Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has dismissed the claim of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, that the Ganduje Foundation is being used to forcefully convert Christians to Islam.
While rejecting the choice of Senator Kashim Shettima as running mate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Presidential Candidate of the APC, Lawal had accused Ganduje of attempting to Islamise Nigeria.
The former SGF had claimed that the foundation was created with the sole aim of forcing some Christian faithful to join Islam.
However, in a statement which the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, issued on his behalf, Ganduje said the comment was totally false.
He said while there is no compulsion in religion, Islam gives individuals the freedom to choose their own religion, and also provides non-Muslims with considerable economic, cultural and administrative rights.
He said there was never a time any Christian or non-believer was forced to embrace Islam by the foundation because it negates the teachings of Islam.
“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 caliber, 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,” the statement said.
The statement added that since its establishment, the foundation has built many schools, healthcare centres, distributed free school uniforms and instructional materials to new intake in primary schools, construction of boreholes and mosques.
Others include distribution of food items to the orphanage and Muslim communities during Sallah and fasting period.
It stated that available statistics indicates 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 statement added that Ganduje always stand for religious harmony in Kano as exemplified by 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, according to the statement, assured that the Muslim-Muslim ticket would not in anyway result in the neglect of Christians.
The former SGF, Christian party members and other Nigerians were advised to be mindful of their utterances, especially on religious matters.