring in all sorts of excuses, including religion.”
Ambassador Hussain said the United States of America is interested in partnering with Nigeria in the areas of formal and non-formal education, toward religious harmony.
“There’s so much we can do together to promote peace, promote communal harmony. We love what you are doing, and we would be glad to assist as appropriate,” he said.