SINCE the scandal over the past open support of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, for some global terrorist groups broke out about a fortnight ago, the Federal Government initially remained aloof to it.
On Thursday, April 22, 2021 the Presidency, which had also decidedly kept mum over the display of public nuisance and physical assault of a parking lot attendant by the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, Danladi Umar, finally opened up in Pantami’s support.
In a statement signed by the President’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari’s government chose to describe the calls for Pantami’s resignation or sack as a “manufactured dispute”, saying it had “nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words, but solely concern his actions in the present”. In other words, some unnamed interests in the communications industry were behind the push to “cancel” Pantami for implementing Buhari’s vital policies.
The statement dwelt much on what the Presidency saw as Pantami’s “achievements”, firmly ignoring the real point at issue, which is that he is being seen as a global terrorism sympathiser in the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari.
Indeed, Nigerians had questioned the rationale behind Pantami’s inhuman implementation of the National Identification Number, NIN, forcing hapless Nigerians to troop out at the height of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Presidency needs to know that Nigerians actually want Pantami sacked because he, on several occasions as a full-blown adult Islamic preacher, had demonstrated his open love and admiration for global terrorist networks. These include Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Of special interest is his emotion-laden condolence message when the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi died in Iraq.
Zarqawi, a former Al Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan, murdered thousands of people in Iraq, Syria and his native Jordan. When he was killed, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, his disciple, later formed the Islamic State which, after their defeat in the Levant, has become the major driver of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Nigerian North East.
These linkages are worrisome for a Minister in charge of our country’s data and ICT. Nigerians are not sure what Pantami and his cohorts might be doing with this vital national asset. His profession of “repentance” does not hold water because, as Shakespeare says in Macbeth: “There is no art to find the mind’s construction on the face”.
Pantami, as a preacher, had declared “fatwa” on people. As Minister, he deployed security operatives to chase Abike Dabiri’s staff from a Federal Government facility in Abuja. He is unfit to be our minister.
The Presidency’s defence of Pantami is unacceptable. He must go.