A lot of Nigerians do not know that Nigeria is a secular state and they are also not aware that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not require that Buhari take his oath of office by swearing with the Quran. The drafters of the constitution made it crystal clear that any Nigerian of any faith or no faith can hold any office. It would have been very easy for the constitution drafters to include it in our constitution that the president should be sworn in with the Quran. But they didn’t. In other words, placing a hand on a Quran while reciting the presidential oath is simply a tradition that is not backed by the constitution. Meaning, it is absolutely unnecessary.
On Friday May 29, the Constitution requires that Buhari gives this oath of office: “I, Muhammadu Buhari, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.” So, why should Buhari swear with a Quran? Why shouldn’t he place his hand on the Nigerian Constitution- the very document he’s promising to “preserve, protect and defend?”
There’s is a gargantuan barrier between religion and state and Buhari should demonstrate that he recognises this fact by taking his oath of office with his hand on the constitution instead of the Quran. His loyalty should be to the nation’s laws above all else.
A lot of people will argue that Buhari swearing with the Quran ensures that he adheres to his oath. But let’s be truthful to ourselves: We have seen elected officials swear to uphold the laws of our country with their hands on the Quran and go on to steal billions of naira and break laws like crazy. It all comes down to the individual’s moral code, not a few seconds oath.
My objection is not only against the Quran. I would hold the same view if it were the Bible, the Book of Mormon or any other religious scripture. The drafters of the constitution made it clear that the Nigerian Constitution, “shall be the supreme law of the land.” It is the living legacy they bestowed upon us. It is the framework for our government. And as such, that’s the document our president should place his hand on. It should be clear to us on May 29 that the president views the Constitution as our nation’s alpha and omega. As a matter of fact, your religion doesn’t matter when you are taking a position in office because religion has nothing to do with running a country.
I personally think that being sworn in with any kind of religious testament is a waste of time and useless. A lot of people in the out-going government were sworn in with the Bible but did they deliver any of the things they promised the country?
To some people, it doesn’t matter whether the president-elect is sworn in with the Quran. They’re probably used to seeing it happen. We just take it for granted that it is the way things have always been done, but it doesn’t necessarily make it right. In my opinion, any elected leader in any secular country like ours is voted in to represent everyone in that country. So why not swear with a document that means something to everyone, such as the constitution? Wouldn’t that make more sense, instead of swearing with a religious document that only represents a chunk of the population? Imagine if a Juju priest was elected President, would it be okay for him to be sworn in with ‘sango, orunmila or amadioha’ or some other work written about atheism? Would it be okay for an ogboni president to be sworn in with the ogboni book of sacred covenant? I am a Catholic and I believe completely in not swearing with the Bible because there are multiple religions in the country and swearing with a Bible will not cause the sacred binding to the truth if the person swearing does not share a religion with the Bible. The Bible does not have the same meaning to every person. So it shouldn’t be counted as a true binding document.
Finally, we shouldn’t also forget that oath taking of any kind is absolutely forbidden by the Bible:
“But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” – Matthew 5:34-37
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