Re: Pantami is my friend but can’t be defended

By Etim Etim


I’m not a big fan of Farooq Kperogi, the Nigerian born university professor in Atlanta, United States, who writes a weekly column in the Nigerian Tribune. Although he has a good grasp of language. I have resisted the urge to rejoin some of his previous articles until the one titled ‘’Pantami is my friend, but he can’t be defended’’ published in the Saturday Tribune of April 17, 2021.

In it Kperogi attacked Isa Ali Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, for the incendiary utterances and inciting religious preachments he made before he became minister. Kperogi argued that he could not in good conscience defend the minister whom he described as a friend because of the minister’s past entanglements with terrorist groups and religious bigots. The piece would have been a perfect harangue for a cabinet member who had brought so much odium to the government in which he serves. But midway into the piece, the writer curiously brought in the Vice President and alleged that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is equally guilty of religious and ethnic bias. He said the VP’s staffers are mostly Yoruba and Christians, and most are members of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). I will not dignify the drivel by reproducing the full paragraph here, but suffice it to say that Kperogi’s assessment of the VP is faulty, wrong facetious.

Many others, including some Presidency officials, have since risen in stout defence of the VP. Dr. Balkisu Saidu, Special Assistant to the President on Legal, Research & Compliance Matters, Office of the Vice President, has gone further to publish names and positions of key staff in the VP’s Office to prove their religious and ethnic mixture. Although an ordained pastor in RCCG long before he became Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has never held extremist views or displayed an act of ethnic bias. Right from his days as a practicing lawyer, Osinbajo has kept a wide circle of friends across the country and built a network of personal associates in every corner of Nigeria. As Vice President in the last six years, his staff and the few political appointments he’s made reflect the diversity of our nation. His speeches, comments and public statements are in moderation. It is on record that the VP has never been provoked by the religiously inflamed mood of the times to express extreme statement. If anything, Prof Osinbajo has over time emerged, through actions and words, as the humane and compassionate face of the Buhari administration. He’s the one who goes around the country to comfort, condole and offer succor to the afflicted members of our besieged communities.

My guess is that the writer only wanted to create a storm by adding the VP to the piece. Kperogi believes that a good article should be controversial, even if an innocent person is maligned.  Farooq Kperogi should leave the Vice President out of the Pantami controversy. The VP is a decent, loyal public official who has carried himself so admirably well in the last six years. Rather, Kperogi should focus his attention on how many other ‘Pantamis’ are in the government and how the DSS, our ever vigilant and eagle-eyed secret police, could have missed spotting them out during their background checks.


*Etim sent this piece from Abuja.


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