A minister who harbours the kind of terrorist and religious fundamentalist views Pantami espouses, should not remain in government a day longer.
It is now very apparent that Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, 48-year-old Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, is a terrorism sympathiser and a young man who has harboured and espoused religious extremist and dangerous views for as long as he has lived.
“We are all happy whenever unbelievers are killed,” Pantami once said as an Islamic scholar and cleric, his disgust for “infidels” oozing through every pore of his tanned skin.
Pantami hailed Osama Bin Laden, who orchestrated the terrorist attacks on United States soil on September 11, 2001, saying Bin Laden “is a better Muslim than myself.”
Pantami once condemned Muslims who took up government positions, vowing that he would never join politics or take up a role in government.
But here we are.
A look at Pantami’s immediate past is to tread on a minefield littered with sinister religious rhetoric, fundamentalism and extremism.
Pantami renounced some of his extremist remarks last week in the face of sustained public umbrage.
“Some of the comments I made some years ago that are generating controversies now were based on my understanding of religious issues at the time, and I have changed several positions taken in the past based on new evidence and maturity,” he said, after initially saying he never rendered the remarks attributed to him and after stonewalling the press.
“I was young when I made some of the comments; I was in university, some of the comments were made when I was a teenager.
However, to paraphrase former U.S First Lady Michelle Obama, “being in government doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.”
It is an indictment on our intelligence agencies like the Department of State Security (DSS) and the vetting authorities like the legislature, that Pantami was cleared in spite of his extremist religious past, to head the public information technology department (NITDA) in 2016 and to lead the communications ministry since 2019.
We should have known that Pantami hasn’t changed a wee bit, and that he is still a living, breathing alleged terrorist, when he chased Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a fellow government appointee, from her office space in 2020 with gun totting security personnel in tow.
It says a lot about President Muhammadu Buhari that Pantami has remained in government circles since 2016.
It also says a lot that a self-professed religious fanatic cum fundamentalist like Pantami, has been handed a most sensitive responsibility like harvesting the nation’s enormous data through the National Identification Number (NIN).
As we battle terrorism in the northeast and across the federation like we have done since 2009, Pantami is clearly one ‘ally’ we can do without.
At the moment, his position in the highest level of government in our country has become untenable. He looks like the mole we clearly don’t need. He has become the clearest example of ‘conflict of interest’ yet.
A man who has dined with terrorists and who has applauded acts of terrorism that have shocked and agonised the rest of the world, shouldn’t remain a day longer in government.
Pantami should fall on his sword by tendering his resignation as minister of the federal republic.
Given that that would never happen, President Buhari should do the nation a belated favour by relieving Pantami of his exalted position.
It would be the right thing to do and a wise security decision for the uncertain times we now live in.
*Topnewstv Editor’s Opinion is the viewpoint of an Editor at Topnewstv. It does not represent the opinion of the Organisation Topnewstv.