By Levinus Nwabughiogu, Abuja
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Navy, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi has declared that the utterances attributed to the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has great security consequences to Nigeria
Featuring on a special programme of the House of Representatives Press Corps called “Hot Seat”, Gagdi who fielded questions from Journalists said that Pantami’s sympathy to Boko Haram in the past would seriously undermine the present security commitment of the country.
The lawmaker who was also the immediate Deputy Speaker of Plateau State House of Assembly exonerated the National Assembly particularly the Senate and the Department of State Service, DSS from the blames, saying their successful screening of the minister for his present office was based on the level of information before them.
He said it was not possible to have all the information on an individual, noting that Nigerians would have also raised an alarm on the person of Pantami before his screening by the Senate.
Gagdi however said it was the prerogative of President Muhammadu Buhari to either sack or keep the minister.
Pantami’s sympathy to Boko Haram has great security consequences
He said: “I would not say that DSS and the National Assembly acted in error. The NASS and DSS are not God. You will never get every information about every individual during confirmation. Because the NSS is not God. You don’t have the capacity to know everything about me.
“So, it is when the DSS knows that they recommended. And it is equally what the NASS saw that they recommended. And if you want to hold DSS and NASS responsible, what of you as an individual? Over 180 Nigerians, you were unable to.
“The announcement was made, the man was presented to the floor of the senate. He was screened and no individual out of over 180 Nigerians was able to remember that comment made to write a petition to the NASS for them to act or not to act.
“So, if NASS should be held responsible, or the DSS, the people of this country should equally be held responsible, because they were unable to do their job by bringing the information to the NASS.
“Until and unless you bring the petition that this man has done and that in the past because of the incapacity of both DSS and NASS to know everything about everybody. If there was an issue prior to the screening and the NASS did not act on that information, then you will hold them responsible. But because there was nothing, you assume the man is innocent. Now the issue has come to public glare. Is it the responsibility of the NASS to act based on the information that is given about the Minister? It is not the responsibility of the parliament to say remove the Minister or not to remove the Minister.
“The prerogative of appointment and removal is vested solely on Mr President. So, it is left for the executive arm of government. The information has come. I learnt also that the man has apologized. If it is true that the information is there and the man apologized, it is not within my own power as a parliament to say go or not go. The president has the red biro or green biro to tell him to stop, stay there, this is the last of your time as far as my cabinet is concerned. He equally has the prerogative of mercy to say since you have shown remorse, everybody could make mistake in the past, continue but make sure you do that again. I think these are the things I can say about the issue of the Minister.
“What is more important is what value is he adding to the Nigerian economy. What value is Pantami adding to curtailing the issue of insecurity in Nigeria? Every politician has his own enemy and every politician has his own past.
“I could remember when Isa Pantami made comments about Boko Haram. The people sent in videos insulting him and trying to declare him wanted. How can you place that? Juxtapose that with his present position. The man that made a statement in past against or supporting some certain security situation which is…if that statement is true then he did not do well at all. Then after his appointment as a minister, he has confronted Boko Haram about SIM card registration in such a way that the man was declared one of their major targets. I think his life has put him in a very critical position that he is neither here nor there because if they see him, they will not leave him.
“So, it has great consequences, to be fair, in terms of the security of this country for a Minister of Digital Economy to have made a statement in the past that seems to undermine the present security commitment. It has great security consequences on the security perception of this country. That I can tell you without mincing words. But again juxtapose that equally with his commitment as a Minister. What are his efforts? Has he made any compromising commitment towards those people or he has made a commitment that those people equally see him as an enemy? That would help you to equally strike a balance in the course of that. But I have to tell you, it has consequences. His statement has great implication for the security situation of this country.”
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