According to a statement issued on Wednesday, Buhari said this during a meeting with Catholic bishops at the Pope John Paul Centre in Abuja.
Buhari said he would always put Nigeria first if elected into office, adding that when he ruled Nigeria between December 1983 and August 1985, he did not impose Islam on any individual.
He said having served in the military, he had been posted in several parts of the country and served alongside people of different religions and tribes.
He said the Peoples Democratic Party had succeeded in misrepresenting him to the Christian community because they could not sell their candidate
He said, “I would like to solemnly declare that in spite of what our detractors say, I am not a religious fanatic of any sort and I have never been. In all my life, I have never supported extremism of any kind. Indeed, it is very unfortunate and I feel extremely sad that I have to give this type of assurance.
“My background is in the army, and there is no doubt that the military is the most integrated pan-Nigerian institution. And even today, the military is one of the institutions that represents the pride of our nation’s possibilities in unity.
“Compatriots from every corner of this country come together, work and live together, entrust their lives to each other and integrate their families. It is a military where many of my dearest friends, from all faiths and parts of the country, lost their lives defending the unity of our nation. That was the military I served in, and in that military it was impossible to be a bigot.”
He said in governance, competence should always come before religion and that was why as head of state, he appointed 11 Christians as governors out of the 19 states.
He said religion comes from personal conviction and should never be used to gain political advantage.
He noted that his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was not only a lawyer but a senior pastor.