Standing with Pantami, a dress rehearsal? (Opinion)

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Eniola Ajayi

 

President Muhammadu Buhari
Dr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy

When the Presidency expressed solidarity with the embattled Minister of Communication and Digital economy, Dr Isa Pantami over calls for his sack due to alleged links to terrorist groups, many were taken aback to see a government claiming to be fighting terrorism taking such a disgraceful position.

President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity- Mallam Garba Shehu insists that Pantami’s past notwithstanding, the Gombe state-born Sheikh is now “born again,” hence, the decision to “stand resolutely with him because of his work for Nigerians.”

In its usual fashion of always shifting responsibilities and blaming others for its woes, Buhari blamed ICT companies in the country for being behind a cancel campaign against the Minister.

Despite having unfettered access to state’s investigative and intelligence apparatus, the Presidency couldn’t name any particular firm, neither did it present any evidence to buttress such allegation, but chose to discountenance verifiable facts and evidences of the Minister’s radicalized past as insufficient to warrant his exit from the corridors of power.

Telling Nigerians that statements made by a full grown adult a few years back meant nothing today and trying to justify those radical ideological views could dissipate in a jiffy is to live in a fool’s paradise; radical ideologies and religious extremism hardly change once ingrained and this is the case with Sheikh Pantami.

Going down memory lane, General Buhari himself was sold to Nigerians as a “born again democrat” in the build up to 2015 elections, those who bought the tale back then can say for themselves today whether he is indeed a democrat.

Standing with Pantami however will not come as a shock to those who know and understand the nucleus of the government of the day. General Buhari himself had expressed sympathy for Boko Haram in the past as reported in the Nation newspapers’ publication of June 2 2013; with the caption: Buhari faults clampdown on Boko Haram members (https://thenationonlineng.net/buhari-faults-clampdown-on-boko-haram-members/).

In addition, it is on record that a former member of the APC, Alhaji Kawu Baraje recently revealed that while he (Baraje) was in the APC, the party imported fulani bandits from Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone for the purpose of 2015 elections.

According to Baraje, the bandits refused to go back after the elections; this is a grave allegation still begging for answers from the government.

Today, hundreds of former Boko Haram members and active Boko haram terrorists as well as bandits are smiling to the banks either in form of salary payments from the Nigerian government in the name of rehabilitation or through ransom payments to free kidnapped citizens.

As the nation’s resources are fleeced to placate these radical groups, the victims of their actions are still in IDP camps.

Not only are thousands of citizens living in parlous conditions IDP camps in Nigeria, many are in refugee camps in Niger Republic while many others are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries such as Chad, Cameroon and Benin Republic, all due to insecurity.

Perhaps the question that needs to be asked is this: who is the biggest beneficiary of the ongoing insurgency or terrorism? Results from last elections have shown and this should be a major concern whether the government of the day is indeed serious or is just playing lip service.

As long as these crises amount to political gains, hope is not anywhere near the horizon as far Nigeria’s insecurity situation is concerned. In fact, Nigerians should start asking whether terrorism has been adopted as an instrument of state capture.

Also, the citizens and all stakeholders in the Nigerian project will want to know how many more Pantamis are yet to be unveiled even as the Buhari administration is hellbent on protecting one of its kind.

This may just be a child’s play ahead of more damning revelations.

 

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