President Muhammadu Buhari has described himself as “a descendant of Abraham just like Bishop Crowther” in what appears to be a swipe at those accusing him of attempting to Islamise Nigeria.
Crowther was the first Anglican bishop in Nigeria. A linguist, he translated the Bible from English to Yoruba.
In an article published by UK-based Christian Times, the President referred to the accusation as “nonsense”.
President Buhari said he believed that there was far more that unites Muslims and Christians in the country than what divides them.
“I stand accused — paradoxically — of trying to Islamise Nigeria while also being accused by Boko Haram terrorists of being against Islam. My Vice-President is a devout man, a Christian pastor. He, too, is accused of selling out his religion, because of his support for me,” he said.
“Fortunately, the facts speak differently from the words of those who seek to divide us from one another. I believe that the messages of the Bible are universal: available for anyone to exercise, and instructive to all.
“Like Bishop Crowther, I am a descendant of Abraham; unlike him, I am a Muslim. I believe our two great religions can not only peacefully coexist but also flourish together. But Muslims and Christians must first turn to one another in compassion. For, as it says in Amos 3.3: “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet.”
The President said Nigerians must resist the temptation to retreat into their respective communities because “it is only when we mix that we can reach new and greater possibilities.”
He highlighted the efforts of his government to secure the government.
“Since my administration has been in power, Boko Haram has been significantly and fatally degraded; I have befriended church leaders and church groups both within and outside our country; my Vice-President has addressed and opened dialogue with Muslims up and down our land,” he wrote.
“In all things, we seek that which all well-meaning Christians and well-meaning Muslims must seek: to unite, respect, and never to divide.”