Terrorism Tag: Presidency Defends Pantami, Threatens Arrest Of Those ‘Smearing’ Minister

The presidency has thrown its weight behind the embattled Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Patanmi, who has been heavily criticized recently over extremist remarks he made in the past.

The comments which portrayed him as sympathetic to ideologies promoted by fundamentalist groups as Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, were recently unearthed and published by an online news medium; with the comments attracting widespread criticisms leading to calls for his resignation or sack by President Muhammadu Buhari.

But the Presidency on Thursday April 22 in a statement appeared to exonerated Patanmi, linking the Minister’s ordeal to the works of   detractors, adding that “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.”

According to Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu,  “the Minister has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has revolutionized the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money; he has 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 also regretted what he described as “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.

This insidious phenomenon seeks to cancel the careers of others on the  basis of a thing they have said, regardless of when they said it.

“The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim 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.”

He disclosed that the government was aware of overtures made to the management of some media houses by ICT companies who stand to lose from reforms initiated by the Minister.

According to him, government ordered an investigation to ascertain the claims, adding that necessary police and judicial action would be taken.

Excusing the Minister’s alleged past, Shehu stated that Pantami has “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.”

This is as he disclosed that, “this manufactured dispute is nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words, but solely concern his actions in the present.”

While underscoring the federal government’s commitment to improving the lives of all Nigerians, Shehu said such commitment, “includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends.

“The Administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services,” said the Presidency.

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