Alleged terrorism speech: Presidency backs Pantami amidst calls for his removal - NIGERIAN NEWSORBIT


Friday, April 23, 2021

Alleged terrorism speech: Presidency backs Pantami amidst calls for his removal

...lists the Minister's achievements
…CAN warns against linking Yakowa’s death to Minister

Reprieve may have come for the embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali  Pantami as the Presidency has rejected calls for his removal and declared that it would rather support the Minister in his stride of making life better for Nigerians than dwell on a statement he (Patanmi made over twenty years ago as a young man.

The Presidency, who  spoke through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that makes leaders in politics, religion, and civil society liable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago, and even after they have later rejected them.

The statement states,  “Pantami is, currently, subject to a ‘cancel campaign’ instigated by those who seek his removal. They do not really care what he may or may not have said some 20 years ago: that is merely the instrument they are using to attempt to ‘cancel’ him. But they will profit should he be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.”

The Presidency noted that the Minister has, rightly, apologized for what he said in the early 2000s. “The views were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be equally unacceptable today, were he to repeat them. But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong.”

“In the 2000s, the Minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50. Time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change. But all discerning Nigerians know this manufactured dispute is nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words, but solely concern his actions in the present.”
On the achievements of the Minister, the Presidency noted that Pantami  has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has revolutionized the government’s virtual public engagement of  response to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money.

Pantami was said to have established ICT start-up centres to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs; he has changed policy to ensure locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, starting with his own; and he has deregistered some 9.2 million SIMs – ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to flagrantly use mobile networks undetected. In two short years, Minister Pantami has driven the contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP to more than 18 percent, making it one of the top two playing a critical role in the emergence of the economy from the COVID 19-induced recession.

Shehu added, “In putting people first, the Minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means. And there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of which do indeed stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections. The government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected.”

In a related development, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State chapter, has warned against linking the death of  former Kaduna State governor Patrick Yakowa to Pantami.
The state Chairman, Rev. John Hayab, gave the warning in a statement issued on Thursday in Kaduna.

It would be recalled that Hayab was a former special adviser on Religious Affairs to late Yakowa.
“I have followed the unfolding saga and some allegations against the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami.

“As someone very close to the late Yakowa, I call on all Nigerians to ignore the insinuations linking Pantami with Sir Yakowa’s death, endangering national peace.
“I call on security agencies to step in and tame the circulation of such dangerous documents.
“We cannot afford to stock fire when we should be pouring more water,” Hayab said.

“However, I am alarmed by the dangerous turns of events, especially the issue linked with the release of some documents with doubtful authenticity linking the minister (Pantami) and the Muslim community with the death of Yakowa.
“The church and Yakowa’s family consider the allegation very serious with a possible adverse impact on peace and national security,” he cautioned.

Hayab expressed strong reservations and concerns about statements like the ones associated in the past by Pantami as circulated in audios and videos released on social media.
“Society’s discomforts and disagreements should, however, not be enough reasons for us to approve the circulation of phony and injurious statements against any perceived foe.

“However, we consider that the communique could be doctored.
“We are aware that in this age of technological advancements,  we have to take any allegations with a pinch of salt until we are confident of the authenticity of the source.”
He said sensitive documents like the ones purported to be from the JNI meeting in Bauchi should be subjected to thorough security investigation and trials, not tools for social media warfare.

“The danger of making this a media issue, instead of a legal and security issue that it ought to be, is that we stand to lose the most important point, that of bringing to justice persons accused to have wronged the law.

“Accordingly, there is a need for circumspection and care so that we do not throw our communities into further chaos in the rush to hang one man.

“At a time of strained relationships between neighbours, what we need are mediatory interventions and peace building, rather than adding fuel to the raging fire.
“To be sure, when Sir Yakowa died in an air crash there was no inquiry to determine the cause of his death, aside from the immediate and likely technical fault leading to the helicopter crash.
“We, the Christian community and indeed his immediate family acknowledged the tragedy, submitting to the will of God Almighty.

“For that purpose, there is no point, now or later, to open up what will not bring back our leader and father but rather open up old wounds in a very controversial manner,” he said.
He therefore advised those with an axe to grind with Pantami to do so within their limits.

He said, “As a Church leader, I chose to speak because of my deep belief that justice is natural and we shall live to account before our Lord.
“Besides, if we support unverified allegations against someone today because we loathe the person, the monster could be deployed against us or someone we cherish tomorrow.”
Hayab further advised those who feel they have information to help the security agencies investigate whatever crimes against groups or individuals should do so within the provided window, without exacerbating the tension of formulating tales in the public space

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