The Kano State Governmen has denied claims by a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, that the Ganduje Foundation, a philanthropic organisation, is being used by the State governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to force some Christian faithful to join Islam.
DIPLOMATIC DIARY recalls that the Babachir, while warning the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its Presidential Candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu against its decision for a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the 2023 presidential election, had alleged that the Kano Governor Ganduje, runs a foundation, whose major objective is the conversion of Christians to Islam.
The former SGF, who warned of a possible Islamic agenda in the Muslim-Muslim ticket, had alleged: “…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. So if my very good friend Tinubu in a desperate bid to become President allows himself to be made into a religious bigot or even a mujahideen, he is welcome.”
But a statement issued on Wednesday by Kano State commissioner for information, Malam Muhammad Garba, described the allegation as unjustifiable, and totally false.
While the statement emphasized that there is no compulsion in religion, it said Islam gave individuals the freedom to choose their own religion, and also provided non-Muslims with considerable economic, cultural and administrative rights.
Garba said there was never a time any Christian or non-believer is forced to embrace Islam by the foundation, adding that the action negates the teachings of Islam.
Malam Garba said it was unfortunate that at a time when the country need 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 closed relationship with the party’s flagbearer, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The commissioner further clarified that the Ganduje Foundation is not faith-based but purely philanthropic , and which non-Muslims also stand to benefit from the services it renders.
He said the Foundation, set up about 40 years ago, engaged in philanthropic, humanitarian and charitable activities that included medical, support and assistance to the needy in 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.
Malam Garba added that since its establishment, the foundation has built many schools, and healthcare centres, distributed free school uniforms and instructional materials to new intake in primary schools, and construction of boreholes and mosques.
Others include distribution of food items to the orphanage and Muslim communities during Sallah and fasting period, Christian community during Christmas and Easter period, provision of medical assistance to the needy as well as other philanthropic activities.
The commissioner stated that available statistics indicate that no fewer than 380, 000 people have benefited from the foundation’s Eye Care Programme which included treatment for cataracts and glaucoma, as well as distribution of medical glasses.
He stated that 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.
Malam Garba further said that Governor Ganduje’s disposition on religious tolerance informed his administration’s stance on guaranteeing religious freedom and association for ethnic nationalities in the state, which earned him recognition and conferment of the traditional title of Agu Na Eche Mba of Igbo land by the Chairman, Abia state/South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Eberechi Dick and another chieftaincy title conferred on him and his wife as Aare Fiwajoye of Ibadan by Olubadan, Oba (Dr.) Senator Mohood Olalekan Ishola.
According to the statement, Governor Ganduje appealed to the former SGF, Christian party members and other Nigerians to be mindful of their utterances, especially on religious matters and support the APC for quality leadership that will deliver the country from its challenges.