The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, on Wednesday rejected calls for his resignation as Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council.
The governor was appointed into the role by the APC national leadership last week.
A coalition of Christian groups from the North-Central had on Tuesday slammed Lalong for accepting to serve as head of the ruling party’s presidential campaign council.
In a chat with State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, the governor said Pope Francis was not opposed to his appointment.
He added that the Pope had not told him that accepting to lead the Muslim-Muslim APC presidential ticket was against the tenets of Christianity.
The governor stressed that he would not reject the position just to satisfy the wishes of certain individuals or groups.
Lalong said: “The Pope is not angry with my decision to be the DG of the Muslim-Muslim presidential campaign.
“I came back home and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) welcomed me at the airport.
“The next day, I addressed stakeholders of Plateau and I told them why I’m accepting and then there was jubilation, all of them accepted.
“So, if you see people talking about me rejecting the position, I have accepted it already – is not an issue. Some of them have already keyed into it – I’m a Christian. If you watch my TVC interview I said, I was born a Catholic, baptized a catholic, confirmed a catholic.
“Today, I went through missionary schools. I was taught by missions, I respect my being a Christian.
“I have been given the highest award by the Pope, I still hold that award – the highest Papal Award, I want people to know, Knight of Saint Gregory the Great, I have it and one day if you want I will wear my uniform and come here. So those who are talking it I don’t even know where they are.
“I hold a Papal night and as a catholic everything we do, we do it and send the advice to the Pope.
“The Pope has not told me that what I’m doing (to accept Director General) is bad – As a Catholic, we take that direction.
“But, generally as a governor of a state, I’m not responsible only my faith. I’m responsible to other people who belong to other faiths, who are not even Muslims or Christians.”
He urged Nigerians to grow up from ethnic or religious sentiments.
Lalong said that he had already accepted the job and there was nothing anybody could do to dissuade him from performing his responsibilities.
The governor said he was in the State House to thank President Buhari for approving the University of Jos as a national cancer centre as well as granting presidential pardon to the former governor of the state, Joshua Dariye.
He said the people of Plateau would remain grateful to the president for delivering a lot of democratic dividends to the state.
He added: “My visit to the president is to come and show him appreciation because of what he has done for Plateau State in the last few months.
“Just a week or two ago, we just got approval to make the University of Jos a Cancer Centre.
“I saw over N3 billion approved for the institution as a special centre for cancer. So, it’s not a small achievement.
“Recently, the president approved the establishment of an orthopaedic hospital in Jos, Plateau; the only one in North-Central.”
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