Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje has cautioned Babchair Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, over his utterances on the controversial issue of the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The governor in a statement by his Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, accused Lawal of spreading falsehood and preaching intolerance, saying he should be mindful of his choice of words.
“Muslim Muslim ticket is not going to in any way resulted in the neglect of Christians in the country,” the statement read.
“The former SGF, Christian party members, and other Nigerians should be mindful of their utterances, especially on religious matters, and support the APC for quality leadership that will deliver the country from its challenges.”
The Kano State governor was responding to Lawal’s statement condemning the decision of the APC presidential candidate Bola Tinubu’s decision to pick Kashim Shetima, a fellow Muslim, as his running mate for the 2023 general election.
In the statement, Lawal described Tinubu’s choice as a “disastrous error”.
“I am afraid a Moslem-Moslem ticket will be “Dead on Arrival”. And the arrival date according to INEC’s election timetable is 25th February 2023. This ticket will drag down the whole APC members to the pit. We all should reject it,” he said.
Lawal in his statement also said there was evidence of an Islamic agenda and accused Governor Ganduje of being involved in the agenda.
He said, “Proof of a possible Islamic agenda was leaked when Governor Ganduje, the “Kadmul Islam”, gave advance notice that Tinubu had assured them he would be nominating a Moslem as his running mate.
“For those who might not know, Governor Ganduje has a foundation called “Ganduje Foundation” which purpose according to its website is to “provide selfless service to humanity and Islam” but whose primary purpose it appears is the conversion of Christians to Islam.”
But Ganduje rejected the allegation, saying, “the comment was totally false considering that, while there is no compulsion in religion, Islam gave individuals the freedom to choose their own religion, and also provided non-Muslims with considerable economic, cultural and administrative rights”.
He added, “There was never a time any Christian or non-believer is forced to embrace Islam by the foundation because it negates the teachings of Islam, but (they) are called to Islam at their wish just as the missionaries go to villages in Kano to invite non-believers to embrace Christianity.”
According to him, it is unfortunate that at a time when the country needs to be united for national development and religious tolerance, a man of Babachir’s calibre would spread falsehood without much consideration for his position in the APC and close relationship with the party’s flagbearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Further defending the foundation, the statement said it 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.
“Governor Ganduje always stands for religious harmony in Kano as exemplified by the 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 statement added.
Tinubu had sparked controversy On Sunday when he announced Shetima as his running mate after weeks of speculations about who he would pick.
The announcement which meant that the APC was opting for a Muslim-Muslim ticket drew condemnation and split opinion.
Tinubu, his allies and his party have all tried to allay fears and concerns about his choice. He has said he has deep respect and trust in Islam and Christianity.
He said Shettima was selected because the former Borno State governor is “competent, capable, reliable and able to be picked as a running mate”.
“Religion, ethnicity, and region cannot always and fully determine our path,” he was quoted as saying in a statement on Sunday by Bayo Onanuga, spokesman for his campaign organisation.
“To forge ahead as a nation towards development and prosperity, we must break free of old binds. We must recalibrate our political calculations to where competence and fairness matter, more than reducible demographics.”