Presidential comments on Pantami: Nigerians attack presidency

April 25, 2021

6.7 min readCategories: News

The Presidency drew more flak from the public on Saturday over its defence of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami.

There had been calls from the members of the public Pantami’s resignation over an old video in which he endorsed the activities of some terrorist organizations, including the Al-Qaeda movement, which was responsible for the infamous September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

Amid the growing calls for Pantami’s resignation, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, had said that there was no need for the minister to resign because his action was in the past and he had expressed remorse for it.

Shehu, who spoke as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today, had also argued that Pantami’s case was different from that of a former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who had to resign her appointment after she was accused of forging her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.

He said the Presidency would have acted differently if the communications minister had committed forgery.

But many Nigerians have taken to the social media to argue that if Adeosun was haunted by her past, there is no reason Pantami’s case should be different.

Among those who added their voices to the calls for Pantami’s resignation on Saturday was a former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also carpeted the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the House of Representatives for not speaking up on the matter.

Pantami should resign as Minister — Moghalu

In a series of tweets on Saturday, Moghalu said Pantami should “never have scaled the vetting process and approved for that office.”

Moghalu said the presidency exhibited double standards as Kemi Adeosun, former minister of finance, was made to resign for a wrongdoing in her past.

He said: “I have refrained so far from commenting on the #Pantami controversy. From information available, anyone can a mistake and has the right to recant from it.

“But when the evidence shows that a serving minister of Nigeria has expressed open support for global terrorist groups, he should never have scaled the vetting process and approved for that office.”

He added: “The implication of the timing of Pantami’s recanting of his views now is that he has been serving as a minister while presumably still harbouring those views.

“His disagreement with Boko Haram does not absolve him of, at the very least, moral culpability for supporting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

“For this reason, Pantami should not continue to serve as a minister. For him to remain in his position and for presidency to support this is to tell Nigerians that we have two sets of standards from the very same government, one for the likes of former Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun who had to resign for a wrongdoing in her past, and another for Pantami.

“This position of presidency undermines public accountability as well as Nigeria’s struggle against terrorism.”

Other Nigerians who took to the media to express their views accused the Presidency of indirectly supporting terrorism.

Adenekan Mayowa said: “According to Garba Shehu, it is about forgiving people’s past mistakes & crimes. Kidnapper Evans has been in the prison & has on national TV shown remorse for his past deeds. Please when is Buhari releasing him? “Just as Pantanmi, Evans has changed too.”

Tope Femi stated: “@GarShehu, so you could prefer terrorist comment to a forged certificate? Both are bad, both are supposed to face justice. With intelligent view, terrorism is evil and more dangerous than forgery. Both are unacceptable.”

Tifase Oladayo posited that “This government kept on setting new erroneous standard day in day out with no principle guiding decision making. One rule for the likes of Kemi Adeosun and another for the Pantamis. So erratic in words & action so much anything detrimental to national peace is possible with them.”

Sodiq Tade said: “Forgery is greater than terrorism. In order to justify Pantami’s past actions, the lousy Garba Shehu goofed. This is the new Nigeria where forgery poses more threat to national unity than terrorism.”

Vivian Umukoro argued: “How can forgery be greater than terrorism? Garba Shehu is the worst of them all. Thank goodness, nobody can bribe God.”

Femi Coker said: “Greater crime and smaller crime. This is coming from the spokesman of a president? Crime is crime.”

“Are we saying that if Kemi Adeosun is reinstated then this all goes away? We are talking about terrorism here. Bringing up Kemi Adeosun’s case is like watering down the issue.” Moses Mudiaga queried.

PDP slams APC, Reps leadership over Pantami

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday slammed the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over what the PDP described as its conspiracy of silence on the raging controversy over the fate Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

The PDP also knocked the APC leadership in the House of Representatives for frustrating moves by the PDP lawmakers to table the matter of the embattled minister for deliberation on the floor of the lower house last Thursday.

In a statement issued on Saturday by the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition party said the continued silence by the APC leadership was a direct confirmation of the party’s support and sympathy for acts of terrorism.

The PDP added that such acts of terrorism, typified by mass killings, banditry, maiming, kidnapping and marauding, have continued to plague the country unchecked.

The party said: “We find it unthinkable that the APC as a party, and some of its leaders, who are going about grandstanding on their aspiration to further lead our nation, can be silent in the face of a major threat to our national security as well as our foundation as a nation.

“Our party had always drawn the attention of Nigerians to the manifest relationship and camaraderie between terrorist elements and APC leaders, including those angling to be President.

“Nigerians could recall that our party had always urged the APC and its leaders to free our nation by returning the political mercenaries and thugs they imported to help them rig the 2019 elections.

“Instead, the APC has allowed their political mercenaries to continue to maraud our country, with Isa Pantami being accused of using his office to compromise the NIN (National Identification Number) registration exercise to register such aliens with a view to foisting them on our nation as citizens.”

The PDP challenged the APC and its leaders to speak out by calling on President Buhari to relieve Isa Pantami of his office without further delay, clean up whatever compromises he may have made in the system and take further steps to protect the nation from terrorist activities.

The party similarly berated the leadership of the House of Representatives for shutting down a motion moved by Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, demanding the resignation or sack of Pantami.

It stated that the motion by Elumelu was validly moved and that it reflected the position of the PDP and indeed that of majority of Nigerians across board.

The party condemned a statement by the APC leadership in the House, which it said attempted to create a parliamentary cover for the embattled minister.

The PDP further deplored what it described as personal attacks on the Minority Leader as well as the spokesman for the Minority Caucus, Mr Francis Agbo by the APC leaders in the lower house.

According to the party, the action of the APC leadership in the House of Representatives further exposed a huge conspiracy by certain individuals working in tandem with terrorism apologists to frustrate genuine efforts to curb acts of terrorism in the country.

“Our party alerts Nigerians to a scheme by the APC leadership in the House of Representatives to create unnecessary controversies, ostensibly with a view to diverting public attention from the pertinent issues at hand and by so doing, provide official cover for a confessed terrorism apologist in the Federal Executive Council,” the PDP said.

Credit: The Nation

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