…as ex-SGF, Babachir Lawal, Ganduje trade words
. My Foundation never forced Islam on Christians, Kano gov replies Lawal
. Warns APC Christian members, other Nigerians to mind their utterances
The multi-dimensional controversy trailing last Sunday’s announcement by the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, of a former Borno State governor, Senator Kashim Shettima, has continued to tear the ruling party further apart.
Party chieftains have continued to tackle one another over the development, resulting in some of them resigning their membership.
Lately, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje have since Tuesday been at daggers drawn over the matter.
Lawal had fired the first salvo when in his reaction to Shettima’s nomination by Tinubu with whom he had earlier worked closely, rejected the Muslim-Muslim ticket and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene by reversing the decision, also accused Ganduje of attempting to Islamise Nigeria.
The former SGF further accused the Kano governor of using his Foundation to forcibly convert Christians to Islam, saying the Non-Governmental Organisation was solely created by Ganduje for that particular purpose.
But in his reply on Wednesday, Governor Ganduje dismissed Lawal’s claim that the Ganduje Foundation is being used to forcefully convert Christians to Islam.
Ganduje, in a statement issued on his behalf on Wednesday by the Kano State Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, said the claim by the former SGF was totally false.
He warned the former SGF, Christian members of the ruling APC and other Nigerians to be mindful of their utterances, especially on religious matters.
The Kano governor explained that while there’s no compulsion in religion, Islam guarantees individuals the freedom to choose their own religion, and also gives non-Muslims considerable economic, cultural and administrative rights.
Ganduje argued that the Foundation had never at any time forced any Christian or non-believer to embrace Islam because doing so negates the teachings of Islam.
According to the statement, “It was unfortunate that at a time when the country needs to be united for national development and religious tolerance, a man of Babachir’s calibre, who is highly respected, would spread falsehood without much consideration to his position in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and close relationship with the party’s flagbearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“Going by its activities, the Foundation is not faith-based but purely philanthropic in which case, non-Muslims also stand to benefit from the services it renders.
“Ganduje Foundation was set up about 40 years ago and is engaged in philanthropic, humanitarian and charitable activities that included medical, support and assistance to the needy in the society, particularly the orphans and the physically challenged, medical outreach to attend to those with diabetes, hypertension, malaria, dental as well as ante-natal and maternal care.”
Ganduje’s statement added that since the establishment of the Foundation, it has built many schools, healthcare centres, distributed free school uniforms and instructional materials to new intake in primary schools and constructed boreholes and mosques.
Other activities of the Foundation, the statement added, include distribution of food items to the orphanage and Muslim communities during Sallah and fasting period.
It further stated that available statistics indicate that no fewer than 380,000 people have benefited from the foundation’s Eye Care Programme that included treatment for cataract and glaucoma, as well as distribution of medical glasses.
The governor’s statement added that Ganduje always stands for religious harmony in Kano as exemplified by his administration’s creation of the Ministry for Religious Affairs, where the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is a partner and enjoys a good working relationship with the governor as well as the introduction of an Inter-Faith Dialogue that promotes religious harmony between Muslims and Christians in the state.
The governor, the statement added, assured that the Muslim-Muslim ticket would not in anyway result in the neglect of Christians.