Pantami, Buhari and the dormant terrorist

Our primary school days were the best. Those who designed those formative educational structures of those days were simply superb! From primary one to primary three or four, we had female teachers, we called “Eskis ma “handling us. Mostly married women and mothers, those Eskis mas came down to our levels. Teaching us the Yoruba alphabets, we were made to understand that there are capital alphabets and small alphabets. We chorused the alphabets thus: “A nla, a kekere. B nla, b kekere…” and so on. What we were reciting then is simple: “Capital ‘A’ and small ‘a’. Capital ‘B’ and small ‘b.’

The lesson there is that every event comes in pairs. The world is created in different sizes. If you are still in doubt of this, you need to ask Garba Shehu. You should know him without any introduction. He is the Senior Special Assistant to General Buhari on Media and Publicity. He was in the news on Thursday and Friday, for very bad reasons, as usual. On Thursday, he told us why our “wailings” on the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, will amount to nothing.

Twenty-four hours later, Shehu granted an interview, which reminded me of the big and small alphabets of my yore primary school years. He said, Kemi Adeosun, erstwhile Minister of Finance’s crime of certificate forgery is not the same as the Pantami’s proclivity to terrorism. By Shehu’s estimation, Adeosun is our ‘A’ nla. It is a crime against the Holy Spirit to forge a NYSC certificate. Very unpardonable one for that matter. Contrastively, asking members of a particular religion to take up arms and kill the ‘infidels’ from other religions, as Pantami did in his “formative” years of his “20s”, is ‘a’ kekere. Killing a few “unbelievers” and encouraging terrorism, to Shehu and Buhari’s presidency, is a minor infraction- no, mere verbal slips, that should be forgiven and forgotten.

Once the compulsive murderer repents, without necessarily confessing his sins, he needs no further penitence. In the torpid thinking of the Buhari administration, such a once dangerous element should be the gatekeeper of our collective profile. Little wonder that Pantami is saddled with the responsibility of keeping our national data and profiles. The day he relapses into his formative terrorist stage, the data will be handy. This is the jungle that Nigeria has become under the watch of an absentee-president. The abdication of the responsibility of the office of the president by General Buhari, to me, is very deliberate, calculating and playing to the premeditated game.

Does the Daura-born General know that there is such a thing as Nigeria? I put my shirt on it: no president, dead or alive, has been as brazenly clannish as General Buhari. At the risk of sounding clairvoyant, I am tempted to say that Nigeria may never have such a divisive president like the teeth-picking General, ever again! Two things define the General Buhari’s presidency. One, the man is embarrassingly predictable. He does not have the capacity to spring a surprise on anybody. Once any national issue props up, you can easily tell what step(s) the Daura General will take.

And good enough, he has never disappointed in that regard. The second one is equally embarrassing and sad. Buhari and his presidency (that is if there is any difference between the two entities) are arrogantly contemptuous of the Southern Nigerian people. His disciples down South may not like this, but that is the truth. Does the man remember when he comes out of his torpid state, that outside his Fulani enclave any other race exists?

But that is not surprising; and equally not disappointing. No man gives what he does not have. Whatever the retired General possesses in height and gait, he lacks in nationalism. From his days in the military and all through his struggles to become the president, he exhibited the peculiarity. The only time he played the dumb was when he needed the South, especially the South-West desperately to actualise his ambition. Like a Smart Alec, Buhari knew that you would first need to collect the cutlass from the madman before tying his hands.

The Lagos end of the gang which unleashed the terror we are experiencing now on us are also feeling the heat. The South-South and the South-East regions are the only ones that can confidently beat their chests and say, we were not part of this current pestilence. The rest of us are guilty and Buhari and his cabal will eternally rub that on us. Our father (political merchants) have eaten the forbidden fruit and the teeth of the children (incipient followers) are set on edge. The arrogance of Garba Shehu in the statement he issued in defence of Pantami is a shared one with his principal, and or, the Aso Rock cabal.

I don’t know how good Shehu is in the sciences. But if he has an elementary knowledge of science, as I do, he will know that the proposition “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” is incurably fallacious. Oscillating on the same track of fallacy is the idea that “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.” For Shehu’s education, this is what scientists call “dormant cells.”

When something is dormant in science, it means it is: “lying asleep or as if asleep; inactive, as in sleep; torpid: in a state of rest or inactivity; inoperative; in abeyance”. The definition of the adjective, ‘dormant’, I love most is: “Present, but not active or manifest though capable of becoming so”. That is exactly the stage Pantami is now. The things he did and said in his “twenties” are too dangerous to go out of his system, when there is even no evidence to show that he was properly formatted; except in the words of Shehu. Buhari’s spokesman’s comment in his interview with the Channels Television, wherein he stated “In the second case which is that of Pantami, you are probing the thoughts, what is called ‘McCarthyism’; you search the inner recesses of the minds of individuals, bring out things they have said, or they are about to say, or you think they would say, and use that against them”, is a clear pointer to the fact that Shehu  is completely ignorant of the workings of a latent terrorist like Pantami, who is either merely in a state of dormancy or is a closet terrorist.

Like in other cases before it, the Buhari presidency bungled the opportunity it had once again to get it right with the people on the Pantami matter. This failure of his’ is premised on his disdain for the class of people- the Southern Nigerians, who are asking Pantami to do the honourable thing by quitting the government. That Buhari has the penchant to make a cock-up of every opportunity he has to shed the toga of a clannish leader and a parochial Fulani hegemon is not a shock either. When a leader is surrounded mainly by those who care less about what posterity says about them, statements as authored and uttered by Garba Shehu become commonplace. That Buhari presides over a fowl-up presidency, peopled by equally inept personnel, is an unfortunate reality we may all live with till he runs out his term.

And as long as Pantami warehouses our most sensitive data as Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Nigerians should as well prepare for the night of the long knives in the hands of terrorists who enjoy the confidence of the power-that-be. That said, all men and women of good conscience in the country should also pay attention to the threat contained in Shehu’s statement that “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”.  Very soon, we may begin to witness another round of midnight raids on the homes of Nigerians, and I bet, mainly Southerners, whom Shehu tagged as some members of the ICT companies “who approached newspaper editors to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister.”

All you need to do to hang a dog is to give it a bad name. When you juxtapose the Pantami case against  those of former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Walter Onoghen, Mr. Obono Obla, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and Mr. Babatunde Fowler and other former functionaries of this government who were thrown under the truck after playing  unwilling hosts to visiting security men of this administration for one crime or the other (most of which were of course, unsubstantiated), you will realise that the George Orwell  truism that “all animals are equal but some are certainly more equal than others”, is as valid as the day that literary saying was couched. Some animals are more equal in Nigeria than others especially if they happen to share the same ethnic and religious creed with the top dogs who are the lords of this shaky manor.



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