Kaduna — The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has accused the federal government of allegedly blackmailing religious leaders in the country.
The former Federal Capital Territory Minister who was reacting to allegations that the federal government spent N7 billion and N12 billion to bribe Christian and Muslim leaders respectively during a press conference in Kaduna, said the federal government was trying to weaken the moral authority of religious leaders in its desperate attempt to remain in power.
El-Rufai alleged that recently, Imams were invited for a seminar organised by Vice-president Namadi Sambo in Kaduna on how to achieve a violence-free poll only for the pictures of the Islamic clerics to be circulated in the media with allegations that they were given N7 billion for President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign.
According to him, the Islamic clerics attended the occasion innocently, thinking that they were there to seek a way forward for a successful election but “their pictures were taken and circulated in the media with all sorts of allegations of receiving N7 billion for the Jonathan’s campaign.”
The former minister noted that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has been similarly blackmailed by the government, adding that such allegation has pitched the Imams and other Christian clergymen against their followers.
“The game plan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government is to rubbish their reputation and blackmail them in such a way that religious leaders cannot tell their followers the truth about the way the country is being mismanaged,”he said.
He stated further that that was how the revered traditional institution in the North was desecrated in 2011 and the people almost rose up against some emirs during and after the elections.
El Rufai warned Nigerians not to fall into the PDP ambush by insinuating all sorts of allegations against religious leaders, adding that the religious leaders remained the only institution that the people listen to, because the ruling party has already compromised traditional institutions.
According to him, traditional rulers and religious leaders are always used as shock absorbers to sue for peace during upheavals like the civil war or the series of ethno-religious crisis that have rocked Nigeria noting that: “The traditional institution has been weakened by the government, so we shouldn’t allow religious bodies and clerics who are the last line of defence to be destroyed by the PDP.”
El Rufai promised that an APC government in Kaduna State and at the centre would restore the lost glory of both the traditional institutions and religious leaders and organisations.