• My foundation never forced Christians to accept Islam, Ganduje replies Babachir Lawal
• Akeredolu, APC stakeholders ask Nigerians to ignore religion, choose competence
• Insensitive politicians will be punished over Muslim-Muslim ticket, Olawepo-Hashim warns
• Blame Buhari, 1999 Constitution for criticisms against Muslim-Muslim ticket, says Ohanaeze ex-scribe
Amid passionate reactions since its announcement on Sunday, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Adamu, has described the party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket as the work and will of God, saying Christians in the country, who are agitated by the choice need not fear.
The APC Chairman stated this, yesterday when he led the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) on a courtesy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at his residence in Daura, Katsina State.
The former Nasarawa State governor said the visit was to brief President Buhari on what transpired in Osun State on Tuesday during the party’s governorship mega campaign.
According to Adamu, the party went through a rigorous practical assignment on the selection process before arriving at the Muslim-Muslim ticket. He described Senator Kashim Shettima as a Nigerian who doesn’t need to be either Muslim or Christian before being selected as running mate to a presidential candidate.
While appreciating Christians in the country for showing interest in the Muslim-Muslim ticket, Adamu asked citizens to face the realities of the country’s policies.
The APC Chairman said the party is working hard and praying to win the forthcoming 2023 general elections, adding that the ruling party will win Saturday’s Osun governorship election as a pointer to its victory in 2023.
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 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, yesterday, which the state Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, issued, Ganduje said the comment was totally false, while he urged the former SGF, Christian party members and other Nigerians to be mindful of their utterances, especially on religious matters.
He said: “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 APC and close relationship with the party’s flagbearer, 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, and healthcare centres, distributed free school uniforms and instructional materials to new intake in primary schools and constructed boreholes and mosques.
Others include the distribution of food items to the orphanage and Muslim communities during the Sallah and fasting period.
The governor, according to the statement, assured that the Muslim-Muslim ticket would not in any way result in the neglect of Christians.
AHEAD of the general elections, the Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has called on Nigerians to vote for competence, adding that the faith of the vice president doesn’t affect performance in any government. Akeredolu, who expressed confidence that Tinubu would rescue the nation, noted that the work stops on the president’s table.
“Muslim-Muslim ticket has nothing to do with performance. Let’s vote for someone that can do something. The work stops at the table of the president. It is the president that you are voting for. He decides what happens.
“Whether it’s a Muslim/Muslim or Christian/Christian, it should not matter to us in the South because we fought for this. I have no doubt that given the opportunity, from what he has done in Lagos, Tinubu will turn things around for the better,” he said.
He spoke at the swearing-in of two new commissioners, which took yesterday at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office, Alagbaka, Akure. The new commissioners are: Sowore Akinwumi Samson and Ologbese Adeboboye.
ALSO, APC national stakeholders, yesterday, called on Nigerians to assess Tinubu and his running mate, Shettima, on the basis of competence and not religion.
Led by Mr Aliyu Audu, the group, at a press conference in Abuja, maintained that the uproar over the decision by Tinubu to settle for Shettima was uncalled for as it was well thought out. The group expressed optimism that a Tinubu-led presidency would not administer the country on the basis of ethnic and religious biases.
“It is on this basis that we call on patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians to see this as a confirmation that our next president will not shy away from making tough decisions when the needs arise and that such decisions would be made in the best interest of our collective success while also taking every sentiment into consideration.”
HOWEVER, in reaction to the controversies surrounding the choice of Shettima as running mate by Tinubu, a former presidential aspirant and a chieftain of the party, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, on Wednesday, warned that Nigerians, including opinion moulders, should not allow religion to further divide the country.
Olawepo-Hashim, a presidential candidate of the Trust Party in the 2019 elections, issued the warning in a statement titled: ‘2023: No need to divide the country over religion, insensitive politicians would be punished.’
According to him, the political aspiration of anybody does not worth the disruption of the unity and peace of Nigeria.
He said: “While we all have the right to express ourselves, we should avoid incendiary comments that can further pose a huge challenge to our national integration objectives. Let us quietly make our decisions and express such decisions with our votes.”
Olawepo-Hashim added that political parties who were “insensitive to the national concerns and take some segments of the population for granted must be ready to be punished by the electorate at the polls. That is a democracy, there is no need for quarrel.”
He maintained that every party must work hard towards the general election to ensure that they were in good reckoning with the electorate, adding that “those who have bought delegates must know they will have an uphill task buying an estimated 40 million potential voters who may turn out at the next election.”
Olawepo-Hashim cited statistics from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which stipulated that as of 2019, there were 84 million registered voters, while as at June 27, 2022, the ongoing registration figures were as follows: Fresh registrants: 10,487,972; completed registration: 8,631,696; male: 4,292,690; female: 4,339,006; People With Disabilities: 67,171 and youths: 6,081,456.
He said: “Anyone, who loves his or her party and loves Nigeria must ensure that their parties do the right things. Buying up delegates at the party conventions is the cheapest thing to do, the general election is a different ball game. National security is at stake, not just anything will pass.”
A former Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nduka Eya, said that the 1999 Constitution and the method of administration of President Buhari should be blamed for the opposition against the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the APC.
He stated that the lopsided Constitution, which favours a section of the country and President Buhari’s style of governance have resurrected religion and ethnicity in politics, thereby creating deep divisions that were not the case in 1983 when the late MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe ran a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket and were voted overwhelmingly by Nigerians.
Speaking to newsmen in Enugu State, yesterday, he stated that the last seven years have deepened suspicion among Nigerians following the abandonment of federal character principles in the appointment and delivery of the programmes of the present administration.
“I can tell you that Nigeria has become a failed state in his hands. This is the first time a president has decided to jettison the federal character, which is a constitutional matter, to administer the country and things can no longer move. In his security architecture, he has ensured that some sections of the country are not considered in appointments even when the country was built on a tripod. Things have moved from bad to worse. To get into certain offices, you are considered based on where you come from and your religion,” he said.
Eya, a former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, however, advised Nigerians to play down the issue of the same religion ticket and concentrate on asking the different political parties, especially the APC and PDP their scorecards in the past 20 years.
A socio-political activist and critic, Chief Adesunbo Onitiri, has described the Muslim/Muslim ticket as an unacceptable move that is capable of creating unprecedented chaos in the country. He made this known in a statement, yesterday, in Lagos, adding that the move is an affront to the sensibility of Nigerians.
He cautioned that apart from being uncivilised in the country’s political space, “Nigeria though a secular state, religion has come to play a central stage in our political structure.”
Onitiri emphasised that APC shouldn’t plunge the country into religious turmoil. “Never again will Nigerians tolerate afflictions we are currently going through, resulting in daily killings, maiming and kidnapping all over the country.
“We are already witnessing a failed state where ISWAP, Boko Haram, herdsmen and terrorists massacre innocent and defenceless Christians and other innocent citizens for free. None of them was arrested or prosecuted while our military turn the other face when these atrocities are being committed,” he alleged.
He called on the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and all Christians to rise and vote massively against the Muslim/Muslim ticket.