Nigerian Bishops and Imams under the umbrella of Inter-Faith Alliance have backed Mr. Peter Obi, Labour Party presidential candidate, and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, noting that theirs is the only balanced ticket.
The clerics who visited the Labour Party’s secretariat on Saturday included the General Overseer of World Harvest Ministry, Archbishop Leonard Kawaz, and an Imam from Gwarinpa Central Mosque, Sheikh Murtala Muhammed.
Kawaz, who is also prelate of the Charismatic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, told Punch that they came to register their displeasure over plans of the ruling All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party to divide the country along ethno-religious lines.
Kawaz who is the head of Inter-Faith Alliance said this informed the decision to encourage their over 5,000 religious leaders, many of whom came from Kaduna, Kano, Nasarawa, Niger and Abuja to attend the event, to throw their weight behind Obi and his running mate, Datti Yusuf.
“I stand here today to reject the Muslim-Muslim ticket just like I would have rejected a Christian-Christian ticket. It is not also okay to tell me and my team that while we rejected the Muslim-Muslim ticket, we should now turn around and vote for a politician of the same tribe as the outgoing president in this multi-lingual, tribal and racial nation,” he said.
“We know what is lacking in Nigeria is knowledge and understanding that a Muslim does not necessarily need to become a Christian for us to live in peace, neither does a Christian need to become a Muslim to live in peace.
“What we need is an understanding of the two faiths. There are faiths aside from Islam and Christianity that we have also been interacting with. We need everybody.
“Having examined all the candidates of political parties, we have come to the conclusion that the Labour Party has done the right thing for Nigeria by fielding His Excellency Peter Obi and Datti Yusuf. These are distinguished gentlemen who have proven themselves in leadership and management of resources in their previous endeavours.”
Kawaz, who have lived in Abuja for 24 years, reiterated that Nigeria was at a crossroad where the critical presidential election that will take place in a few months will either make or mar the country.
On his part, Muhammed disclosed that Nigerians should not regard the obnoxious Muslim-Muslim ticket as an option.
He stated, “We have also made up our mind not to support any party with a Muslim-Muslim ticket because it was borne out of the selfish interest of one person. We support the motion for harmony and peaceful co-existence with our Christian brothers.
“That is why we are also willing to go all the way to vote party with a balanced ticket. May God continue to help Nigeria and his people.”
National Chairman of the Labour Party, Julius Abure, while commending the clerics begged them to continue praying for the movement and safety of their supporters across the country.
Abure lamented that a considerable number of their followers in different parts of the country have come under attack in recent times.
“Since I became the national chairman of the LP, today is my best day. I said so because the prayers from clerics of these two faiths are coming in the nick of time. The party and its followers are seriously under attack. Just yesterday, we are telling ourselves to go public by appealing to Nigerians and religious leaders to pray for us.
“Three days ago, the presidential candidate and his running mate were in Kaduna to attend a function. Our followers who came from Zaria were involved in an accident and died. Others are hospitalised as we speak.
“Since we started this movement, people thought it was a joke. Now they know. Today, they discuss no other things than LP in their closets. We are also receiving intelligence that they are going to fight us in some states where there are grand plans to attack our members. As I speak to you, they have invaded the homes of some members in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu and several other states.
“We know for sure that the time of the people has come. Our presidential candidate has been forced to shift his campaign because of the flood that has ravaged several communities across the country. That’s why I said the coming of the clerics here today is a divine one,” he said.