Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Nyesom Wike, has cleared the air on an alleged plan to demolish the National Mosque in Abuja, saying he’s not against any religion.
This is as he extended the ‘develop or revoke’ order issued religious organizations in the territory, saying they would be granted additional time instead of the earlier three-month blanket notice handed all institutions.
Wike had last month issued a three-month grace for owners of 189 undeveloped plots to commence work or risk revocation.
Speaking on Wednesday when he received the Board of the National Mosque, led by its Chairman, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, the minister said the Administration was extending the ultimatum to religious groups since they largely depend on freewill donations from members.
The delegation was at the FCTA to seek clarification on the status of its plot 63, where they were directed to halt development during the construction of the Outer Southern Expressway.
He said, “I want to start from what I was told; that I instructed the demolition of the National Mosque. I want you to know that in politics, people will use a lot of things to fight their opponents.
“The Sultan of Sokoto is one person I have high regards for, I don’t just see him as an elder brother, but like a father.
“Anything that has to do with the National Mosque, of which he is the president; I will always give it support.
“You said Obasanjo launched the appeal fund for the support of the renovation of the National Mosque. No government will not support the management of the national monument. We have a role to ensure that worship centres are well taken care of.”
Wike noted that those trying to whip religious sentiment were mischievously doing so to score cheap political points.
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He further said, “We are not targeting any religious group or ethnicity; we are doing what we can for the good of all FCT residents and Nigerians at large.
“Don’t allow politicians who do not have the capacity to face me in any way to use religion as a weapon against me.”
Wike noted that as a Nigerian, he had no reason to instigate hate speech against any religious group, but to support any that had a genuine cause.
While assuring that the FCTA would not hesitate to support the maintenance of the National Mosque and the National Ecumenical Centre, having been declared as national monuments, Wike called on religious leaders to preach unity and peaceful coexistence.
Earlier, the Etsu Nupe urged the minister to support the maintenance project of the mosque, which he said had been stalled for some time.
He also pleaded with the minister to grant the committee more time to i plots of land allocated to it by the FCTA.