President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, advised religious leaders in the country to eschew partisan politics ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He said those engaging in partisan politics or political controversies among the clerics risked losing their public respect.
Buhari said this at the Interfaith Initiative For Peace Conference tagged, ‘Religious harmony in Nigeria: Towards the 2019 general election’ in Abuja.
The President said his advice became necessary having witnessed the roles religious leaders had been playing so far ahead of the elections.
He expressed the hope that the electoral process would be completed peacefully without resorting to negative use of religion and ethnicity.
The President said, “Very soon, political campaigns will commence leading to elections in February next year.
“It is my hope and prayer that we will perform even better at the polling stations and see to a peaceful completion of the entire process without resorting to negative use of religion and ethnicity.
“Having witnessed the roles our religious leaders have been playing so far, I appeal to them to eschew partisan politics. I also appeal to their respective members to read the manifestos of each political party, discuss and pray for God’s guidance before casting their votes.
“Religious leaders should not be seen to involve themselves in partisan politics or political controversies. Otherwise, they risk losing their status and public respect.
“Buhari also requested traditional rulers to enlighten their subjects and encourage them to ask questions and seek clarifications before going out to vote.
“As your President, I will request that you encourage your subjects to come out and exercise their voting rights as responsible citizens.
“To all of us politicians, I ask that we discharge our political responsibilities with integrity, bearing in mind that we will one day give an account to God, the Almighty.”
Buhari expressed joy that the country had moved forward under him.
He said the era of free money, lack of transparency and accountability was over in the country.
He said, “We deserve continuity; we deserve a better future for the coming generations.
“I sincerely hope 2019 will move us closer to these goals, so I look forward to peaceful, fair and credible elections come 2019.
“Finally, I implore you to continue praying for the country’s unity, peace and progress.”