Receiving the leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) led by Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle, the President affirmed that his administration will continue to address important national challenges including security, economy and corruption.
CAN leadership was at State House to congratulate President Buhari on his re-election, and the President told them the outcome of the just concluded polls underscores the trust Nigerians have in the present leadership in the country.
“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,” the President said.
Commending the important roles religious bodies have played in the last four years of the administration, President Buhari pledged to continue supporting several programmes anchored by the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), geared towards peace, tolerance, unity and harmony in Nigeria.
In his congratulatory message, the CAN president prayed God to grant President Buhari “everything it takes to perform hundred times better than” his first term, stressing that the organisation had the success of this administration at heart.
Rev Ayokunle welcomed the President’s pledge to run an inclusive government in a speech shortly after his re-election, noting that the gesture would give all in the country a sense of belonging.
The leadership of the Christian body in Nigeria also called for ethnic and religious balance in the selection of leadership of the ninth National Assembly.
While appealing to the President to task security agencies to be more proactive in their duties, the CAN leader made a passionate request for deliberate and relentless efforts to free Leah Sharibu, other Chibok girls and Nigerians in the captivity of insurgents.
The CAN President, after the meeting with President Buhari, told State House Correspondents that saboteurs and politicians in cassock had attempted to prevent the association’s leadership from paying the congratulatory visit to the State House.
Ayokunle also dismissed the allegation that pressure was mounted on the CAN leaders to congratulate the president on his re-election.
A national daily and some online platforms had on Tuesday reported that “some influential people working closely with the Federal Government are mounting serious pressure on CAN leadership to pay a congratulatory visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The report quoted a source closed to CAN leadership as saying: “If you know the pressure mounted on CAN leadership that we, as a body, have to go and congratulate the president.
“However, the church is saying this election is controversial and we see what is happening. But, they are still mounting pressure seriously.
“They are telling us if we don’t congratulate him, it means we are against him and that we are partisan.
“However, we are saying let them resolve the issues (in court) before we go and congratulate whoever wins. That’s the situation we find ourselves as the Church of God.”
The CAN leader, however, dismissed the report, saying it was the handiwork of saboteurs and enemies of progress, who did not wish the association well.
He said: “Saboteurs didn’t want us to come here (Aso Rock). We are old enough to know what to do and what not to do.
“If somebody like me after 60 years of age will be under pressure it means that my life would never have meaning again.
“But by the grace of God we have a meaningful life, I know what to do. By God’s grace He has prepared me well for this assignment.
“So, those distractors and those politicians in cassock should go and find better job to do,’’ he said.
Ayokunle noted that the CAN leadership was in the Villa not only to congratulate the president on his re-election, but to remind him of the yearnings of Nigerians.
The cleric said that Nigerians wanted him to perform 100 per cent better than that of the first term.
He, therefore, advised the president that only the best Nigerians should be considered while constituting his new cabinet, stressing that he should do more in addressing socio-economic challenges facing the citizens.
“Now, he has mastered the job; he has mustered enough strengthen to be able to go full swing into action.
“We want him to do more on security- kidnappings almost everywhere and the issue of insurgency in the northeast, the insurgents should be silenced once and for all.
“These ethnic militias that have now moved to the northwest, which used to be peaceful, and they are now causing violence there – before they will grow wings their wings should be clipped completely,’’ he added.