The Presidency on Thursday conceded that the views expressed by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, endorsing some terror groups in the past are unacceptable, but says it stands resolutely by him because of his work for Nigerians.
The Presidency’s position was contained in a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) where it blamed the minister’s travails on the opposition and some unnamed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies.
It pointed out that the minister had righty apologised for the statements he made years ago, which he cannot now repeat.
“The administration stands by Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services,” the statement said.
The Presidency noted what it said was 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 added: “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.
“The Minister has, rightly, apologised 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.”
The Presidency alleged that Pantami made enemies because he tried to put Nigeria first.
The statement added: “This administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends.”