No matter how sturdy the metaphorical fence built around the heart of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami may be; no matter how “Boko haramic” may he be in valour, the minister in his privacy or in the inner recess of his mind, cannot deny the fact that, this is not the best of time in his budding political career and must thus, be praying that the Almighty Allah let this agonising cup quickly pass over him. But the more I believe he yearns for this relief, the more the complaints against him have continued to mount and the call for his resignation or the deliberate termination of his appointment by the Federal government, has continued to gain in crescendo, a phenomenon The Nation columnist, Tatalo Alamu has described as “Pantami pandemic.”. Like all pandemics, it may of course fester for some time, before the matter is either rested in the credit or debit ledger of the present administration, depending on the will of the man in the eye of the storm to voluntarily and gloriously submit or the will of his present employer to logically and dispassionately deal with the situation. What is the sin of Pantami that his antagonists have found it difficult to tell him to go and sin no more having owned up? At the heart of this public disputation is the truth that, the Minister had in his youthful days been a prop in words and actions to religious terrorist groups which have not only been tormenting Nigerians, but have left the country prostrate politically, socially and economically. It is indeed in the context of these damaging and debilitating consequences of the groups to which the Minister had once threw his heart in flourishing and preserving up to date that, Nigerians have been interrogating the morality of his continued stay in office as Minister of a constitutionally secular Nigeria.
And in this interrogation, the government in which Pantami is serving ought to have exercised some restraint instead of coming into swift defence of the Minister. I hold this view because of this cogent reason. It will be recalled that, one of the campaign promises of the APC government in 2015 was to offer better security of lives and property in the face of the Boko Haram insurgency which seemed overwhelming for the Jonathan administration the APC wanted to unseat then for lacklustre performance. Upon assumption of office, the APC administration demonstrably tackled the insurgent group. After the initial success and obvious technical gains, the Boko Haram became intractable and insecurity generally escalated. In combating the pervasive insecurity and as civic responsibility, many Nigerians have lent this government their goodwill. And when there began to emerge the fact that some powerful Nigerians constitute the backbone of the merchants of death, many Nigerians went on their knees and prayed to God to expose such fifth columnists. And soon after, the creator of the universe began to expose such national betrayals. For instance, in August 2020, a former Central Bank Deputy Governor, Obadiah Mailifia, revealed that, former Boko Haram members had revealed to him that, a state Governor and some other state officials were the godfathers of the Boko Haram. But it was amazing to see the man being seemly treated as a villain rather than as a patriot whose useful information could have been of great help in total defeat of the group. Is that not a prayer answered? If Pantami’s preachment and radicalization of the insurgents have partly brought us to this precipice, is it not therefore, justifiable to give him the task of helping to deconstruct the group?As Yoruba would say,”omo ina laran si ina(it is the child of fire we send on erand to fire).But this may be dangerous for
him as the group will see him as a traitor and may treat him as such. So, “oka ti bi omo sile o bi oro (the viper has hatched a more vicious snakelet), Yoruba would say.”
Aside from this, even though Pantami had publicly said he had renounced his radical Islamic world view and hinged his perception then on youthful exuberance, the fact is that he can hardly totally purge himself of such radical tendency. It is because Pantami may not be able to play Paul following Paul’s transformatory experience on his way to Damascus that, some people are now calling for Pantami’s exit as a minister This is even being proved by his critics with the allegation that, he is still using his present office to promote ethno-religious agenda. Indeed, this allegation cannot be ignored, for it is difficult for a former prostitute in marriage to discount her sexual prowess. This is the more reason why government should sit back, see his case as a prayer answered and deal with Pantami more decisively rather than putting up a stout defence for him. This government had toed this line in the past on a number of occasions only to yield to public demands afterwards. To be sure, in the case of allegation of corruption against the former Secretary to the government, Babachir Lawal, government first defended him only to remove him and arraign him afterwards. The case of the service chiefs is another. And so also the inconclusive case of Ibrahim Magu. The truth of the matter is that, some powerful office holders are sabotaging the efforts of this government in enhancing the security of this country. If this is the case, is government oblivious of this? Many Nigerians doubt. A survivor of Boko Haram,Aisha Abdullahi had recently revealed to The Nation newspaper that: “we also have soldiers who join up with them. Some have hands in Boko Haram and conspire with them. Sometimes, they even give them their uniforms and guns in exchange for money. So sometimes, you can’t even differentiate between real soldiers and Boko Haram”. By the same token, let it be said that, some public officials have their hearts in Boko Haram and they deploy the technology the group so hates to promote its cause. As such, the Pantami’s case must be handled with caution and also in the national interest, for it seems also a prayer answered.
Dr.Adebisi writes from the Federal College of Agriculture, Akure, Ondo state.
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